Posted October 17, 2011

A Week in the Life of a VP of Design

Kimpton Buzz

A post from Ave Bradley, Kimpton’s Vice President of Design

People sometimes ask what my typical day is like. My answer might not come as a surprise: There is no typical day! I’m always in a different city, doing all kinds of things to dream up stylish, fun and comfy spaces for Kimpton. This summer was a real whirlwind. Here’s a glimpse into one frenzied but fun-filled week.

I took a redeye flight to Miami.

I spent the morning in a model room at Surfcomber Hotel. This was precious time, because model rooms are a way for us to put all of the ideas and concepts into place before we invest in re-designing the remaining 180-plus rooms. I made plans to fully dress the space, right down to the carpet, bathroom fixtures, paint, furniture, lamps, art and window treatments. These are important choices because before going full steam ahead, we have to make sure all pieces work together, the scale fits the room size, and all is operationally sound and executable.

After going over the construction details, I took a long walk on the beach to get a feeling for what other area hotels were doing with regard to beach set-up and services. I made time to do yoga on the beach with a group that offers donation yoga for a cause. The day ended as I grabbed a burrito from a local joint set in a charming cabana.

With the help of a team, I installed the model room and scheduled the review with the owner for Wednesday morning. Everything was great, but it turned out that our case goods from China (wood pieces like dressers, armoires, night stands, end tables) had been in customs for nine days and were being held by the USDA for inspection. I put a truck on standby with check in hand to get our product as soon as customs releases it. At 4:45 p.m., we get the good news that customs had released our goods, but it’s too late in the day to let our driver in the yard.

That morning, our driver gets to customs bright and early at 7 a.m., but we’re told that we were first in so going to be last out! At 2 p.m., I freak out and decide that we need to buy a desk, headboard and dresser from local retail stores, and scramble my team to see what they can find. This model room suddenly has disaster written all over it. But alas, at 4 p.m. we hear that our driver has left the port and is en route … huge cheers throughout the property!

Of course it was Miami and 95 degrees and 100 percent humidity, and of course our vendor decided to ship the entire bed fully assembled, which will never fit through the doors of this 1940s building. So in the porte cochere we disassemble everything to take it upstairs. As we were disassembling the last piece of furniture a cab pulled into the porte cochere and drove right over our bed platform.

Still, despite the hiccups, we finish installing the room at 9:30 p.m. and everyone is thrilled.

It’s review time. The owner loves it and we get approval to start buying the goods for the 180-plus other rooms. This needs to happen quickly because we need to be complete by Thanksgiving to have the property fully renovated in time for Art Basel, the best art event in the country.

We have a meeting with our uniform supplier to discuss design direction for uniforms for this hotel and for the future direction of fashion as it relates to our uniform programs for Palomar and Monaco hotels.

That very afternoon, I fly to Philadelphia to install a model room at our soon-to-be newest Hotel Monaco.

The universe owed me an easy install after Miami and he gave it to me. All goes well, and in a day and a half we have a perfect room!

Of course, my hectic schedule carried on after that. The next week, I took a train to New York City for a two-day photo shoot and PR event at 70Park Hotel to re-launch the hotel after a big renovation. From NYC, I flew to Wisconsin for the weekend to hang out with my family for my niece’s birthday. Monday morning I was back at it, flying to Washington D.C. for a model room review at Madera Hotel.

Chances are, with all this travel, I might bump into you — anytime, anywhere — soon. Life is busy, but I couldn’t imagine it any other way. Looking forward to crossing paths!

~ Ave