Boutique Design Events and Trade Fairs

The fifth annual Boutique Design West (BDwest) trade fair and conference for the hospitality design community drew 2,341 attendees to the Los Angeles Convention Center, including industry professionals from 39 U.S. states and eight countries around the globe. Registrants for event came from Canada, China, Mexico, Netherlands, Singapore, Uganda and the U.K., along with industry peers from across the continental U.S. and Hawaii to source design elements for hospitality interiors, take part in conference sessions, earn CEUs and network with industry innovators from both sides of the designer/client table.

“We were delighted with the high caliber of speakers and attendees who participated in this year’s trade fair,” says Michelle Finn, president, HMG, and senior vice president, ST Media Group Intl. “Particularly impressive was the scope of hospitality project work on the drawing boards. Our customers commented on being able to connect with design professionals who were interested in the purchase/specification of their products for upcoming projects. BDwest’s relaxed environment contributed to a meaningful business exchange.”

Editor’s note: A full recap of BDwest 2017 will be included in the June edition of Boutique Design magazine.

This year’s fair—which took place April 5 and 6—featured more than 40,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space with 244 manufacturers and marketers showcasing innovative furniture, lighting, floorcoverings, fabrics, wallcoverings, art, accessories, bath and spa, and other design elements for hospitality spaces. Finn said the fair’s focused product selection, highly personalized service and friendly vibe delivered the best of both worlds for design professionals who want to discover new products and find ideas, but also get their questions answered and establish relationships with potential suppliers.

“BDwest retained a boutique feel while providing an abundance of business opportunities for exhibitors and attendees,” she adds.

Larry Carver, president of leading hospitality purchasing firm Carver & Associates, concurs. “I made a large purchase from a new supplier as a result of a pre-arranged, exhibit-floor meeting at BDwest,” he says. “The ability to have meaningful conversations with so many relevant, high-caliber companies—on the spot, in their display space—is a huge time-saver for us.”

Here are some highlights:

CONFERENCE SESSIONS
Running concurrently with the two-day trade fair, BDwest’s conference program featured 100-plus speakers in interactive panel discussions—eight with IDCEC and AIA accreditation—and intimate Q+As on the exhibit floor. Panelists included visionaries from Ace Hotels, Aparium Hotel Group, Best Western Hotels & Resorts, Cachet Hospitality Group, Dream Hotel Group, Equinox Hospitality, Gensler, Geolo Capital, HBA/Hirsch Bedner Associates, Hilton, Holiday Inn Americas, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group, Lark Hotels, Marriott Intl., MOXY Hotels, Puccini Group, Rockwell Group, Stonehill & Taylor, The Gettys Group, Viceroy Hotel Group, WATG, Wilson Associates and more, in a program that featured more owners and developers than in previous years and a greater emphasis on skill-building, how-to information for design professionals.

One of the most talked-about sessions of the conference was the “Investors’ Outlook” panel on Wednesday morning, April 5, featuring executives from Bainbridge, The Chartres Lodging Group, Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties Co. Ltd., Hersha Hospitality Management, KSL Capital Partners and TQP Investments LLC. Their thoughts on where the smart development money is going in 2017 and beyond provided food for thought for an audience of designers, operators and buyers/specifiers interested in the financial aspects of hospitality design and the overall economic trends affecting this industry.

Among the other sessions garnering buzz on the exhibit floor: “Fine Print: The Art of Specifying,” with panelists from Clear on Black, Planning, Design & Application, Inc. and Ramsey & Associates; “The Other Side: Designers, Clients and Making the Perfect Project,” with panelists from Beleco, KHP Capital Partners, Theresa Fatino Design and Westmont Hospitality Group; and the standing-room-only “Wood 101: Achieving Design Vision and Budget Through Furniture Manufacturing,” with panelists from High Point University, Lacquer Craft Hospitality, Looney and Associates, North Carolina State University and Seminole State College. Other sessions explored topics such as social media, biophilic design, hot sectors in hospitality—from pop-ups to cruise ships, and best-practice strategies for everything from designing more attention-getting and profitable restaurants to creating seamless collaborations.

“I thought the panels were excellent,” said George Scammell, director of hotel design and refurbishment, Holland America Group, Serving Princess Cruise Lines, who reported a productive trade fair experience. “I saw some products on display at BDwest that we would like to purchase immediately for the guest room cabins aboard one of our ships.”

BDwest attendees also had multiple opportunities to engage with thought leaders in the industry, from the interactive “Meet the Boutique 18” and the “2017 Up-and-Coming Hoteliers” sessions to the signature “Boutique Design Power Players: Women Leaders in Hospitality” breakfast and panel discussion, presented in partnership with NEWH, and sponsored by Lusive Décor. A ticketed event moderated by Mary Scoviak, executive editor, Boutique Design, and conference director, HMG, the Power Players panel included: Sophia Chan, interior design director at Miami, Florida-based Crescent Heights; Mary Beth Cutshall, senior vice president & chief business development officer at Atlanta, Georgia-based HVMG (Hospitality Ventures Management Group); Misty Delbridge, executive vice president at Englewood, Florida-based Montague; Amy Jakubowski, managing director & design director at Dallas, Texas-based Wilson Associates; Kay Lang, president + chief executive officer at Los Angeles, California-based Kay Lang + Associates; and Jeanne Starling, director of design development at Las Vegas, Nevada-based MGM Resorts International Design.

“BDwest’s 2017 conference programming gave attendees a one-stop shop for making their projects and processes the best they can be,” says Scoviak. “Our Investor Outlook, Women Leaders and Megatrends panels gave them insights into what’s ahead for the industry. Our Up-and-Coming Hoteliers, Lifestyle Leaders and Brand Central executives drilled down on how hotel concepts will change and what that means for design concepts, budgets and time frames. The 20-plus panels as well as the interactive sessions in the Designed Spaces on the trade fair floor ticked ‘need-to-know’ boxes on everything from how to write the perfect spec to how to create a living wall in a pop-up space. Attendees got a 360-degree look at their industry and opportunities.”

Also at the Women Leaders breakfast, NEWH awarded its $5,000 NEWH Women Leaders Scholarship, sponsored by HMG, to Scarlett Schmitt, a hospitality management major at Kendall College, and the $3,000 NEWH Colleen Smith Studio Series Scholarship, sponsored by Séura, to Louis Jeong Soo Kim, an environmental design major at the Art Center College of Design.

DESIGNED SPACES
This year’s trade fair featured five BDwest signature Designed Spaces for on-floor conversations, each created by a leading hospitality design firm using a curated mix of exhibitor/sponsor product.

Designed Spaces for 2017 included: Midnight Garden, a lush, tactile space taking cues from “Alice in Wonderland,” by Marriott Intl. Global Design; Ooh-La-La!, a sexy lounge concept fusing elegant architecture with provocative accents, inspired by the extravagant Parisian culture, by Stonehill & Taylor; Aaltitude, a soothing, Nordic-inspired conservatory and outdoor Gaarten with Scandinavian-modern-inspired furnishings, lighting and textiles, by The Gettys Group; Darling Nikki, an homage to the musical icon Prince, juxtaposing fierce femininity and bold masculinity using innovative technologies and layers of details, by Washington, D.C.-based P3 Design Collective; and the Cabanas, a lounge space melding driftwood, stone, weathered woods and hints of blue into an indoor spin on the laid-back SoCal aesthetic, by Meyer Davis Studio.

SOCIAL EVENTS
More than 480 hospitality design professionals came together for the BDwest Opening Reception on April 4 at Vibiana, a historic Catholic cathedral turned event space in L.A.’s Little Tokyo district.

On the evening of April 5, 220+ attendees packed Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles’s Spanish Gothic-style theater for the Boutique 18 and Up-and-Coming Hoteliers Celebration, which included a cocktail reception and rapid-fire Q&A with this year’s honorees—all rising stars in the hospitality industry. The 2017 Boutique 18 class includes inductees from Arcsine, Avenue Interior Design, Determined by Design, DLR Group, Elkus Manfredi Architects, Harken Interiors, J/Brice Design Intl., Josh Held Design, Hirsch Bedner Associates/HBA, Holland America Group serving Princess Cruises, Jeffry Beers Intl., Meyer Davis, Puccini Group, Rice Fergus Miller, Rottet Studio, Stantec Architecture, Studio McCormack and Wilson Associates.

Winners of the 2017 Up-and-Coming Hoteliers awards include: Robert Blood, founder and chief executive officer, Lark Hotels; Alexander Mirza, co-founder and chief executive officer, Cachet Hospitality Group; Vicki Poulos, senior brand director, MOXY Hotels; Kevin Robinson, co-founder and chief operating officer, Aparium Hotel Group; and Mario Tricoci, co-founder and chief executive officer, Aparium Hotel Group.

Capping the show’s final day was the NEWH Orange County and Los Angeles Founding Chapters’ Hospitality Fashion Challenge competition, in which design-firm teams craft couture fashions from scraps of tile, carpet and other reusable design elements donated by BDwest exhibitors and sponsors. Garments from 15 design teams were modeled, judged and auctioned at the NEWH Hospitality Fashion Challenge Runway Event, held at Exchange LA, a four-level nightclub in the former Los Angeles Stock Exchange building. More than 420 BDwest participants attended the event, with auction proceeds benefiting NEWH initiatives.

The team from ForrestPerkins took “Best in Show” honors with an almost perfect score, receiving a $3,000 cash prize. Second place went to the HBA/Hirsch Bedner Associates team; third place to the TVS Design team. Judges for this year’s Fashion Challenge included: Daniel Hyde, vice president of design, development & construction, Pacifica Hotels; David Kuperberg, chief development officer, Dream Hotel Group; Mark Pratt, vice president, national director of hospitality, The Walsh Group; George Scammell, director, hotel design & refurbishment, Holland America Group serving Princess Cruises; Lora Spran, manager interior design, NBC Universal Creative; Sam Suleman, principal & executive vice president, Equinox Hospitality; and Swati A. Valbh-Patel, co-principal, Prospera Hotels.

BDwest returns April 4-5, 2018, at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Details about exhibitors, sessions, speakers and social events, as well as attendee registration and exhibitor information, will be available at boutiquedesignwest.com as they become available.

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