The final portion of the Design Leadership Summit (DLS) talks were underway Thursday afternoon, November 7, at the Hearst Tower in New York City, and designers attending had a new topic to digest—new real estate developments and the intersection of residential and commercial design.
The afternoon kicked-off with a discussion presented by real estate developer William Rudin and his daughter, Samantha Rudin Earl. In discussing the current state of architecture and design in the city, they agreed that home buyers are looking for urban, sustainable, open-plan spaces.
The Rudins posited that NYC boroughs are becoming more like suburbs, and that people prefer to work closer to home and walk as much as possible. Thus, real estate developers are placing residential and commercial buildings closer together, and even creating buildings that mix residential and commercial, allowing people to live and work in the same building.
The largest project the Rudins are working on is Greenwich Lane, a multi-billion dollar development that consists of luxury apartments and townhouses with a multitude of amenities and common areas.
Samantha Rudin Earl
“From the beginning, we spoke of finding a master interior designer to plan the spaces. James Lancel at Corcoran said, ‘I know the person, but he won’t do it.’ Now, I am not interested in taking ‘no’ for an answer, and once seeing Thomas’ level of detail and the layers within his work, it became clear that Thomas O’Brien had to do it," said Rudin Earl.
O’Brien created a cohesive look for the five buildings, their lobbies and common spaces, plus the five townhouses as well as all of the amenities, blending traditional and modern design.
“Thomas O’Brien is a master. He found the beauty and the nuances of what the neighborhood’s history evokes and brought his talent to activate the old world charm of the existing façades while linking the old to the newer, more modern buildings,” said Rudin Earl.
The next panel, moderated by freelance writer and stylist Sara Ruffin Costello, included Elisa Orlanski of Corocan Sunshine, Roy Kim of Extell, David Wine of Oliver’s Realty and John Vanderslice of Hilton Worldwide, who expanded on the importance of interior designers in residential developments.
From left: Wine, Orlanski, Vanderslice, Kim and Costello
“We’re almost more interested in designers who have never done a condo project before,” said Orlanski. “They bring something new and fresh to the table and we’re interested in discovering them.”
“A building is about the entire package,” said Kim. “The architects and designers we choose are really important. It’s not about having a ‘starchitect,’ it’s about knowing what you want and who can do that for you.”
Wine explained that the needs of consumers are changing. Now people want Internet ready appliances in their kitchens and the best possible cell phone service in all spaces of their home. Of course, they also want location, view, amenities and great design.
Next, designers got a bit of a break from the business talk and had a “moment of inspiration” with London-based interior designer Nina Campbell.
Campbell chatted about her life in London, about her experiences in design and how she considers shopping her sport. She began her career with the legendary decorator John Flower, and her first job was to make tea. “My moment of inspiration was not to know how to make the tea,” she said.
When she brought Mr. Fowler the tea she attempted to make (which was milk and water since she didn’t let the tea stew), he said, “Dear child, never make tea again.”
“So, inspiration number one: Do menial jobs really badly and you will be promoted,” she said.
Her other key pieces of advice to designers were:
- Learn all the time and learn as much as you can.
- There’s always inspiration around you wherever you go. You don’t need to search for it.
- Remember that the client is the all-important person.
- Designers are there to curate clients’ style, not impose your own style on them.
Moving along with the commercial side of design, DLS co-host Peter Sallick invited founder and CEO of the SOHO House, Nick Jones, up for a discussion.
Nick Jones and Peter Sallick
Jones described the Soho House as a “private club for people with creative minds.” SOHO Houses are all over the world and they have a distinct look and feel, he explained. “You know you’re in one when you enter.”
The most important criteria for Jones and his in-house design team is: “A place has to have atmosphere with no one in it,” he said. “Then, when it’s filled with people it will have a fantastic atmosphere.”
The final discussion of the day tapped into restaurant design with Danny Meyer of the Union Square Hospitality Group and architect David Rockwell, who worked on several restaurant projects.
Meyer and Rockwell
Rockwell and Meyer first talked about Maialino, an Italian restaurant near Madison Square Park in New York city. “There are thousands of Roman Tratorias that have been done,” said Meyer. “It doesn’t always have to be something that’s never been done before.”
Rockwell placed the kitchen in the middle of the space and made the wine room visible, blurring the line between going out and eating at home.
Meyer compared restaurants to manufacturing plants, “The design has to be beautiful but most importantly it needs to work as a service,” he said.
“Tables and chairs and how you sit in a room are the building blocks to restaurant design,” he said. He’ll never use a chair that a woman can’t hang her purse on, or one that is too low or too high for the table.
With that, the eighth annual Design Leadership Summit commenced, champagne was passed, and guests toasted the co-hosts Sallick, Kate Kelly Smith, John Edelman, and all of the speakers who provided inspiration and education throughout the three-days.
From left: Edelman, Sallick, Smith
Check back for designer’s favorite moments of the DLS coming this week. Related articles: DLS Recap: Norman Foster and Paul Goldberger, DLS Recap: Innovations in technology and design, DLS Recap: Bunny Williams interviews Oscar de la Renta, DLS Part: Icons of art and culture, DLS Recap: Aby Rosen, Tom Sachs & William Georgis, DLS Recap: Marketing and media at Hearst Tower, DLS Recap: Arianna Huffington offers a new measure of success