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HI Connect® Designer Spotlight - KS Design Studio

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

Wednesday, March 26, 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. 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 and Mark Viola speak with Kristine Smith of KS Design Studio who are creating a Timeshare Suite during the three days of HI Connect® Design.

Glenn: When did you first realize that design was the way your life is going to go?

Kristine: Well, pretty early on – probably college I would say. I was always interested in the arts and decided if I wanted to make a living I should probably do something besides fine art. So fashion was out, because I didn't draw figures very well. So I sort of steered towards interior design and never looked back.

Glenn: So you can't draw figures, but you can do interior design. Now I can’t do either, so I assume they're both equally difficult. How are you able to do one and not the other?

Kristine: Just luck I suppose. I don't know.

Glenn: We’re going to say good genes, and you've got lots of them in your family, as we were talking about beforehand. All right, so tell us a little bit about what was your first experience with design like? Did you just start sketching ideas at home, or what happened? What was that big epiphany moment for you?

Kristine: Well, UCLA was my educational experience, and I just feel like I got a great background in conceptual design. And right out of school I went to work for an architectural firm, William Pereira in Los Angeles. And they had a division of their interiors department that specialized in resort hotels. I had my first taste of hospitality and never looked back.

Glenn: I totally understand that, Mark, right? This is a great business.

Mark: Yeah, we feel the same way. I'm hooked. The minute I got into it I was hooked.

Glenn: Right, so you couldn’t have obviously just gone into timeshare right away. So what was your path that led to their?

Kristine: No, my background has really been in the hospitality. And I worked primarily for smaller ownerships. I've done some big chain work for Hyatt and Hilton. But I seem to have found my niche with individual property owners, small groups here in San Diego. Evans hotels – they own The Lodge at Torrey Pines, The Bahai, and Catamaran. I've done work for them for over 20 years. So that's kind of been my niche in terms of hospitality. I did some work for Disney over the years, and that was my first exposure to the timeshare.

Glenn: Interesting. So you were working with the Disney Vacation Club then.

Kristine: Correct.

Glenn: Which properties did you have an active role in?

Kristine: Anaheim, the Grand Californian.

Mark: I love that place.

Kristine: Their first project on the West Coast.

Mark: That's the best – love that place.

Glenn: Now, to fill the listeners in a little bit. When Disneyland went through a massive expansion to add the California Adventure Park, they added that hotel with the timeshare components, which was so successful they've since expanded it, as a matter of fact.

Kristine: Well, the timeshare component actually was an addition that took place about five years ago. They built the timeshares and then some additional guestrooms.

Glenn: All right, so you're thinking about timeshare. You do this timeshare design. What have you seen change in timeshare design from the time you first got into business until now?

Kristine: Well, it's like the hospitality market. You continue to evolve based on what your guests’ expectation is. And guests are becoming more and more sophisticated all the time, and they're more demanding. So I think the industry is constantly trying to keep up and meet the guests’ expectations.

Glenn: I recall when I was a kid timeshare seemed very, very basic. It almost seemed very much like a blah apartment, right. It didn't really have any furnishings or fixtures that really resonated with me as a person. Maybe I was eight years old and I had no taste. Now I'm in my 40s and I have no taste.

Mark: That's for sure.

Glenn: But at the same time – thank you, Mark – at the same time I see that it's really elevated. And some of the timeshare properties I've had the opportunity to stay in are very, very different today. So how do you see it?

Kristine: Well, I think it's important – whether it's a hospitality project or timeshare project – to create a sense of place … I mean to not create the same environment in Bali that you would create in Chicago, to draw on the local culture, the local art, the attributes of a given area, and let that play a role in the design. I've always been a proponent of giving a project a sense of place.

Glenn: Right, and you know, Mark. You agree with that, right?

Mark: Absolutely. Going back to your Disney project, the Grand Californian, I think Disney does the best as far as the extended-stay goes, as far as the vacation ownership goes. Their famous slogan is, “It's your home away from home.”

Kristine: Welcome home.

Mark: Yeah, welcome home. It really feels that way. They do such a great job of that, so kudos to you. Nice job.

Kristine: And their properties all typically have a theme.

Glenn: Yep, they all do.

Kristine: And I've found that I work best when I have something like that to draw from, whether it's … we did some theme suites for Disney at the Disneyland Hotel – so Big Thunder Mountain. When you have a theme in you tend to have something that helps you answer the questions and solve the problems. You're not just picking things because maybe they're nice, or they’re new, or they're pretty. You’re making decisions based on the theme.

Mark: Exactly, yeah.

Kristine: So whether it's an architectural style or a location, a destination, it gives you sort of a sense of purpose.

Glenn: I like the idea of theming, but I feel like we've gone through this cycle where we had really, really hyper theming, and now it's kind of been toned down a lot. You see that playing out in places like Las Vegas. And I do see that in Disney – a little bit lighter touch from time to time. So where is that happy medium for you?

Mark: I've got to say I think it depends on the location as far as if it needs to be themed.

Kristine: I agree.

Mark: I don't think it's toned down at all. I think if you're going to Disney it's going to be themed, but Vegas maybe not so much, or LA maybe not so much. So it depends. But if you're in Orlando, of course you're going to get themed hotels.

Kristine: Right, and the grand Californian was an architectural theme. I mean it was the arts and crafts era that created the … much like the Lodge at Torrey Pines. Those two properties – it's kind of interesting – they sort of came up out of the ground around the same time. So it was an interesting perspective because I was working on the Lodge and we actually toured the Grand Californian as it was under construction.

Mark: Yeah, they did a great job.

Kristine: You know, all their fiberglass beams at the Lodge at Torrey Pines … ours are real word. I'm just saying. There's no snob appeal.

Glenn: No, it was not the cheaply made building. That's for sure.

Kristine: No, but it's just the whole Disney magic type of mentality.

Glenn: Yeah, it's really fantastic. And Disney timeshare continues to be so strong. They're just completing the property right now. Aulani is beautiful, but I was staying at the hotel created to look like the Hotel del Coronado where we're looking at, the Grand Floridian.

Kristine: The Grand Floridian, yes.

Glenn: And they've just broken ground on Polynesian resort ones as well. So lots more timeshare to come. But timeshare is great and all, but I want to know where you get inspiration from. Where do you figure it out? Is it from other hotels or is it just walking down the street and seeing something?

Kristine: Well, I'm a big believer in form follows function. Nothing irritates me more and then something that's a great design but it doesn't function well. But like I say, I really work best when there's something that sort of is at the core of the project and sort of leads you to making design decisions along the way.

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.

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® Designto 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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