The Design and Operator Panel

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In order to ramp Impression up a gear this year, we decided it would be fitting to get both the A&D and the operator community to pose and answer a series of key questions. We asked operators what is was that they most wanted to know about the way design projects unfold to help them further understand the process. Three key questions emerged. Impression will address each question, one at a time, across the 2018 issues by asking a panel of designers to share their thoughts. 

‘Fortunately, we’ve been doing this for quite a few years, and so we have a great network of design ninjas we can call on when needed. We assemble teams based on considerations pertaining to region, comprehension of our concepts and desired complexities and quality, passion and, ultimately, the pride they take in their work, of course. Being a team player may sound like a cliché (ok, it’s a major cliché), but it’s also so important to be able to leave ego aside and just get the job done well. Everyone benefits when all engines are well-oiled and working together seamlessly to create something special.’– Kristina O’Neal, Principal, AvroKO

‘Initially, it depends on the scale, complexity and commercial parameters of the project. We appoint a senior lead project designer and then develop the wider team depending on the relevant experience and skills required. The lead designer, alongside a director, will structure and programme the design process, be client facing and manage the wider team. We try and keep the team together during the full duration of the design and build process to ensure continuity. Beyond the Macaulay Sinclair team, there is usually a client appointed project manager, quantity surveyor and various other external technical consultants. We prefer to work with consultants we have worked with before and often bring in people we know.’- Mike Sinclair & John Macaulay, Directors, Macaulay Sinclair

‘On most projects, at a high level, you need a fairly similar team in place; an architect or project manager, structural engineer and services engineer at the very least. On more complex projects, however, there are hundreds of different consultants and surveyors that may be required, depending on the scale, complexity and location of the project; many of which are very hard to come by, especially if you haven’t worked with such a specialist before. The process of searching, vetting and assembling those specialists is a skill in itself. That’s why networking (online or in person), showcasing projects and sharing success stories is so important – not only to connect you to the specialists you might need one day, but also to spur innovation.’- Harry Molyneux, CEO & Founder, the Buildupp network

‘We have a dedicated hospitality team, who have over a decade of direct experience working with both private and leading brand operators. Our role as designers requires satisfying both the client, with high design aspirations, and the operator’s functional needs. We can design the most beautiful environment – but if it doesn’t work operationally, it’s an immediate fail.’ – Katie Edgar, Associate, leisure team, SpaceInvader


‘I remember walking around what would become The Principal Manchester with Barry Sternlicht, Chairman and CEO of Starwood Capital Group – we were mid-refurbishment, and he said the restoration project was all about ‘enhancing the English[ness]’ and creating a UK hospitality brand with heritage at its heart. That starts with a portfolio of incredible buildings that are rich in history and our job, collectively, is to breathe new life into them. For the design teams, that’s about combining original features (many of them listed) with all of the comforts and conveniences that guests expect in a modern hotel, and about bringing a modern sensibility to bear so that the interiors feel relevant and appealing. We have a small, brilliant internal design team, who mould and manage the design process with the external interior designers and architects with whom they work.’ – Simon Willis, Brand Director, PRINCIPAL

‘Forging a good working relationship is important. The design team must be able to understand the vision too, and then creatively bring that vision to reality in a way that reflects the personality of both the Duchess and the Devonshire corporate brand.

The Devonshire portfolio of property is diverse; therefore, designers should have the ability to interpret and deliver the brief in such a way that applies our brand ethos, yet retains the individuality of each property.’  – Adam Dyke, General Manager, The Devonshire Arms Hotel & Spa

‘It’s important to be really clear on red lines in the inevitable value engineering meeting, where everyone sits down with a costed version of design proposals for the first time. The mark of a good design team is that they know what red lines must be adhered to in order to hit the right level of design standards and brand authenticity.’ – Guy Nixon, Founder and CEO, Go Native

‘My advice would be to not be afraid to take risks. A brand image is dynamic and evolves over time. As a designer, your ideas should reflect the core values and personality of a brand, but create the experience which sets it apart for guests. An interior has to deliver a sense of place. That intangible feeling, which sets it apart from the rest. Hotels must also reflect locality. Ensuring the functionality and efficiency of space may be part of the brand experience, but not at the expense of an interior that could be anywhere on the planet. From the warmth of the welcome to the colours and materials selected, the brand experience must be as emotional as it is expected to be efficient.’ – Martin Winch, Owner, Church Lodge, Birdham