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Only the Best

By Judi Ketteler

Judges at the 2004 IIDA Hospitality Design Product Awards chose designs that reached beyond their respective categories and focused on innovation in the hospitality market as a whole. The award-winning products represent designs in tune with a hospitality market that’s becoming more and more about creating a unique experience for customers.

BEST OF COMPETITION

DaisyCake Chain Curtains, Daisycake.com Inc.
When Neil Morrow, President of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Daisycake.com Inc., envisioned the specialty accessory curtain he wanted to create, one thing came to mind: aluminum chain. “Chain is the most analog of products,” he says. Originally a symbol of strength during the industrial revolution, it eventually took on a new meaning. “Workers were told to break their chains,” he says. Now, the image of a chain link has a distinct connection to the information age. “A link of chain is a pixel of information,” Morrow says. It was that historical thread that served as Morrow’s main inspiration.

Though Morrow has been in the textile industry since the early 1970s, the DaisyCake Chain Curtain was his first foray into the commercial world. “I became interested in chain as a textile element — specifically the way it creates space, as opposed to dividing it,” he says.

The chain curtain, which comes anodized in 15 pigments and can hold any design, has applications for restaurants and bars, lobby spaces, stages and runways. Morrow even created a piece for this year’s Academy Awards: a huge chain bearing the image of an Oscar that opened and closed to reveal presenters.


Primarily, the art-inspired chain curtain acts as a mural, or a colorful backdrop for a space. But it’s also two-dimensional. People can experience it, touch it and walk through it. Soft and supple, it moves and breathes, and it grabs attention. “People are drawn to it. It makes them laugh; it makes them happy,” Morrow says. “And you want happy customers.”

What’s more, because the links are made from aluminum, they are 100 percent recyclable. Morrow became interested in creating sustainable, visually interesting products after attending a sustainable products training program in 2002. “I think that fashion will drive the sustainable movement. Designers are taking up the challenge,” he says.

WINNERS: APPLIED FINISHES

Beadazzled, by Maya Romanoff Corp.
The first-ever flexible glass-bead wall covering, Beadazzled originally was developed for Victoria’s Secret. Though the product uses a high-tech adhesive to attach its clear glass beads to a non-woven wall covering, it is completely handmade. Its flexibility makes it innovative: It can be wrapped around columns and cases, adhered to ceilings, die cut and the wall covering comes in multiple colors. It’s a popular wall covering for hotel powder rooms and columns, and it’s currently showcased on tabletops at Las Vegas’ Bellagio hotel. “It offers limitless creativity,” says Laura Romanoff, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for The Maya Romanoff Corp., based in Chicago.

Its flexibility also means it will change the way designers envision the function of high-end wall coverings. It makes a great substitute for a red carpet, says Romanoff, or for a tabletop. It’s about catching a customer’s eye: “There are no more limits as to where you can add extra sparkle.”

Faux-Marble Finish Glass, Studio G3 Glass
Glass artist Naser Niki, co-owner of Studio G3 Glass in British Columbia, Canada, paints every single piece of Faux-Marble Finish Glass by hand. A love of composition and color in art and photography serves as the major inspiration for his designs. “Because it’s made piece by piece, each design is random,” says Niki.

The glass, which takes on the look of marble, has been specified by hotels, spas and restaurants for countertops, bartops and tabletops. In a world of mass-produced glass products, the faux-marble glass makes an unmistakable artistic statement that could influence what types of accent pieces designers and builder/owners specify, especially in areas like Japan, where the market is flooded with heavily manufactured products imported from China.

WINNER: SPECIALTIES/HARDWARE

The Rocky Mountain Hardware Collection, Rocky Mountain Hardware
Rocky Mountain’s high-end line of bronze door hardware provides a cutting-edge backdrop for key card door locks. In a world where most hotels’ key card locks are designed strictly for functionality, Rocky Mountain found a way to introduce style with its custom bronze lever, knob and backplate. “This opens up lots of new opportunities for designers and architects,” says Patsy Nickum, co-owner of Rocky Mountain Hardware in Sun Valley, Idaho. Rocky Mountain offers five standard escutcheons, 28 different levers and varieties of knobs, two different bronzes and seven patinas to create dozens of unique looks. Bronze also lends itself to many different architectural styles, Nickum says, from rustic to Mediterranean to contemporary. “Bronze just has that texture — it fits in well anywhere,” she says.

WINNERS: FLOORING

Ever Technology, Milliken Carpet
High-definition television (HDTV) can be likened to Milliken Carpet’s newest carpet patterning technology, says Tracy Francis, Marketing Manager for LaGrange, Ga.-based Milliken Carpet. “We wanted to bring designs to life with greater clarity than ever,” she says. “The same way that HDTV brings a picture to life.”

In the hospitality arena, Milliken’s proprietary system has applications for casinos, restaurants and hotels that want their flooring to make a statement. The emphasis on digital technology to produce increased clarity in color and picture signals a new trend in visual expectations for the design of public spaces. In addition to placing logos on the carpet, Milliken can use the patterning technology to create custom flooring from a sketch or picture. “It looks like a painting,” Francis says. Mosaic tile and leaves, grass and stones have been some of the more popular designs. “It just goes to show that what people only imagined before is possible now,” she says.

Stone Marquetry, Architectural Systems Inc.
An ancient tradition of handcrafted stone, marquetry has always been prohibitively expensive for use in the commercial arena. New York City’s Architectural Systems decided to create a new technique to revive interest in the ancient craft. “We basically applied modern technology to laser-cut the stone,” says Nancy Jackson, President of Architectural Systems Inc., New York.

This updated version of stone marquetry highlights a growing trend: looking at the past through the lens of modern technology — to deliver a sense of authenticity. This is particularly attractive to the hospitality market, where it’s all about creating a one-of-a-kind experience for the customer. Fabricated on glass or aluminum honeycomb, Stone Marquetry is a good signature material for furniture, feature walls and flooring. The stone comes in multiple colors, from yellow onyx to lapis blue to black marble. According to Jackson, it’s attractive to the hospitality market because it’s unlike anything else out there.

WINNERS: TEXTILES

DT Home Collection, DesignTex
When Design Director Jane Wicks and her design staff at New York-based DesignTex set out to create a beautiful new sheer for upscale hotels, they looked toward trends in clothing to guide some of their choices. They noticed that the hand-stitched look was making the rounds in New York and Paris, and they brought that cutting-edge embroidered look to their new drapery collection. “We wanted an embellished sheer, a beautiful pattern that would stand out,” Wicks says.

Such a unique style is important, because upscale hotels are always looking for ways to add sophistication and comfort to their guest rooms. More often, guests staying in upscale hotels and spas expect to their surroundings to create an experience: pricey linens, Jacuzzi tubs and tasteful furnishings have become staples. DesignTex’s drapery patterns are designed to create that luxurious experience.

NightLife Collection, Edelman Leather
Meant to evoke an image of a night out on the town full of glitz and glamour, the Nightlife Collection offers a new way to look at upholstery, says Teddy Edelman, Chairperson of New Milford, Conn., Edelman Leather. Like sequins on blue jeans, the metallic embellished leather blends the unlikely. “It’s a response to using extraordinary materials in ordinary ways,” she says, noting the influence of fashion heavy-hitters such as Prada and Versace.

The collection appeals to hospitality venues in search of the unusual. “We looked far and wide to find extraordinary colors,” Edelman says. While it’s been a hit in Las Vegas, it’s also being used by more toned-down restaurants and hotels to create a highlight piece.

WINNERS: SEATING

Lounge, Janus et Cie
A modular seating system, the Lounge collection by Hollywood, Calif.-based Janus et Cie was designed with flexibility in mind — not just in its multitude of configurations, but in its indoor/outdoor adaptability, says Janice Feldman, President. Made of Hularo®, a synthetic fiber, the Lounge pieces are as at home poolside as they are in a hotel lobby.

The clean, angular design speaks to the functionality of the pieces, she says. “They have a soft, chalky look; it’s an organic look, designed to blend well with dark woods or green lawns.” Durability is also a big selling point. Edges won’t get worn and the fiber resists the growth of bacteria and fungi — a crucial factor if the pieces are to be used outdoors in a humid climate. “It’s about being limitless,” Feldman says.

Orbit, Janus et Cie
Named for its orb-like shape and its ability to spin, (the Orbit chairs sit on removable in-line skate wheels), the Orbit collection introduces a touch of whimsy to the hospitality furniture arena. Yet the designs are still 100 percent practical, according to Feldman. “It’s fantastic for public spaces because it’s so resistant to everything: ultra-violet light, food stains, kids, animals — you name it.”

The round shape is meant to inspire a sense of connection, whether it’s as a cozy space for one, a romantic date or a family-friendly gathering. The chairs come with or without a canopy and are suitable inside or out. Wheels mean that your view can easily turn as you follow the afternoon sun across the sky. Made of high-tech Hularo® fabric, each Orbit piece is handcrafted — a juxtaposition Feldman loves. “This piece represents a very interesting marriage of craft and industry,” she says.

WINNER: CASEGOODS/FURNITURE

Heavy Cast Glass Furniture, Nathan Allan Glass Studios Inc.
Designed to revolutionize the look and feel of glass tabletops, the heavy cast method for fusing glass is a highly scientific process with eye-catching results, says Barry Allan, director of the British Columbia, Canada-based Nathan Allan Glass Studios Inc. Eight layers of glass are stacked on top of a mold, placed in a kiln and fired. The bottom layer picks up the texture.

“No one else in the industry is even attempting to do this,” Allan says. Most tabletop glass has a maximum thickness of 3/4 inch. By contrast, the heavy cast glass ranges from 1 to 4 inches. Another first: texturing the edge of the glass. “It’s brand new,” Allan says. The heavy cast glass is showing up on hotel registration desks, casino bar tops and restaurant tabletops.