Award-winning hospitality designer and architect Gonzalo Bustamante has launched Gonzalo Bustamante Design Works (GBDW), a new multi-disciplinary design studio in Manhattan, where he has assembled a team of top creative talent including architects, graphic and interior designers to develop highly conceptual, innovative environments and experiential designs.
The studio’s core design principles and inspiration are rooted in the natural world, fashion, music and art. With each project the studio seeks to evoke emotionally powerful story telling, an immersive experience, and a unique sense of craft and wonder.
Bustamante spoke with this reporter about his new venture and his plans for the future.
EAL: Why did you transition from an interior design firm to a multi-disciplinary practice, and how did you go about it?
GB: Actually, I wouldn't define it as a "transition" into a multi-disciplinary practice, but rather with my past interior design work and experience, I have always felt drawn to participate and drive unique solutions from architecture to custom furniture, products, graphics, video content and lighting.
In a past restaurant project, for example, I directed the video content of butterflies and divers all delicately choreographed and projected over a stone waterfall. When the complete story is told through 'one conceptual voice,' I feel clients and their projects benefit tremendously. With my new design firm, I want to make sure that clients understand the benefit of developing complete stories. Since we work in the world of hospitality, this design vision becomes paramount to being distinctive and staying competitive as a business model.
EAL: What types of projects will you be working on in the new studio vs. what you were doing previously?
GB: With the new studio at GBDW, I've enjoyed a start to product design with the recently launched Arborite INK collection of digitally printed high-pressure laminates. I aim to continue on that trajectory and work on more product design initiatives moving forward.
I plan on moving into the resort market in expanding areas such as the Caribbean and Latin America where my original roots are from. I am really excited to dive head first into the resort and hospitality market in Mexico, the Caribbean, Brazil and Chile.
EAL: Any exciting projects currently in the works?
GB: We are working diligently on a project with a cause: a South American-inspired eatery in Manhattan's South Street Seaport, a neighborhood that was extremely damaged by Sandy. It has been closed since and the owners, along with their whole section of the neighborhood, are very eager to reopen.
The area is being redeveloped and re-imagined, and I like to be a part of that small fiber of the history and urban fabric of Manhattan. The neighborhood has tremendous historic significance and so much potential. I am hopeful that the new South Street Seaport will not be another tourist destination, but a real local hang out as it was in the early history of Manhattan. Exciting!
EAL: Describe your dream project.
GB: Off the top of my head? I would love to have a hand in Apple or Google's next offices, since they're really paving the way for huge cultural shifts around the world. They are helping to redefine the way we work. A Museum OR even the interiors of the future Mars space station, I think would provide an opportunity to get really imaginative.
EAL: What haven't you done that you'd like to do?
GB: I studied architecture at Pratt, and have spent the majority of my career designing interiors. It would be great eventually to go full circle and add a true architectural studio to my practice. But for the short term, and on a personal note, I'd like to start a family.