BDwest, the West Coast trade fair and conference for hospitality design professionals, drew 2,400+ attendees to the Los Angeles Convention Center, March 31-April 1, marking a 60 percent increase in participation over the previous year.
Exhibit space grew by 22 percent, to 41,500 net square feet, with 260 manufacturers and marketers showcasing furniture, fixtures, lighting, seating, wall coverings, accessories and other design elements for hospitality interiors.
Michelle Finn, President, Hospitality Media Group, and SVP, ST Media Group, said the quality of attendees exceeded expectations and the intimacy of the trade fair provided the perfect backdrop for meaningful conversations and business exchange. “Our mission is to provide a more personalized trade fair experience, enhanced by an expanded conference program, designed spaces, product innovation and interactive workshops that create excitement and increase engagement on the trade fair floor,” she added.
Two-time BDwest exhibitor Brandon Brockmiller, a 34-year veteran of the hospitality industry who represented Alhambra, Calif.-based Ariston Hospitality at this year’s trade fair, cited the caliber of clientele as one of the main benefits of exhibiting. “I met with principals and decision makers and actually discussed projects and the scope of available work,” he said. “I also enjoy the size of the trade fair, which allows for time to see all the booths and to spend time with those that you have an interest in.”
Marking double-digit growth each year since its 2013 debut in San Diego, BDwest relocated to larger quarters at the L.A. Convention Center for its 2016 run. Attendees included interior designers, architects and purchasing executives as well as hospitality owners, operators and developers from more than 30 states across the U.S. and over 10 countries including, Mexico, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan and the United Kingdom.
Attendee David Shove-Brown, Partner at Washington, D.C.-based design firm //3877, praised the fair’s “design power” and opportunities for relationship building. “BDwest is absolutely becoming a must-attend event,” he said. “It’s a really rare opportunity because it gives you the chance to not only speak with vendors about their products—and even specific projects you’re working on—but it also gives you the opportunity to talk with designers and other architects about projects, client situations, or their own office structure. Having that chance to sit down and really talk to a very diverse group in a short period of time is fantastic.”
Running concurrently with the two-day trade fair, BDwest’s largest-ever conference program featured 100+ speakers and 37 sessions—nine with IDCEC and AIA accreditation. Panelists included leaders from Benjamin West, Best Western International, BUILT INC., Burba Hayes, Cachet Hotels Group, CHMWarnick, citizenM, DiLeonardo, Dawson Design Associates, DESIGN360 unlimited, Design Poole Inc., Dream Hotel Group, EDG, Gensler, The Gettys Group, GRAFT, HHM, Hilton Worldwide, Host Hotels & Resorts, H Wood Group, The Kessler Collection, Lark Hotels, Marriott International, Pacifica Hotels, Puccini Group, SH Group, SIXTY Hotels, Stonehill & Taylor, Studio Munge, Virserius Studio, Wilson Associates, Wilson Red, Wimberly Interiors and more.
Sessions were organized in four tracks: Information, exploring the projects, people and products influencing headline-making hospitality work in 2016; Inspiration, offering out-of-the-box ideas from sources as varied as theater designers, tech innovators and street artists; Interaction, bringing attendees face-to-face with influential hospitality leaders via exhibit-floor workshops and interviews; and Intel, a new track delivering business-building advice from thought leaders in hospitality design.
Among the Intel session topics for 2016 were “Finding a Niche: Being Big and Boutique,” with panelists David Dunphy of Studio HBA, Julia Choi of Wilson Associates, and James Lehouiller of DiStudio; “Everything You Want To Know About Big Brand Design But Are Afraid To Ask,” with panelists Margaret McMahon of Wimberly Interiors (a design studio of WATG) and Glenn Wilson of Marriott International; and “The Business of Design,” moderated by Scott Rosenberg of Jonathan Nehmer and Associates with panelists Michael Dalton of Whitespace Interiors and Tom Ito of Gensler.
“BDwest’s diverse conference program enabled attendees to customize their learning and networking experiences based on their interests and priorities,” said Boutique Design Executive Editor and Conference Director Mary Scoviak. “Our goal was to connect, inform and inspire—to start conversations.”
In addition to presentations from rising stars in hospitality—the 2016 Boutique 18 honorees and 2016 Up-and-Coming Hoteliers—attendees had myriad opportunities to learn from, and engage with, thought leaders in the industry, including the signature “Boutique Design Power Players: Women Leaders in Hospitality” breakfast and panel discussion, a ticketed event co-sponsored by NEWH and Maya Romanoff.
A ticketed event moderated by Scoviak, the Power Players panel included: Andrea Dawson Sheehan, CEO/Art Director, Dawson Design Associates; Dawn Hagin, Chief Inspiration Officer, Lark Hotels; Tiina Martin, Managing Director of Interior Design, Cachet Hotel Group; Margaret Schutze, Vice President, Wilson Red; Diana Simaan Kessler, Creative Director, The Kessler Collection; and Jane Skeeter, Founder/CEO, ULTRAGLAS, Inc.
Some 450 hospitality design professionals came together for BDwest’s Opening Reception March 30 at L.A. Live’s The Conga Room. The evening kicked off with a special ceremony honoring the winners of Boutique Design (BD) magazine’s eleventh annual Boutique 18 competition, which recognizes rising-star designers in the hospitality industry. The 2016 class includes honorees from Clear on Black, Gensler, HOK, Walt Disney Imagineering, Wimberly Interiors, Wynn Design & Development and more. Also feted were the winners of BD’s second annual Up-and-Coming Hoteliers awards: Jason Pomeranc, Partner, SIXTY Hotels; Jay Stein, CEO, Dream Hotel Group; and Barry Sternlicht, Chairman & CEO, Starwood Capital Group.
Thursday, March 31, marked the culmination of the NEWH Orange County and Los Angeles Founding Chapters’ Hospitality Fashion Challenge Competition, in which design-firm teams craft couture fashions from scraps of tile, carpet and other reusable design elements donated by BDwest exhibitors. Garments from 15 teams were modeled, judged and auctioned at the Hospitality Fashion Runway Show & Cocktail Reception @ BDwest, held at Exchange LA, a four-level nightclub in the former Los Angeles Stock Exchange building. More than 400 BDwest participants attended the event, with auction proceeds benefitting NEWH initiatives.
The team from Gensler–San Francisco took “Best in Show” honors, receiving a $3,000 cash prize. Second place went to the Marriott International team; third place to the KNA Design team. Judges for this year’s Fashion Challenge included: Michael Fuerstman, Co-Founder & Creative Director, Pendry Hotels / Montage Hotels & Resorts; Daniel Hyde, VP of Design, Development & Construction, Pacifica Hotels; Paula Lemme, Head of Interior Design, All Inclusives Collection; Tiina Martin, Managing Director of Interior Design, Cachet Hotel Group; and David McCaslin, Executive Vice President, HHM.
Throughout the two-day trade fair, attendees flocked to four custom-built Designed Spaces on the BDwest exhibit floor. Created by leading hospitality design firms in collaboration with participating sponsors, the Designed Spaces functioned as intimate environments for conference workshops and interviews, as well as bars/lounges, showcasing exhibitor product in a hospitality environment.
Designed Spaces for 2016 included: The Bar Archipelago, a tiered “island” concept inspired by an image of a cresting wave, by DESIGN360 unlimited; PIX Lounge, a tech-inspired space with a fashion gallery vibe, by Design Poole; Kino, a dramatic setting inspired by the “lacy” homes in Siberia and the high-contrast world of Russian cinema, by Stonehill & Taylor; and The Dalton, a design inspired by the structural configuration of molecular compound models, by Puccini Group.
BDwest returns April 6-7, 2017, at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Details about exhibitors, sessions, speakers and social events, as well as attendee registration and exhibitor information, will be available at boutiquedesignwest.com as they become available.