Designer Profile: Christian Schnyder Principal & Founder of Beleco

Name: Christian Schnyder

Company: Beleco

Position within company: Principal & Founder


Tell us a little about your background in design (education, experience, etc)

I am native of Switzerland, who came to Los Angeles over 25 years ago to get my master’s degree in architecture from Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc).  Back in Switzerland I already had a certificate as a draftsperson and a bachelor’s degree in architecture.  As with many things in life, I found interior design by accident or it probably found me.  I was immediately drawn to hospitality and residential design.  It allowed me to create many custom elements, specific for each project.

How would you describe your personal interior design style?

In one word, it’s eclectic.  I for sure have a European if not to say Swiss sensibility of finding clean solutions for any design challenge.  There is also that common thread of creating inviting and feel good environments, and the use of colour, but I don’t have specific design vocabulary that’s applied to every project.  You don’t come to us because we have a look.  You come to us because we’ll find the right design for you and the project.

Where does your design inspiration come from?

The story of the project.  That can mean many things.  In hospitality it’s a combination of location, the hotel brand’s DNA and the buildings history (if it has one and is not a ground up project).  For residential projects it’s all about the clients.  We are the conduit to make their house their home. We are here to make it an expression of who they are.

In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?

Sustainability will become more and more a factor in the hospitality industry.  I feel that the guests expect the places they are staying and eating at to be more conscious about how they’re built, maintained and managed.  I also think that the sense of experience is not going away any time soon.  How can interiors contribute to a guest’s experience of a place?

Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2020 and beyond.

  • Sustainable
  • Experiential
  • Memorable
  • Comfortable
  • Inspirational

If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to interior design schemes, what would it be?

Find a strong concept at the beginning of each project and reference it for every design decision you are making.

How important are The International Hotel & Property Awards as recognition of talent and achievement?

This award is unique in its structure.  It’s not just a jury of a few people deciding or a quick popularity contest.  The concept that people have to spend some time to review all projects and make an informed decision gives the award a legitimacy that not many others have.  Our professional peers and design enthusiasts are the judges, which makes the award meaningful.

What projects are you currently working on?

Two boutique hotels in California and finishing the public areas of the JW Marriott project that is shortlisted for the 2020 awards.  Three restaurant projects and several residential projects.

What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?

Establishing an office in Switzerland is a goal.  It’s time to bring what I’ve learned to Europe and apply our expertise and approach to hospitality projects across the pond.

 Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself and your daily inspirations:

Your most treasured possession?

The cabin in the mountain.  It’s the perfect retreat from the hectic life in LA.

Your favourite holiday destination?

There is so much to explore, but I never get tired of Europe.

Your favourite hotel, restaurant & bar?

After all these years, The Puli hotel in Shanghai is still a benchmark of understated luxury and thoughtful design.  I am biased, but our Vol.39 bar/lounge in Chicago is a perfect balance of comfort, feeling special and experience.

Your favourite book, film & song?

There is something so powerful about listening to a symphony by Beethoven.  It’s classic, but inventive, sensitive and powerful.  It feels whole and complete… something I aspire to when designing.  As for books, I like it a bit surreal, like most novels from John Irving.  One of my all-time favorite movies is “Amadeus”.  It has it all… beauty, drama, fun, amazing score.

Your favourite food and drink?

A glass of rose and some fried potato (fries, chips, etc.) makes me happy.

Your favourite way to spend an afternoon?

Being on the deck of our cabin with my husband enjoying the peace and quiet of the mountains.

If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?

Probably a therapist.  Sometimes it feels that we designer help our clients work through issues.