Beleco Design is a firm with a variety of specialties. Their forte includes interior design, furniture design, brand identity and web design. At Beleco, they do it all, and exceptionally well at that. They recently won numerous awards for The Gray Hotel in Chicago, which narrates an account of elegance and wit through its design. According to their website, “at Beleco, we live to tell stories”. It becomes evident browsing through their portfolio online, that each project stands apart with an individual identity from the next. In the language of design, they take words of textures, patterns and furniture to tell a story on the walls, floors, and ceilings, a story that speaks volumes in warmth, grace and charm. Looking at the Hotel Monaco in Pittsburg, one can imagine that Alice can call it a home away from home in Wonderland. Spaceez got a chance to chat with Christian Schnyder, the Principal at Beleco.
Spaceez: Tell us about your firm and the firm’s overall design philosophy?
Beleco: We are fairly new small boutique firm, 5 years to be exact. We specialize in hospitality design, particularly hotels and restaurants in the upscale luxury sector. Our philosophy is “telling stories”. We don’t have a style per se. We look at the building, the program, and the client’s overarching behind the project and find the cleanest and most appropriate solution, be it modern or historically grounded, hence we are very eclectic.
Spaceez: Where do you draw your inspiration from? Is there a person or place you turn to for inspiration?
Beleco: There is always the unavoidable internet. Based on our client’s needs, we come up with keywords that support our design vision and help us tell the story. Truthfully, inspiration can come from anywhere.
Spaceez: In your opinion what makes your design firm stand out from other hospitality design firms?
Beleco: There are two things. Firstly, it is not a matter of ‘ego’. Every design has an opportunity to contribute to either the client, customers or guests. We are known to collaborate with architects, business owners and brands because they all are a part of the design dialogue. We believe in actively listening to the needs, which results in our designs being approved quickly. Secondly, we make sure our clients are well taken care of, we are always quick to respond to any concerns.
Spaceez: What is your favorite (hospitality) design project completed by your or any firm?
Beleco: Definitely The Gray Hotel, we have won 4 awards for it so far. We enjoyed working on the project a lot, it is one of our highlighted projects.
Spaceez: Are you currently working on anything exciting that you would like to share with us?
Beleco: We are working on the full renovation of the JW in Cherry Creek, Denver, which is in its design phase and we start construction at the end of 2018. We are also enthusiastic about some restaurants we are doing, a mix of small and interesting projects. When people think they have Beleco figured out, we are all geared up to throw them off.
Spaceez: What is your favorite design element that is essential in any project, e.g. colors, textures, furniture etc.
Beleco: There are three elements that are very close to me. The first one is lighting and we work with lighting designers to achieve the desired effect. The other two are texture and color pattern, depending on the project we choose one to create interest.
Spaceez: What trends have you noticed in hospitality design?
Beleco: We are currently in conversation with different brands and business owners about public areas. The lobby is becoming more than just a siting or waiting area. We are trying to activate the lobby space, so it starts becoming a source of energy and revenue. The lobby is to become the living area of the neighborhood, and we can bring in the local businesses resulting in remaking the purpose of that space. A lively lobby is always better than a deserted one. Another major focus is on wellness, in terms of fitness, hotels are also bringing in fitness equipment into the rooms.
Spaceez: What five words would you use to describe your firm?
Beleco: Mischievous, Spirited, Elegance, Wit, Community.
Spaceez: How much time do you dedicate to sourcing products and suppliers for the projects you work on?
Beleco: It depends on the project and its needs. We do have some selected suppliers, however I do believe in spreading the love. In other words, we don’t just stay with one supplier, we give other suppliers an opportunity also. We also take advise from our colleagues and other experts in the field.
Spaceez: What can we expect to see come out of design studio next?
Beleco: If you look at our website, it is mostly an upscale range. People are becoming aware that we are catering to the luxury market, however we do projects like Fried Chicken restaurants also. We are not snobbish about our work, if the project is fun and exciting, we will take it on board, be it high or low end.
In conversation with Christian, it became evident that he is a firm believer of teamwork, and that Beleco stands united with the hardwork of everyone, from the design team to the furniture makers. He gave an analogy of an Oscar award winner, who thanks his hairdresser in his acceptance speech, because without everyone playing their special role, he will not be where he is today. Christian and his team of designers are busy telling innovative stories in different cities all over the country.
Images courtesy of Beleco Design.