Established in 1992, BNO has been creating a mark with its whimsical design solutions using furniture, lighting and color. Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz, as principal creates an environment of wonder and humor to tell stories reflected through clean lines and simple patterns. The cover of their website, the interior design of Mondrian SOHO; echoes fantasy and displays inspiration that comes from Jean Cocteau’s 1946 French film, La Belle et la Bete (Beauty and the Beast).
Benjamin uses classical architecture vocabulary, he designs spaces with modern twists and plots. An artist at heart and growing up in Preto Rico is evident in his design philosophy. His love for bringing the outside in, by using large openings and clearing the paths for natural light. However, the passion for light does not end at sundown, his forte also includes custom designed and almost sculpture-like lighting. These pieces carry a sense of style that not only brings unique design elements together, but also become a statement piece in their rooms. Presenting, Spaceez in conversation with Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz.
Spaceez: Tell us about your firm, and the firm’s overall design philosophy?
BNO: I believe that interiors should be considered art, or walk-in still life if you will. My approach to design is based on classic order but with a modern sensibility. Therefore, alignments, vistas, symmetery. All this is worked out in the beginning along with the brand’s standards for a hotel or the client’s needs for residential.
Spaceez: Where do you draw your inspiration from? Is there a particular person or place you turn to for inspiration?
BNO: Inspiration can come from anywhere. Location, client, movies, mythology, fantasy, poetry, even fashion can help in the development of a design concept.
Spaceez: In your opinion what makes your design firm stand out from other hospitality design firms?
BNO: We really handle any kind of hotel project. Being a small firm, we specialize in creating very strong design concepts, that are often used in marketing strategies from the very beginning. We always pair ourselves with a larger architectural firm to help us produce a project. Our design is always very poetic and extremely marketable; therefore, we offer a beautiful story which makes the project unique. We tend to prefer working on projects in which we can use our design philosophy effectively.
Spaceez: What is your favorite (hospitality) design project completed by your or any firm?
BNO: We have only completed a few of them, and all of them are my favorite. Mondrian LA, Mondrian Soho, and Mondrian Scottsdale are the most magical, closely followed by Mondrian BahaMar which recently opened re-branded at SLS BahaMar.
Spaceez: Are you currently working on anything exciting that you would like to share with us?
BNO: Most of our projects are residential right now, however we have one large condominium projects originally built in 1951 in DC, with the Architectural firm of Perkins Eastman, for which we are defining the brand, the look and the story, which is exactly our forte.
Spaceez: What is your favorite design element that is essential in any project, e.g. colors, textures, furniture etc.
BNO: In our design, color and therefore lighting are the most crucial elements. I also enjoy designing furniture to have a unique expression, however that is the last thing I do.
Spaceez: What trends have you noticed in hospitality design?
BNO: I tend to follow on trends because I like to stay open to new and inventive solutions. I love convenient solutions, such as outlets to charge my phone everywhere, also interesting places to hang out other than sofas and chairs.
Spaceez: What five words would you use to describe your firm?
BNO: Bespoke, Whimsical, Artistic, Classical and Modern.
paceez: How much time do you dedicate to sourcing products and suppliers for the projects you work on?
BNO: I am searching all the time, every day of the week. My Pinterest postings are endless and I have over 8,000 pictures in my phone.
Spaceez: What can we expect to see come out of design studio next?
BNO: We are working on products, such as lighting and fashion. Anyone following my istagram account @noriegaortiz will always have a peak at what’s now and next.
All images courtesy of Morgans Hotel Group.