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HI Connect® Designer Spotlight - Kimberly Kolcz

Today we speak with Kimberly Kolcz of Offay Design Studio as part of our series focusing on the hospitality designers, architects and purchasing pros participating in HI Connect® Design 2014.

Monday, February 03, 2014
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We’re getting ready for our BIG event HI Connect® Design coming this April 2-4, 2014 at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, TN. Act Now and register to be a part of this amazing event.

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 and Mark Viola speak with Kimberly Kolcz of Offay Design Studio, who is creating a boutique bathroom at HI Connect® Design for the three days of HI Connect® Design.

Glenn: Kimberly, you're gonna be doing a boutique bathroom at HI Connect® Design. And, you know, one of the things I like in every hotel room are bathrooms. I think we spend a lot of times in those bathrooms awake, much more so than in other parts of the room. So what do you like in a bathroom these days?

Kimberly: As we know, it is one of the features that an owner's looking for when they're looking at a new, innovative design. I think we're always going to look at the green products that are out there because it's just advantageous, not only to the design and the consumer, but also the end product, the end dollar as well.

Glenn: So does the consumer care about sustainability, or are they just saying they care about sustainability?

Kimberly: That's a really, really interesting question and one I think we're still trying to figure out quite, to be honest. What is the return on investment to market that and how much do we want to really put our focus there.

Glenn: Well, Kimberly I pretend I know everything, and I think I have an answer for you.

Kimberly: Okay. Please tell me.

Glenn: I think pretend is keyword. I think people sort of care about it. All things being equal, I think they like it. I don't think they're really too overly concerned about it. And I think that this is really the start of something that is going to be a major sea change. And I think one of the things is it's gonna be generational kind of shift. I think one of the things we do in society is we can't really adopt things very quickly. It's, like, we've got all these habits that have been inbred for us from birth. So I think we got to wait for the next generation to kinda carry the torch. And I think we're seeing that through society now expressing itself, for example, with, you know, gay marriage for example. That took a little while to get going. Even the going far back as, like, the temperance movement. It took a lot of years for them to get rid of alcohol. Of course, that didn't work out too well. But, hopefully, the sustainability issue will. But when you're talking to hotel owners about this, what is their attitude? And how do you get them on that page to participate in a sustainability effort?

Kimberly: Well, the biggest one is not only in the innovative products that you might be presenting to them but it is their return on investment, where do they want to put it? And I'm noticing when you were saying all the reasons why or why or why not, location, I'm finding, is a big one, too.

Glenn: How so?

Kimberly: So say you're in Portland. And you're wanting to do The Nines, which is amazing. I love Cliff Tuttle, and he did a great job. But that is a community that people... And also it's a destination where it is almost like assumed in some sense. So then, as opposed to other areas that you might go that might not be as in tuned.

Glenn: So we're trying to put together a sustainable bathroom, right? So what are some of the things that have that really strong return on investment for the owner that's going to make them smile?

Kimberly: Yeah. And one of the other things, too, is the ease of the product, I mean, the installation cost, you know, the actual product cost and all of that. So some of the easiest things you can do are in the plumbing fixtures and things like that. They're so easy to get and easy to install these days that really do make it an easy choice. Some of the, I would say, cutting-edge products aren't as easy to accommodate for yet. I would say yet. They're going to home in on some of those other items that are easy and that make them feel good, they can market them and all of that kind of stuff. That's where that balance comes in.

Mark: Right, right, I agree. I think the green movement is getting more and more popular day by day. But I think it's more about the next generation. I think maybe the hotel owner, hotel manager of tomorrow will care more about it than the hotel owner or hotel manager today.

Glenn: Yeah, I agree with you, Mark. And I think soon enough we're going to be at the point where sustainability is going to be really important from the ownership perspective when they want to flip a property. I think it's going to actually make a property more valuable because it'll be less expensive to operate on a day-to-day basis.

Kimberly: Right, right. It goes beyond that. I know a lot of owners are going to look at different programs that are out there that also give them that return. So of course it's the location as well.

Glenn: Well, you know, one thing I found interesting is I just recently learned that California, although it's been growing like crazy over the last 20 years, in terms of population, has not... actually using more energy than they did 20 years ago because of all of the different things that they've put in to make things more sustainable in the state.

Kimberly, are there certain things that you have to do now in a bathroom to make the person visiting the hotel room a happy person?

Kimberly: Oh, yes. I think it's in the amenities. I think it's in the amenities. Sometimes it's in the small things. I think we're at a point now where we are providing the nicer... the shower heads, and those things that we've kinda been pushing for a while. I think it's there right now, till we get to the next plateau. But I think they're looking for those nice, little small amenities that come with the room. And that could be in a lot of things, not just in the tangible. We're getting into ambient sound to be more relaxed. This is in your higher-end product of course. But it's in those little touches, I would say.

Glenn: I like the ambient sound. Because I know when I shower, I like whale calls in the background. That's always-

Mark: [talks over] Too much information. Okay. All right. Moving right along now.

Glenn: Taking me back to when I used to be part of the sea.

To bring it back to sustainability for a second with the shower heads, I really like a good strong shower head. And I found that the technology for them has really increased over a number of years. So, even though it's lower flow, it feels richer.

Kimberly: Oh, yeah. And then there's technology now where actually it's pushing out the water at a different rate, you know, which I appreciate, too, just as a woman, too, like, you know, with the hair and all that stuff.

It's very important because there's nothing worse than having to stay in there three times longer, you know, just to rinse out your hair. So there are products out there that are doing a much better job.

Glenn: Well, that's why I just don't wash my hair at all. It's a quick time-saver.

Kimberly: Just skip it all.

Glenn: But, hey, that's just me.

Kimberly: But now you can because the products are out there.

Glenn: And that's terrific. What about lighting in the bathroom? Because I'm happy to put myself together in the dark, but I'm not really focusing on makeup or anything like that?

Kimberly: Sure. And, especially, again, just for the women putting on their makeup, you'd always get that spotlight in the bathroom before, back in the day. And now there are a lot of options. And this has been around for a while. But the lighted mirrors and some overall lighting, the architectural lighting, the task lighting. I think people are more in tune now trying to achieve that standard

Mark: Yeah, it's nice to have that fancier mirror in the room. I love that. I mean, I'm not even doing makeup, and I just appreciate it, just shaving or whatever I need to do. It's perfect.

Glenn: So what's on your wish list for a bathroom these days?

Kimberly: Well, you know, I would say anything that makes me feel closer to a spa, I am there. That's what I'm going to look at.

Mark: I like that.

Kimberly: Yeah, if I have even just a small little slice of spa experience while I'm at a nice hotel and you're... You got away and, usually, for relaxation, even for business at the end of the day, I think in all different ways, that is a really nice thing to have. So I'm gonna look at different ways, from a designer's point of view, like, how to slip that in and that, of course, is in so many different things. But I'm gonna look for that touch of, like, that spa experience..

Mark: Yeah, I like that. Well put.

Glenn: Do you do that, like, through what? I don't know. What the sink looks like or, you know, how does that manifest itself in your vision?

Kimberly: Sure. So that's going to be in the lighting, absolutely. But the ambient music. I mean, all these things that can take you there.

I think when I look at bathrooms a lot,that is an area where I'm going to literally think "Go through the senses."

Mark: That's really cool. Yeah, that's cool.

Kimberly: And I'll say, "What can I do in this room to achieve smells and sounds? And all of those things. I'll just kinda play that through within the design.

Glenn: I like what you're saying with smell. And I know, Mark, you've had this experience before. And, no, I'm not making a funny joke right now. But I do think that smell has become a part of the hotel experience. And I feel like in the last five to seven years now, everybody has a signature scent in their property, right?

Mark: Yeah, it's a lot more popular in Vegas than anywhere else, I think. The minute you walk into the casinos, they have a special smell Every casino has one.

Glenn: I remember the first time I smelled Aria. I'm, like, "Oh, this is very distinctive."

Kimberly: Well, take it even into the mainstream, Doubletree, your cookie, when you come into the hotel, they have the cookie warmer that's behind the-

Mark: Yeah, it's their signature.

Kimberly: Exactly, it's their signature. When you walk in, it's, like, "Oh, you just... you know, like, "Oh, kinda, like, relaxing. I'm home." You know, kinda thing. So even with that, away from the bathroom. But I know that that's... you know, people have addressed that. So kinda neat, you know.

Mark: Yeah, it is nice. I had the pleasure of staying at a beautiful 4-star hotel on Tuesday night, and they had everything you were just talking about. They went to the nines with this bathroom. And it was kinda nice.

Glenn: When you're looking to create a design, where do you seek inspiration? And how do you bring that to life?

Kimberly: Oh, gosh. Well, you know, the answer for all designers is in everything, you know. But-

Glenn: Well, that's what I like to hear. I mean, I like to hear not, "Oh, I went to a hotel, and it inspired me." But what other elements in the universe do you see?

Kimberly: I always look at its location. That always inspires me. Where is this? What is the building? Is it an historic building? Is it not? Kind of those external things that are going to inspire my thought processes

I get really excited when I see a new product and see how that can influence everything. But those are a couple of bigger areas that, you know, I find inspiring, you know, when I'm thinking about or at least starting a product.

Glenn: Right. That's pretty cool. So we have HI Connect® Design 2014 coming up April 2-4, of course, at the Gaylord Opryland hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. And for those of you guys out there listening, if you want to learn more about it, go to hiconnectdesign.com and make sure you join us for this event 'cause it's gonna be great. We got Kimberly there. So, Kimberly, when you're thinking about putting this together, what are some of the messages that you want to get across?

Kimberly: Well, in doing the boutique bathroom, I think that's just... we can have some fun, just in the nature of boutique design and also in the vendors that, you know, I get to pair up with and what they have going on. Again, the innovative products, you know, what can we do together, you know, to make it come to fruition. This is my third year.

And so I'm excited about this year. I'm calling this one the "Urban Lodge Boutique Bathroom."

Mark: Love it. Love the sound of that.

Kimberly: And so we've got some great vendors signed up, and, without giving away anything it's going to be awesome. I'm looking forward to it.

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