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Web Exclusive: Alejandra Lillo

(July 2013) posted on Wed Jul 10, 2013

A Q+A with one of BD’s “Heroes and Mavericks”

In the June 2013 issue of Boutique Design magazine, Undisclosable’s founder (and former Graft Lab ceo) shared her thoughts on the designer’s changing role in hospitality projects, how to make edgy style sell and how to marry form and function. Here, she goes deeper into her own process, her inspirations and what it’s like to be a woman in the corner office.

Q: What did you want to do differently with Undisclosable?

A: Our business strategy is very straightforward and begins with the simple acknowledgement that architecture and interior design are part of a service industry. We are the medium that enables the translation of intangible concepts into built physical expression. It is our intention that the project be about itself and an expression of the brand it represents, rather than primarily an extension of our interests or current fascinations as designers. I do not want to seem like I am devaluing our personal interests; they are certainly relevant. However, we tend to pursue them in a more introverted research and development format.

What do clients look for in a successful hospitality project?

Every project wrestles with socioeconomic and geopolitical contextual issues, and last but certainly not least there is the evolving and oftentimes fickle nature of an extraordinarily well travelled global consumer. Our ability to stay current in this challenge is intimately related to our ability to identify consumer needs, nascent trends (social, aesthetic, technological and economic) and marry these to the operator’s functional needs, aesthetic desires and core brand values.

You’ve been called a “maverick.” What is boldest choice you’ve made?

The most controversial decision I’ve made was to leave a well-known, established firm where I’d become partner after years of hard work and effort to start my own business, during a recession no less. While a start-up is truly a labor of love and takes extraordinary amounts of time and dedication, the outcome has exceeded our expectations and given us opportunities to collaborate with incredible individuals. We’ve produced the most fulfilling work we’ve ever participated in and we are only just getting started!

What were the challenges of moving from in-the-trenches designer to studio head?


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