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A PLACE TO GATHER

“As the world gets smaller with the internet, we work harder to draw inspiration from within: our travels, our cultures, our differences and similarities, our shared experiences, and unique backgrounds,” said Christine Shanahan, principal of HVS Design.

For The Blake Hotel, a new hotel project in New Haven, CT, combined with the needs of the city, inspired her and her team to find a place of comfort and community. Gathering became a theme woven throughout the architecture and furnishings. Gathered materials and a thoughtfully-mixed collection of finishes and metals breathe life into a space both guests and the community can appreciate.

Shanahan quoted iconic graphic designer Lou Dorfsman to make her point: “In reality, creativity is the ability to reach inside yourself and drag forth from your very soul an idea.”

In an interview with InspireDesign, Shanahan talks about the inspiration behind The Blake Hotel, which opened earlier this year, and what it means to design and collaborate.

What is the design philosophy of HVS Design?

We are a group of divergent thinkers. We believe in challenging the norm, the expected. We view design as an opportunity to affect change, to create a positive impact on the experience of the end user.

What are some common themes at this property and what makes this hotel distinctive?

This hotel’s distinctive niche is that it puts B&F at the forefront; unlike many conventional hotels. The Blake Hotel is like a restaurant that happens to have guestrooms. The owners firmly believe in letting the free-spirited nature of the B&F industry be the thread throughout the hotel’s public spaces. Casually-appointed seating areas, mixed with poetry readings, live music, and good food and drink, all come together, just like getting together at your best friend’s house, warm, inviting and casually sophisticated.

How do you infuse a sense of place into each hotel, so travelers are discovering the world inside the hotel?

Our studio sees each project as we would a residence. Each project has its own story, its own persona. Just as we would not design the same home for different homeowners, we look at each hotel with a unique and fresh set of eyes to create something that is amazing for that property and that property alone. Each comes with its own market audience, in a unique location, with challenges and goals that are distinct to that property. Giving the project a sense of place pulls all these elements together in a way that delights and satisfies today’s guest.

What else would you like the industry to know about how you approach hotel projects like this one?

We believe in the definition of “WE,” collaboration is the key to our culture. We are strong as a collective group because every single team member is a source of creativity. Our approach to good design is that the best ideas come from everyone.