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HI Connect® Designer Spotlight - Barrett Design Studio

Today we speak with Celia Barrett of Barrett Design Studio as part of our series focusing on the hospitality designers, architects and purchasing pros participating in HI Connect® 2015.

Friday, March 20, 2015
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HI Connect®®
HI Connect®
Experience a Design Revolution

We’re getting ready for our BIG HI Connect® event coming this March 25-27, 2015 at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, TN. Act Now and register to be a part of this amazing event now in its fourth year!

We’ve got dozens of built out fully constructed out vignettes created by leading hospitality designers, architects and purchasing professional. And those attending HI Connect® will get to step into their master creations, get a tour and see products in the context in which they belong; in a real hotel environment!

HI Connect® offers attendees an incredible opportunity to view, first hand, original concepts designed by industry designers, architects and purchasing companies in collaboration with suppliers shown in context within a real environment. You’ll see guest rooms, bathrooms, and public spaces such as Bar/Lounge, Spa/Fitness to name a few. This is a truly the most collaborative effort ever at any hospitality event.

As part of our countdown to HI Connect® 2015 we’re interviewing the people that are bringing their creative vision to life. Read the story below, or listen to their story.

Act now to be a part of this game changing event. For more information relating to this unique and dramatic experience at HI Connect® experience March 25-27, 2015, visit our dedicated website to learn more. Register now for this unique event setting a new standard for hospitality tradeshows. Or call 631-424-7755 x150 for an immediate response.

For today’s interview, Editor-In-Chief Glenn Haussman speaks with Celia Barrett of Barrett Design Studio who is creating a Luxury Guestroom during the three days of HI Connect®.

Glenn Haussman: I am excited because you are coming back to HI Connect®.

Celia Barrett: I know; I know. I loved it last year. I loved it. It was so new to me, and so different and exciting, and I was a little bit of a lost lamb. You know?

Glenn Haussman: [Laughs] Yeah.

Celia Barrett: But I enjoyed it, and I got a lot out of it and made great contacts. And I loved my own room. [laughs]

Glenn Haussman: That's great. And, you know, when she says her own room, that's what makes HI Connect®different than any other show that's out there. Celia and other designers and major brands, like Marriott and Best Western, are creating their own spaces, their own vignettes to fully bring to life an artistic vision. Instead of seeing things piecemeal all over a show floor, Celia is bringing it all together in a beautiful package in a luxury guest room. And I really loved your room last year –

Celia Barrett: Oh, thank you, thank you.

Glenn Haussman: – and I can't wait to see what you have going on this year.

But as a luxury guest room, before we talk about what you're thinking about with HI Connect®, I want to talk about what's going on right now in luxury.

Celia Barrett: Mmm, yeah.

Glenn Haussman: As we record this interview, we're at the Hotel del Coronado, looking out over the beautiful Pacific Ocean.

Celia Barrett: Oh my god, I know.

Glenn Haussman: Gorgeous old property.

Celia Barrett: Mm-hmm.

Glenn Haussman: Still trying to represent luxury today, but luxury is shifting, and –

Celia Barrett: Very much.

Glenn Haussman: – this hotel's been here 150 years. How do you look forward to the future of luxury while still, somehow, clinging to where you've been?

Celia Barrett: And I mean luxury is the same thing from the beginning of time in that it is time, number one, and it's the luxurious feeling that one has when they come in. But how one creates that is changing constantly.

And we're – as designers, we're always looking for, "Okay, what – how can we bring that exciting touch to guest rooms specifically?" And I don't know, I've been trying to think – always thinking, "What is exciting about today? What's exciting about tomorrow?"

And when you think about tomorrow, you start going, "Okay, how can we bring in 3-D printing, for example?"

Glenn Haussman: 3-D printing? That's not something that I normally associate –

Celia Barrett: With hotels, right?

Glenn Haussman: And luxury.

Celia Barrett: I know. But it's luxury in the sense that it's a new technology that as a designer I think we're going to be able to use, as hoteliers I think people can use them because you can create a prototype. Maybe instead of a prototype room, maybe we'll have a little 3-D room that's completely built by a 3-D printer or something like that. Or wait; let me say it's a full-size room out of a 3-D printer.


Celia Barrett: Or something like that.

Glenn Haussman: It might be a little uncomfortable squeezing into that little, mini model.

Celia Barrett: Yeah, don't sit on it. But you can look at it. You know? Or maybe when you walk in the room, I've always thought – I had this wonderful idea that when you walk in, and you've answered maybe a couple of little questions that when the hotel knows you're coming, and they've said, "Well, what do you like here; do you like this," and they know one or two little things about you, and you walk in, and a little avatar appears on the television.

Glenn Haussman: That's cool.

Celia Barrett: I know. And maybe – I don't know, maybe it's three different avatars; you can choose the one you like. Maybe there's a human being. Maybe there's a little funny little character. I'd probably pick the little funny character.

Glenn Haussman: Right, yeah.

Celia Barrett: You know? Maybe he's dressed like a local, because that gives you the feeling. You know?

Glenn Haussman: I like that, yeah.

Celia Barrett: And then you – and they say, "Well, hello, Mr. Haussman. What can I do for you," or, "How – would you like your breakfast at what time in the morning? May I tell you about the local festivals?" Or, you know, whatever that you would like to know.

Glenn Haussman: That's cool. It's almost like bringing a concierge to life right in your guestroom.

Celia Barrett: Right in your guestroom, exactly. That could be fun.

Glenn Haussman: It will be fun until the computers take over, like in 2001.

Celia Barrett: Yeah, that might happen, too. But then again –

Glenn Haussman: It would be like, "What are you doing, Glenn?"


Celia Barrett: By then, though, you know that we will have no fingers; it'll all be thumbs.

Glenn Haussman: Right. [Laughs]

Celia Barrett: And all heads, and no – and we won't be talking like this, because it'll be all telepathy.

Glenn Haussman: That's true.

Celia Barrett: You know? And we'll – that's why – I think that's what Martians are. Okay, I'm getting real crazy here.

Glenn Haussman: No, I don't think so.

Celia Barrett: But, you know, they have no mouths. All the Martians I've met, it's all mental and thinking out loud.

Glenn Haussman: That's true. That is a commonality among Martians.

Celia Barrett: They used to look like us.

Glenn Haussman: They did, but then they got smarter, and they got those big, giant heads.

Celia Barrett: Big heads and no hands.

Glenn Haussman: I'm wondering when we're going to all wake up one day and have big heads and then just wear the same clothing, which I always think is a thing of the future. Why do we all have to wear exactly the same thing?

Celia Barrett: Or all you'll have to do is think about your clothing, and it will appear. Although then, boy, we'd put the fashion industry completely out. That would not work.

Glenn Haussman: Yeah. I don't think they'd stand for that. But I love that we're imagining the future potential in hospitality.

Celia Barrett: Yeah, that's just what I try – you know, when we're starting a project, to bring it back a little bit to reality – not much, I don't like reality.

Glenn Haussman: No, I think that you're onto something.

Celia Barrett: But when we start a project, I get my design staff in my little conference room, and we'll start pinning things on the wall, and we'll start completely thinking – I don't even – I don't like the term "out of the box," because it's so in the box. And I think, "Oh my god." But try to think just beyond the box, I guess, maybe.

Glenn Haussman: Yeah, yeah, I like that.

Celia Barrett: And think, "Okay, what kind of shapes fit this area? What kind of..." I mean we're trying to figure out to bring in turkeys into a project right now because they have – they're known for their turkey shoot in their festival.

Glenn Haussman: Right, okay.

Celia Barrett: So, abstract turkeys? I don't know.

Glenn Haussman: Maybe you can have a turkey shooting game on the video screen.

Celia Barrett: [Gasp] That's it. Oh my god, can I use that?

Glenn Haussman: Of course.

Celia Barrett: Do I need to put your name on it?


Glenn Haussman: Just don't name the turkey after me.

Celia Barrett: Or the turkey is the avatar. There you go. You know, it's – I don't know.

Glenn Haussman: Unfortunately, it has a big, giant Martian head, which is a little weird.

Celia Barrett: Yeah, well, that's true, and he has no thumbs, but maybe they're ahead of us already. I don't know. But their heads are very small. Never mind, I won't go there.

Glenn Haussman: So, creativity and bringing that out in that atmosphere.

Celia Barrett: Yeah. And just truly thinking, "Okay, if there's – if there's – what about this whole area, this whole locale brings in some sort of a color scheme of course?" I mean I think those are the kind of things that it gets narrowed down to. Like where do you pull your color scheme? Where do you pull the details and the shapes? But you've got to start really wild first, I think.

Glenn Haussman: I just think, "Oh, you just sit there, and an idea comes to mind."

Celia Barrett: As most people do. Yeah, of course, that's what I do, mm-hmm. And it takes about a minute.

Glenn Haussman: Right, and then you're just done. Right. Which is why nobody values what creative people go through, right?

Celia Barrett: I'm not going there either. I know; it's so frustrating.

Glenn Haussman: But so you're – is really cool that you go into this room, and you break down the elements of the story that you're doing.

Celia Barrett: Mm-hmm, and try to – exactly – put together the story and try to find the elements. And they may be completely unrelated, probably are, because I don't want anybody to be intimidated or try, at that point, to do anything that connects. And then we will gradually pull it together, and then gradually make it – give it a bit of a shape and have it make sense in. And I'm making little box shapes in the air here, which you can't see, but –

Glenn Haussman: Thank you for sharing that with the listeners.

Celia Barrett: – yeah, but to just give it a direction. But that direction is in 20 directions in the beginning, and then you drop 10 immediately, because they're very crazy. And then you narrow it down, and then you make it function the way that particular property has to function.

Glenn Haussman: That's really –

Celia Barrett: That's the fun part.

Glenn Haussman: That is the fun part.

Celia Barrett: I know, yeah.

Glenn Haussman: Then what? You have to try to bring it to life and get into the mechanics of doing all that.

Celia Barrett: Well then you – of course, then you start working on the overall concept. And I start with sketches. I'm still a drawing board person; I'm sorry. But I mean – and my staff is not as much, but I forced them to, you know, to start thinking first on paper, thinking in sketches, thinking in photographs.

Glenn Haussman: Why? What does that – what does that do as opposed to using the computer?

Celia Barrett: Because that – that brings a feeling of scale to the whole look. I think it brings – it helps you develop it in your right brain, I guess, and makes the elements start to come together in your mind, as a designer. Then, once you start pulling up the CAD drawings and pulling up the plans that perhaps that the architect has e-mailed you, you can then start taking the thoughts that you've had a little more abstractly and pulling them in and making them make sense.

Glenn Haussman: Do you think that we're losing that art in the world of creativity?

Celia Barrett: Oh my god, no. No, I don't at all. There are so many fabulous creative designers out there. Now, that just happens to be the way I think, and maybe it's because I'm a little older and – I won't say that – I'm a little more experienced.

Glenn Haussman: We'll just say not a Millennial.

Celia Barrett: Yes. No, we're not a Millennial here. And we're experienced enough to know what a pencil is, that there's graphite at the end of there. And we used to make fun of his, "Make the graphite fly." You know, just sketch, sketch, sketch first. But no, I think there's an amazing creativity out there.

Glenn Haussman: So, how do you balance, then, being creative in more traditional ways with the new technology that's coming? Let's bring it back to that technology aspect.

Celia Barrett: Well, for one thing, I mean just the little things – and this is not so new, but being able to take all of that and then to put it into a sketch-up perhaps so it becomes more 3-D. And a sketch-up is a – you know, it's a computer program that you can – that my younger ones do it a whole lot faster than I do. So, I'll hand it to Casey or one of my younger designers.

Glenn Haussman: Associates, yeah.

Celia Barrett: And we can bring that up and then – and then we can print ha in different ways, and it gives us a 3-D sketch, and we can start sketching on top of it again. And you can also see where, "Oh, wait, I forgot all about this corner over here," you know, without concentrating too hard on it I guess.

Glenn Haussman: Right, yeah. That's pretty interesting. I really have no idea how this creative process works, or how it really goes.

Celia Barrett: Well, it works in so many different angles.

Glenn Haussman: Right.

Celia Barrett: And people work in different ways, I think. And everyone in our office works in a little bit different way.

Glenn Haussman: I think you're right, 'cause when it comes to creativity, we're all programmed differently, and we've learned to get those creative juices flowing in different kind of ways.

Celia Barrett: Yeah.

Glenn Haussman: So, we're all kind of unique and eccentric, I guess, in that sort of a way.

Celia Barrett: I think so. I mean sometimes I make my staff get up and jump up and down in circles.

Glenn Haussman: That's good. But I used to –

Celia Barrett: They love that, I can tell you.

Glenn Haussman: I used to fight specific patterns of procrastination before getting down to it. But then I realized that that procrastination period is actually where ideas are fomenting inside my brain.

Celia Barrett: Well, you know, I was reading the other night somewhere – I don't even remember where, but how much you do need that time to go get out of the office the office, go somewhere.

You know, it was – when I was in New York full time, it was go to the coffee shop and pull out the paper napkins and sketch on them. And so many things have been designed on paper napkins. You know? And you just need to get away. You need to think and ponder and stare.

I think that is one thing that I miss from having CAD drawings to a drawing board, because sometimes I will have, just if it's a room, or a lobby or something, I will print it to scale and pin it down myself. And when everybody's gone, and it's starting to get dark out, I can sit on my father's drawing board, which is an old one, and let those vibes kind of play.

Glenn Haussman: Right. Yeah.

Celia Barrett: I'm sounding terribly abstract, aren't I?

Glenn Haussman: No, no. You're not sounding terribly abstract, and I'm sure there are a lot of design folk and other creative people that are listening to this that understand it. I think that the creative mind functions in a little bit different way than a more analytical, financial type of mind. And you can see it just in the way the personalities are expressed with people in our business.

Celia Barrett: Sometimes it has to germinate. Sometimes it is the wake up in the middle of the night and go, "Oh my god, that's it," kind of a thing.

Glenn Haussman: Yeah, it really is, 'cause creativity is one of those things that can't be forced to happen. But if you want to truly be creative, I think you just have to keep –


Celia Barrett: And that doesn't apply just to design.

Glenn Haussman: That's right.

Celia Barrett: I mean it can be any kind of creativity. One of my favorite –

Glenn Haussman: I can't even design a stick figure, so I can't even talk to what you're doing.

Celia Barrett: Yeah, but do you know what? I use – one of my favorite TV shows was House. Do you remember House?

Glenn Haussman: Of course.

Celia Barrett: And it would be the same scenario all the time, and there would be this point, some three-quarters of the way in the show, where he would be talking to Wilson or somebody else about something else entirely, and all of a sudden you'd see it in his brain go "ding." "Ah, that's what that is," and he'd run back to the hospital. And it would be something else that somebody said or did that triggered it. And that is often the way it happens.

Glenn Haussman: It's true. So, I would say you probably need to get out there and experience life and try lots of different things.

Celia Barrett: I think so. I think so. I think that's why travel helps. You know? I mean it opens up your creativity. I'm excited; my niece is going into fashion design, and she's going to get to go to Milan this summer, and I'm so excited for her. I mean it will just open her mind.

Glenn Haussman: Yeah.

Celia Barrett: Or if not that, then you start – you can go on the Internet and start finding and googling wild and crazy things. And that will spur something.

Glenn Haussman: Right. Very interesting. Now – talk about traveling – you are going to be traveling to HI Connect® March 25 through 27.

Celia Barrett: Oh, boy.

Glenn Haussman: Doing a luxury guestroom.

Celia Barrett: I am.

Glenn Haussman: I don't want to give it away –

Celia Barrett: Mm-mmm, mm-mmm, mm-mmm, not doing it.

Glenn Haussman: – because we want people to see it and experience it and get that first impression then. But what were some of the things that you're thinking about, in generalizations, when putting this project together?

Celia Barrett: Oh, we don't be general at all. We're very specific.

Glenn Haussman: Okay. Share, share.

Celia Barrett: Start general, go down to specific. But just a little hint. Let's say if Spock were still alive, he would be very comfortable in our room. Let's put it that way.

Glenn Haussman: Yeah.

Celia Barrett: I know, wasn’t that sad?

Glenn Haussman: I was a big Leonard Nimoy fan. Well, sad, yes, but you know –

Celia Barrett: You got the look on his face when –


Glenn Haussman: I know.

Celia Barrett: – I said that. It was like, "Oh."

Glenn Haussman: I grew up with the repeat to the original Star Trek.

Celia Barrett: Oop, okay. I probably saw the originals.

Glenn Haussman: It'd be on every Saturday night, when my parents were ditching me to go out with their friends and have a good time, and it was me and Spock hanging out, trying to "live long and prosper."

Celia Barrett: Well, you just come on into my room at HI Connect®?, and you will feel right at home.

Glenn Haussman: Excellent.

Celia Barrett: Let's put it that way.

Glenn Haussman: All right. So, we're gonna see –

Celia Barrett: The final frontier.

Glenn Haussman: The final –

Celia Barrett: Comfort, the final frontier.

Act now to be a part of this game changing event. For more information relating to this unique and dramatic experience at HI Connect® experience March 25-27, 2015, visit our dedicated website to learn more. Register now for this unique event setting a new standard for hospitality tradeshows. Or call 631-424-7755 x150 for an immediate response.

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