Nothing Like Home

Much more than a home away from home, hotels have historically offered travelers a designed environment as an immersive experience to transport the senses. Inspired by its current exhibition on hospitality design, "Designing the Luxury Hotel: Neal Prince and the Inter-Continental Brand,” on April 10, NYSID hosted a discussion, “Nothing Like Home, Designing The Hotel Experience,” with a panel of industry experts speaking on the evolution and current state of luxury hotel design.

Panelists spoke of their experience, classic projects, and the state of the industry today. The discussion began with hotel historian Stanley Turkel, who talked about legendary NYC hotels such as the Ansonia, the Algonquin, and the Pierre. Meghann Day of Hirsch Bedner Associates, brought us to the current day, sharing the firm’s recent projects abroad, with glamorous hotels in China, India, and the Middle East.  Anna Dufendach, associate designer at Champalimaud Design, wowed the audience with the firm’s elegant design solutions for famous hotels including the Waldorf Astoria, the Carlyle, and the Dorchester.

Todd Lee, founder and principal of Todd Lee Architects, talked about the classic projects he collaborated on with his mother, Sarah Tomerlin Lee, who worked on the restoration of the Willard Hotel (on view in the exhibition) and many others. And last but not least, Les Faulk (design director) and Debbie Grant (director of brand management) of InterContinental Hotels Group, talked about the ICH brand and recent projects, including the Barclay Hotel in New York. With such a range of projects and perspectives, the audience was rapt and the discussion was lively!

"Designing the Luxury Hotel: Neal Prince and the Inter-Continental Brand” is on view until April 26 and explores Prince’s celebrated design for the revered Inter-Continental luxury hotels from 1960s through the 1980s. Any fan of Mad Men will undoubtedly love the vintage advertising photographs of swanky hotel interiors and glamorous guests. It also becomes clear that the design influence and the allure of distant cultures to the new jet-set society strongly influenced a more global taste and attitude, reflected in the home interiors, furnishings and fashion of that Mad Men era.


NYSID Gallery, 161 East 69th Street, NYC. Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 6pm.

Phyllis Greer