Name: Lauren Cao
Company: Lang and Schwander
Position within company: Design Director
Tell us a little about your background in design (education, experience, etc)
I actually fell into the design work, when I first entered UC Berkeley I had intended on graduating with a Business Degree, but after opting to take an elective class, Intro to Architecture, I instantly fell in love and realized the challenge of creating good design was a rush I would always chase. After graduating from their Architecture program, I made my way to New York City where I worked for an additional 7 years, honing my craft on Retail and Hospitality Interior Architecture. Eventually I made the decision to relocate to Miami, where I cemented myself fully in Interior Design and became Design Director with Lang and Schwander.
How would you describe your personal interior design style? We are guided less by specific styles and more with a process. We work as a team to establish a logic behind the design decisions, so we aren’t just motivated by what looks good but also by the framework of the narrative. So many of our clients come from different backgrounds and locations, so its important for us to be adaptable and utilize different palettes and styles. It helps that we are also diverse, so we can come to the table with different perspectives. Design is communication at its core, so having a clear process or logic, instead of just an applied style, helps the end user understand the conversation.
Where does your design inspiration come from? We do a lot of research around the location of the site, understanding the history, the people, the culture, etc. When it comes to putting together those first images though, I like to listen to the local music. Music says so much about where it comes from, what people are like but also what they want to be. Design is like that – we never just replicate what is already there, but we analyse and understand what the location is looking to become.
In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense? If you were to ask that six months ago, I would have said design is moving towards spaces that foster opportunities of spontaneous connection within a larger community of strangers. Now I think it might become the opposite. People have been at home for a while now, and they are understanding the value of their immediate circle of family and friends, as well as having their own space to entertain, work and live. People are also taking up more hobbies, like cooking and carpentry. Therefore, I think we’ll start seeing a push back to larger guestrooms, bigger apartments, home-offices, larger kitchens and more private outdoor spaces. I think too we’ll see warm colors, home crafted items, and designs that inspire personal healing and wellbeing.
Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2020 and beyond. Sustainability, Significance, Individuality, Alternative Wellbeing and Strengthening Familial and Personal Bonds
If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to interior design schemes, what would it be? Don’t be too swayed by the immediate push to turn hospitality spaces into hospitals. Of course spaces should be clean, but Hotels now more than ever offer sanctuary for the traveller – a home away from home. More than anything Hospitality Spaces offers comfort, excitement, and unique experiences that are meant to improve one’s life. We as designers should be thinking of that in the long term, rather than focusing on only how easy it is to disinfect the vinyl chairs.
How important are The International Hotel & Property Awards as recognition of talent and achievement? The International Hotel & Property Awards hold value in the recognition of the community of our work. It is rewarding for us to know that something we have created is recognized by the public as a quality design. We are very thankful for the recognition and grateful to be a part of a globally recognized competition.
What projects are you currently working on? We have a few hotel projects underway, both in and around Florida and in the Caribbean. We have some smaller projects as well, such as a Steakhouse located in the developing Downtown Doral in Miami Florida. Its exciting and nerve-wracking to be designing work during the pandemic that will eventually be opened and used long after a virus is created. Its hard to predict what will be the right moves, but in a way its also exciting to have so many theoretical discussions regarding the future of design. So many more people are interested in the long term effects.
What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months? We’re looking into expanding more into the European market. We’ve been lucky enough to make an significant impact in the Caribbean, Latin America and the US, now we’re looking more across the water to see how we can fit in.
Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself and your daily inspirations:
Your most treasured possession? A pair of pearl earrings made for me by a dear mentor and friend.
Your favourite holiday destination? There is nothing better than Autumn in New York.
Your favourite hotel, restaurant & bar? Lenox Hotel in Boston, Trois Mec in LA and Jaguar Sun in Miami.
Your favourite book, film & song? Anything by Kurt Vonnegut, Vertigo, and Spirit in the Sky by Normal Greenbaum
Your favourite food and drink? Sourdough Bread and Olives, with a Negroni.
Your favourite way to spend an afternoon? Gardening in the sun.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be? A detective or Jazz Musician
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