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HI Connect® Designer Spotlight - DPOV's Anne Borrelli Smith

Today we speak with Ann Borrelli Smith, DPOV Interiors, as part of our series focusing on the hospitality designers, architects and purchasing pros that are part of HI Connect® Design 2014.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014
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HI Connect®®
HI Connect®
Experience a Design Revolution

We’re getting ready for our BIG event HI Connect® Design coming this April 2-4, 2014 at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, TN.

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

HI Connect® Design offers attendees an incredible opportunity to view, first hand, original concepts designed by industry designers and purchasing companies in collaboration with suppliers shown in context within a real environment of a guest room, bathroom, 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® 2014 we’re interviewing the people that are bringing their creative vision to life. Read the story below, or for a more fully in-depth interview listen to their story below.

For today’s interview, Editor-In-Chief Glenn Haussman speaks Ann Borrelli Smith, DPOV Interiors. DPOV is creating a boutique guest room during the three days of HI Connect® Design.

Glenn: I love what you guys did last year, and it's great to see that you're going to be participating again this year. You're going to be working oncoming a boutique guest room. Now, I don't really want to ask you too many questions about what you're going to be doing. Why? Because I gotta get these guys to come down and see for themselves. We're not gonna give away all those corporate secrets. But what I do want to know, want to know a little bit about how you see the boutique hotel movement these days. I'm senses it's time for a little bit of a change. How do you see it?

Anne: Well, it's definitely got to stand apart. And I think the way that people do that is just being creative and getting to think outside the box instead of the mainstream brands. Sometimes they have a specific look that they want to keep throughout all their hotels, where this, each resort can end up being, having its own identity, creative with color, details, just thinking outside the box.

Glenn: So I sense that the boutique hotels are starting to mature a little bit. I think that's because the rest of the industry has caught on that the boutique hotels are doing something right. So the mainstream industry has stolen all of the good ideas from the boutique industry, and now the boutique industry's kinda gotta get re-jiggered. Would you agree? And, if so, how do you see it?

Anne: Yes. I mean, I do see some of the brands trying to finally see and realize it's about being unexpected and making memories, making those little details that people will remember and want to come back and just stand apart.

Glenn: So how do you create the unexpected? Maybe you could give us an example of a project that you've worked on or really are fond of and how that unexpected element made you more interested in the property?

Anne: I think it's also tying into the area and show ing, you know, what that city has to offer, the people the artists, making that stand apart for many other, instead of the typical picking out of the catalog and maybe used local sources for case goods and details and artwork, I think, definitely. And then the details, also, the most recent one that I did that actually was up for a Gold Key Award.

Glenn: Yeah. Congratulations.

Anne: Thank you. There are just little things like taking, you know, hidden words, maybe a word embroidered on a pillow or maybe on the mirror, it was etched into the mirror. Just those little things. And it makes also a discovery for the guests, too, to find. And then we actually took these chairs, I think, I mentioned last time from Yaya and hung them differently, maybe on the ceiling, on the wall, and it was-

Glenn: That's neat.

Anne: Yeah, yeah, unexpected, that little detail.

Glenn: Now, before we turned on the mics, you were talking about being bolder with designs. You can't be safe. Why do you think that?

Anne: Because people expect more. They see more now. They're, you know, exposed to so much from, you know, design on shows, magazine. People are making themselves more aware of what's out there, and they want the different.

Glenn: Yeah, and you're also competing with every other hotel memory they had. It's not like in the 1970 where the only hotel memories I had was the Holiday Inn at this rest stop and the Holiday Inn at that rest stop. Now my kids and their peers are growing up in a world where they're getting to really travel and have crazy experiences. And then there are folks like us that are on the road all the time, too. So that's gotta keep you really thinking hard on how to make something fresh.

Anne: I mean, it's also... I mean, it's not just a place to lay your head anymore. I mean, it's the whole experience now. And, you know, there's a lot going into just even, you know, adding spas and services and all those extras, too and making it a place where people want to come to see your hotel as well or resort, not just, you know, what's in the surrounding area.

Glenn: Right, yeah, absolutely. I think that makes sense. But at the same time you've gotta have a relationship with the area that you're in as well. So it's more of a seamless experience, right?

Anne: Exactly. Like, this new project I have, there's an old manor on the estate, and we're gonna try to bring in some details from that, from the family that actually is from, I think, the 18th Century. So, you know, just trying to research that, maybe somehow bring in some ideas.

Glenn: All right. So that's pretty cool though. A manor estate.

Anne: Yes, yeah.

Glenn: So are you actually converting that building, or you're building adjacent to it?

Anne: No. The lodge is actually on the property, close to where the manor was built.

Glenn: That's pretty cool.

Anne: Yeah, yeah.

Glenn: Where's this located? What state?

Anne: In Virginia.

Glenn: Oh, that's a lot of nice Rolling Hills there and-

Anne: It's very pretty. Yeah, there's horse farms around that area, too. So that kinda detail, bringing the equestrian detail to it.

Glenn: All right. So tell me a little bit more about bringing in equestrian detail. Does that mean, you know, you're gonna have saddles in every room?

Anne: No. I want to try to do a custom head board and not make it so obvious, you know, the buckle to the saddle. Maybe that kinda small little detail and not like in your face kind of detail but just hints of that.

Glenn: That's much better than what I was gonna come up with. I was gonna come up with mid century stall, which would have been great, nice wood stall, nice pile of hay in the corner.

Anne: Like a pod, right?

Glenn: Yeah. And you know what? Every time you check in, you get a free bucket of oats. That's the hotel I would have designed. Not very successful.

Anne: No. I would say so. But you're adventurous.

Glenn: I'm gonna keep trying. I guess, that's being too unsafe with design.

Anne: Yes.

Glenn: All right. So you get to travel a lot, right in what out there around the world are you seeing that's new, different and kind of inspiring? And it doesn't have to be a hotel.

Anne: Well, always, I do try, every time, and I think I mentioned this last time, too. Is just go to museums, go to art galleries. Like, on our trip here, we went Upstate. That's where I actually grew up and went to Hyde Park.

Glenn: Right. And by here we're talking about New York City where we're recording this interview.

Anne: Yes, correct? A. And I grew up Upstate, so we went to Hyde Park, went to the Vanderbilt Mansion, FDR's grounds. We didn't get to go in FDR's home this time, but... So we walked the grounds. And just experiencing that, the Hudson valley, the scenery. It's just beautiful, and you can get... To be inspired from anything, from nature. Last week I was in Las Vegas and went to the Warhol Out West. It was a small gallery in the Bellagio. And actually I saw something there that just sparked my interest and makes me think of something that I can do for a new project.

Glenn: That's pretty cool.

Anne: Yeah, it's from his artwork.

Glenn: That's neat. Now you gotta... always on the lookout for inspiration, and I suppose sometimes you're actively looking for it, and then there are other times that you just-

Anne: Just happens.

Glenn: Yeah, right? That's neat. All right. So how did you first know that you wanted to get into this design business?

Anne: Actually, I knew since I was 14 or maybe even younger. I used to watch This Old House.

Glenn: Really?

Anne: Yes, years ago with Bob Vila.

Glenn: Wait. Weren't you the president of the Bob Vila fan club? I'm pretty sure I got letters from you.

Anne: No.

Glenn: All right. As I charter member. I paid, I think, five bucks a month, and I got a little decoder ring. It was shaped-

Anne: You're not serious?

Glenn: -in a size... you know, shaped like a saw horse, but it was really cute.

Anne: Oh, you're humorous.

Glenn: So, anyway, I didn't mean to derail your thoughts.

Anne: No, no, no. For some reason, too, my mom always knew. Well, I mean, I used to watch her paint and draw, and I was always intrigued by art, and I always... every time I cleaned my room, I'd change my room around, just different arrangements. So, I guess, I kinda knew since I was a young child, teenager.

Glenn: So what was your first job like out there in the world? Was it what you had expected, you know, what did you learn out of that experience?

Anne: Oh, in interior design?

Glenn: Yeah.

Anne: I actually did an internship here, at Perkins Eastman, and it was definitely... since I moved away from New York, and I was living in Tennessee, to then come back up here, I mean, that was just a big step, just to do alone and work in the city. But, I mean, it was... It's almost no comparison to that experience. So then when I went back... 'cause the high pace here. But it definitely opened my eyes to what they get to do and the detail, and they did let me work on a few projects or at least be exposed to it. And I knew, and I still knew that I wanted to go into... I wasn't afraid, so I kept going.

Glenn: You've gotta keep doing that, figure out-

Anne: I knew... I've always known this is my passion.

Glenn: Great. All right. So before we wrap up here, one last topic I want to talk to you about. What's going on in the world of color?

Anne: Well, color definitely is still pretty big, but I haven't seen yet what the Pantone color of the year is, but the way I see it is just using it still as a focal point or an accent. Not overwhelmingly the whole space. Like, I just did a neutral base in the dining chairs, the seat and the back were the same color. So just the contrast from the neutrals with just that one pop of color, I think, is easier on the eye when you have a balance, and you don't have so much.

Glenn: How do you balance the need to be cutting edge with color but make sure it's gonna be around for a while? 'Cause sometimes I see some designs that I know look great today, but I'm gonna come back a week from Thursday, and I'm gonna be, like, ugh.

Anne: Well, like I said, you use it sparingly. You don't overwhelm the eye with so much. And you... Maybe you use it on elements that can maybe be refurbished or, you know, redone in the future.

Glenn: Right, something that could be easily changed out, right.

Anne: Painted or changed out, change the finish, that kinda thing.

Glenn: All right. One question for you before we wrap up. Any advice if somebody wants to get involved in this interior design business? What should they do to really start their career off?

Anne: I think they definitely should have a passion for it and know that, you know, if you're artistic, creative, I think, helps, but also kinda know the business side of it, too, for longevity to understand the business as well.

Glenn: Right. I think that's really good advice. Yeah, so you want to be a designer for the hospitality industry. But what do you know about how a hotel operates? That's really critical. Because if you don't really get the understanding of-

Anne: Operations, yeah.

Glenn: -how many people are coming in and out of there, what the consumer desires are, or even how a property works behind the scene, in the back of house, you're gonna be trouble.

Anne: You should be respectful of the operating staff and how are they gonna maintain it. And that's also what you have to bring into it. Yeah, so you can be creative, but if it doesn't last more than a year, you know, that's cause for them to redo, you know, what you designed.

Glenn: And then you won't get hired back again.

Anne: Possibly, yeah.

Glenn: For sure.

Anne: And so we have good insurance.

Glenn: I like that. Well, I want to remind you guys to come out to HI Connect® Design 2014. That's hiconnectdesign.com. You can take a look at all the amazing photos from last year, including Anne's work from last year. And I'm sure that we'll tempt, tease and delight you into wanting to come to this year's event. So thanks again for listening and thanks to Anne Borrelli Smith of DPOV Interiors for being here. Thank you, Anne.

Anne: Thank you.

Act now to be a part of this amazing event. For more information relating to this unique and dramatic experience at HI Connect® Design, this April 2-4, 2014 visit HI Connect® Design to learn more and register for this unique event that sets the new standard in hospitality tradeshows.

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