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HI Connect® Designer Spotlight - Cauhaus Design

Today we speak with Rob Laschever and Toby Schermerhorn of Cauhaus Design, as part of our series focusing on the hospitality designers, architects and purchasing pros participating in HI Connect® Design 2014.

Thursday, March 20, 2014
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HI Connect® Design
HI Connect® Design
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. 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.

Act now to be a part of this game changing 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. Or call 631-424-7755 x150 for an immediate response.

For today’s interview, Editor-In-Chief Glenn Haussman speaks Rob Laschever and Toby Schermerhorn of Cauhaus Design who are creating a special guestroom during the three days of HI Connect® Design.

Glenn: It’s really good to catch up with you. Now you guys are a little fun. You’re a little kooky. And last year I loved what you did at the event. And I think, Toby, you had the coolest pair of boots I’ve ever seen at an event.

Toby: I had to get a pair of white moon boots because I wasn’t gonna wear heels. It was too uncomfortable. And so I kind of got these really comfy shoes in the pretense that they actually fit my booth.

Glenn: And they totally fit your booth. And I really loved it. You know, last year (the theme-ing?) was different. It was interesting. It was new. And really we’re pushing the envelope of what design could be. So what my immediate thought to you guys is: What do you see in the traditional state of hotel design and where would you like to see the industry go when it comes to creating really engaging types of rooms?

Rob: Well, I can respond to that in part by saying that where we would like to see the industry going, the industry is going. You know, clearly hospitality is becoming a very competitive place and I think guests are expecting a lot more. And unlike the sort of tradition of old, where it was kind of a comfortable residential familiar feel, I think a lot of people treat them as kind of mini vacations and they want a little bit more resort atmosphere, something a little different, something a little unusual.

Toby: A little more experiential.

Rob: A little more experiential. You know, I think people are expecting the food to be a little bit better, drinks to be a little more interesting. There’s almost nothing that we do in a hotel that isn’t being looked at and considered and getting great reactions from guests. You know, the type of dishes, the uniforms and everything. So our way has always been to sort of keep our eyes out there on the horizon to see what unique set of environments and design we can bring into our work.

Of course HI Connect® is the absolute perfect place to do this. It is absolutely a wonderful open-ended beautiful setup for people like us to go experimenting a little bit, trying things out a little bit that maybe we haven’t been able to before. So to categorize it simply is not that easy, but to say that we are looking for new methods of setting up rooms and spaces, new relationships. And of course this responds clearly to the kinds of trends that are out there as far as people using laptops and iPads and iPhones. And technology is allowing them to do their business and do their work and do their socialization in different places, different ways.

So all these things kind of get put together and taken into consideration and we have to express it somehow. So, again, HI is the perfect place for us to bring our kind of thoughts and our wares and, as you say, those edges that are on the fringe, bring them to life and see what people think.

Toby: There’s really no reason for us to be rehashing the same old guest room. I mean when you spend money to go to a hotel you kind of want an experience. Otherwise you just stay home. I mean, unless you have to travel. And so we think it’s kind of nice. I mean, you’re only there for maybe a couple of days. Why not try something new? You know, it’s like trying new food. It’s trying a new guest room experience. And so we’re all about that.

Glenn: And that’s what I liked about what you guys did last year. It was very focused in something that was like ultra modern and I recall it just being pretty much white on white with some more thrown in. Right? Was that-, that was kind of the theme?

Toby: Well, the white was really just-, it really was because we didn’t want the color to distract from the shapes. It was really more about the shapes than it was about the white. And almost everybody talked about it as being “the white space,” which is in fact correct. But it was really about the circulation and the way the room was set up.

Rob, if you want to speak to that.

Rob: You know, there’s a very kind of simple explanation. It’s something that we kind of learned about in school and whatnot. If you will, I mean, there are probably a number of different ways to set up any given space but there are three primary ways that I kind of think of. One is that you have a room. It’s a box. You put a bunch of furniture in there. You call it a day. Another one is you have a room. It’s a box. It has walls or whatnot. And you sort of build in everything into the walls, where everything is kind of related to, built into, comes out of, pops off the walls. The third way is essentially what we did, is a room within a room.

So we were trying to kind of create a sort of floating oasis, a kind of space within the space. In that way the room remains simple, calm, clean and in fact kind of thinking of it in terms of something that’s efficient and economical. Because, in fact, there is not fancy built in stuff, there is no engaging of walls. There is none of that kind of coordination. It’s just a thing that almost could’ve been, and really was, built offsite, delivered, bolted down and you walk away and you’re done.

So it really was a very specific kind of concept and approach that we took to that room: The white on white and some of the effects of mid-Century modern influence, Japanese influence, those types of things. In some ways I think once you lay it out, once you plan it, once you start to look at the pieces, those kinds of things just-, it’s sort of our-, our interpretation of what we’re starting to see come together and even to the fact that our TV was playing 2001 A Space Odyssey, you just start to feel all these pieces coming together and it tells you in some ways what it wants to be. And for us it just wanted to be clean, modern, futuristic. And we like the way it came together I think.

Toby: I mean, I think we loved it. It became kind of an object. And it was very much almost like an art museum. And we got a lot of comments from people who just thought it was the coolest thing and they wanted it to be their hip pad. I kept thinking of it, it was a-, as a great opportunity for a place like Vegas or Miami, or Japan, or just a really fabulous suite where you want to blow somebody away. You want to knock their socks off when they walk in. It’s totally unexpected.

Glenn: And I love what you do. And I love why you did that, guys. Because I think you’re really expanding the design dialogue here. We talked a lot here today, as well as together in the past, about how hotels have gone to that more residential approach. But you’re taking that now to the next level. You’re giving them something they can’t necessarily experience at home. Because while an idea like that is really cool to go and experience for a few days, it’s not something that people are readily gonna think about putting in their house in the middle of the country. Right?

Toby: That’s correct. I would, but most people would not. And there were a few people there that really were willing to buy that “off-the-rack.”

Rob: Yeah. You know, part of what-, you know, and again, HI just offers the just perfect opportunity, again, for people like us, is that, you know, when-, as a designer, when you’re designing something, you know, sometimes you get an idea, something pops in your head, you see something, you respond to it, whatever, but sometimes you need to try and test out the opposite of what you think may actually work.

You know, we get sort of pinned down, sometimes even, you know, you get into a routine of things and you’re-, you know, you have success with something and you go, “Okay. Let’s just repeat that. Let’s do that again.” But then there are these moments where I think you really just need to come out of yourself and say, “You know something? I’m gonna try something…” You know, and I’ll call it, “…ridiculous or just out there, to see what that makes me think and feel, to really, you know, reinforce, again concepts.

And I think you have it exactly right, Glen, when you called it the beginning of a dialogue. And that’s absolutely the key there, is let’s start a discussion, “Why wouldn’t you do that?” or “Where could this lead us?” You know, “What are the other possibilities?”

You know, inevitably throughout history-, see, you knew I’d tie history into this somehow, didn’t you?

Toby: Exactly. Well, I assuming about the German modernists when a lot-, they had a lot of their displays. And the furniture displays, they really were much more experimentations. And I think we’ve kind of lost that. You know, we now have a lot of these shows where basically it’s people are just doing sells, and what is standard and what is expected. And it’s really be-, it’s lost the opportunity to become sort of a dialogue. You know, an exchange of ideas.

Rob: Well, you know, throughout history, you know, you can take almost any great invention, the phone, the car, the computer, you know, in the beginning people hate it. They go, “Oh, my God. Why are you thinking about that? Why are you doing that?” Inevitably people get used to it. It starts a dialogue. And you start to say, “Wait a minute. Maybe that’s not so crazy. Maybe we could do this, do that, whatever.”

Glenn: I can tell you I used to hate the idea of having like Wi-Fi in airplanes but now it’s something I can’t live without. It’s the same thing with, I think, you know, having a computer basically in the palm of your hand with these smart phones. We weren’t very interested in it at first but now you can’t really seem to live without it. Right?

Rob: Absolutely.

Toby: That’s correct. It’s true.

Rob: So, and, you know, which brings up a whole ‘nother great area where really the design in hotels, you really can no longer, you know, not only not ignore, but you-, we have to absolutely bring technology into the room. You know, that is in many ways what the sort of future effect of design is gonna be. The influence of computers, of televisions, of laptop, of information, transferring of social media, they’re a huge influence obviously on everyone’s lives, and on design. You know, just the way-, you know, phones probably changed the way houses were even laid out to some degree. And, you know, where does somebody want to sit with a phone, have a conversation. We need a quieter spot, whatever it is. Technology is just playing a huge role in everything these days.

And, you know, as such, for instance, I mean, our vignette this year has some wonderful technology. Am I supposed to mention manufacturer? I’m not-, or I’m not?

Glenn: You could do whatever you want. You can mention a manufacturer. But let me key this up for you so people could get an understanding of what we’re doing here. Now, for those of you listening I don’t really want to sh-, take too much about what you can expect. But Cauhaus and Rob and Toby here are going to be doing a Hollywood theme with a bit of a sexy edge to it. So how does the technology play into that, Rob?

Rob: Well, again, you know, as we are sort of developing the design and our concept and we’re starting to realize that stylistically and look-wise we have this kind of very elegant, upscale, slightly sexy-, you know, it just-, both of us start to think about like Hollywood and the 30s, kind of the glamour days. You know, the wonder days of high style and high dress and that sort of thing.

Well, when it started to seem like it was becoming kind of a, you know, viewing room, casting couch, the media instantly became a really big deal. Like being able to watch, you know, incredible classic movies on an old screen, or you’re-, or, honestly, again, you’re a director and you’re watching first cut of your new movie or whatever it is. So we realized that, you know, the television, the media, the sight and sound, was a big, big part. And I’ve got to tell you, we have an unbelievable manufacturer teamed up with us that we’re incredibly excited about.

Glenn: Great. And you guys are gonna have to come out and see-, take a look at this and experience it yourself. And you guys are continuing to push the edge I think on what it means to be a design company in the hospitality industry. And that’s what I like about you guys. You’re challenging people to think differently. And I don’t think we have enough of that in this industry.

I know you were saying something about that earlier but everything is winding-, winds up being the same old, same old. I mean, we had this big boom with lifestyle hotels in the industry but now every hotel looks kind of like a lifestyle hotel. So you guys are taking it to another degree. Right?

Rob: Absolutely. You know, I would have to say that it’s probably not the greatest thing in the world if everyone was doing what we did, and certainly that’s probably not even feasible, but there’s got to be some people out there, you know, like us. And there, you know, some surely that kind of push things a little bit.

You know, hey, I’ll tell you, we have to come back to earth once in awhile ourselves with some real projects, and love to do it. But, you know, having gone out there, having seen what’s out there, I think we can bring back something a little fresher, and hopefully practical and affordable, I would say. But, yeah, we love what we do and again, we’ve always said that for us work is play and play is work.

Glenn: Great. I think that’s absolutely perfect. Alright. Some final words before we get going. Toby, want to wrap it up?

Rob: I would say that everyone needs to come out and see this to believe it. It’s a great show and we’re very excited to be there for our third year. And there are some just amazing names and players. And I think the party is just beginning and it’s growing bigger and better. And we’re very excited about it.

Act now to be a part of this game changing 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. Or call 631-424-7755 x150 for an immediate response.

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