Congrats, Ave Bradley! Kimpton’s Vice President of Design was just awarded a Wave of the Future honor from Hospitality Design magazine. She’s one of eight standout stars to get the distinction. If you’ve stayed at a few of our hotels recently, you’ll see why.
Ave just refreshed the guestrooms at Hotel Triton, transforming them into sunny yellow and green oases that nod to the eclecticism of San Francisco. She also opened the stunning new-build Hotel Palomar Phoenix and its Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails. Ave is now putting the finishing touches on our soon-to-open Hotel Monaco Philadelphia, which is particularly noteworthy because it’s housed in a 1906 architectural landmark.
How did Ave get here and how does she do it? We thought she’d say lots and lots of coffee. Instead, the travel-loving designer thrives on morning walks and mines inspiration everywhere she goes.
We caught up with Ave to find out more.
What did you do before coming to Kimpton?
I started in sales at Pottery Barn trying to learn everything I could about home furnishings. I became the furniture buyer there before being lured to the design team for W Hotels. I stayed with W for about seven years and opened the first two dozen properties for them. After that I launched a consulting business called Fishnet Holdings, where I did a lot of various hospitality projects, including a Trump property in Waikiki. Through Fishnet, I also had the wonderful opportunity to get to know some of the people at Kimpton and eventually got the chance to come here full-time. There was so much energy at Kimpton and I saw so many opportunities and exciting projects. I wanted to be a part of where the company was going; I knew there was something special here.
What drew you to the hospitality industry?
In hospitality we’re designing spaces meant to engage and entertain the guest … places that people visit, where they don’t have to come home to every night. That gives us a lot of freedom to really explore and push the boundaries of design. You can make bolder moves and decisions, because the intention is to give them something they don’t get in their everyday lives. That’s the fun of it – the freedom to offer an experience they will never have again. We always design with the goal of putting smiles on our guests’ faces.
What type if work is involved in your typical day?
Every day is different – which is what makes it so interesting. When I’m doing an installation, I’m onsite from beginning to end. I put on my hard hat and a big pair of boots and hit the construction site. My job is to just be available for all of the questions that come up in the field based on conditions. There are always questions, from how to detail a fireplace mantel to what elevation the chandeliers should be hung. The construction team works from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m., so I’m there with them and then my normal day starts. I catch up on email and document the whole installation process. I’m hyper organized and love recapping. There are usually conference calls with my design, inspiration or purchasing teams. Plus, I’m always meeting with new vendors and designers to become familiar with their work. Also, you’ll see me shopping … picking up books, candles, vases and such for styling.
How do you charge up for a busy day?
No matter where I am, home or on the road, I start every morning with a walk. If it’s on the beach, like at our hotels in Miami, that’s great. Otherwise, I head for a park. It’s so important for me to be surrounded by nature – the grass, trees and birds. When I’m finished walking, I sit down and give myself 20 minutes of silence to clear my mind in preparation for whatever the day will throw at me.
What recent hotel work are you most proud of?
It would have to be Hotel Monaco Philadelphia, which we’re about to open in October. It’s a very complicated project and I had three amazing design teams for the project: the hotel, the restaurant and the rooftop lounge. Every space is completely unique and equally spectacular. It was a very big project with a lot of public space, and happens to be in the historic Lafayette Building, a 1906 architectural landmark. Also, it’s arguably in the most historic part of the entire country. That’s not to mention it’s the 10th Hotel Monaco for Kimpton and we’re seeing the evolution of the Monaco aesthetic, moving it into the next generation.
What would your dream design project be?
A very high-end destination resort targeted at yoga retreats. It would be in an remote location with a lot of culture, history and architecture. The design would be pure and simple, very well detailed, not flashy or ostentatious – with a place to practice yoga outdoors and a killer spa. I’m thinking Borneo, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Tibet … a place you have to work to get to.
The world is your oyster, Ave. Congrats again!