A storyteller in her own right, designer Lisa Haude creates one-of-a-kind spaces that breathe a new level of authenticity into the projects she touches. Working predominantly with the larger brands, such Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts and Marriott International, Haude’s style is to celebrate the history of each hotel’s destination, which is channeled through an meaningful design narrative that is sheltered inside each project.
One of her recent projects – among many others – is AC Hotel by Marriott Washington D.C. Downtown, a hotel in the heart of the city that’s design marries together the architectural relevance of Washington D.C. with a modern twist.
“The one-of-a-kind light fixture that spans from the bar through the lobby space is actually a replica of the Potomac River from an aerial viewpoint.” – Lisa Haude, founder of PDG Studios.
To learn more about the project, and the designer who brought it to life, I caught up with Haude, the founder of PDG Studios.
Hamish Kilburn: What inspired you to be a designer?
Lisa Haude: I’ve always loved being creative. Thinking outside of the box and bringing a vision to life is such a rewarding experience and one that I treasure the most.
HK: One of your recently completed projects was the AC Marriott DC. Can you explain for us the design scheme and what the challenges were for this project?
LH: With this project, we wanted to take the iconic, historical architectural elements of Washington DC and reinvent them with a modern interpretation. This was done by juxtaposing strong structural lines (which the building already had) and incorporating softer curves and fluid movement via furniture and unique, yet focal, point details. For example, the one-of-a-kind light fixture that spans from the bar through the lobby space is actually a replica of the Potomac River from an aerial viewpoint, which was reinterpreted in an artistic light form to provide soft, fluid lines and movement throughout the space.
Our biggest challenge with this space was working within a very small building that had many structural constraints. Although difficult at times, these challenges are what really allow us to expand our creativity and bring something truly unique to life!
HK: As well as high-end luxury you have also completed some recent budget hotels. How do you achieve adding personality on a budget?
LH: With a small budget, we focus on being strategic with how the funds are allocated, paying attention to every little detail and having a very strong design story that can be implemented from start to finish. This requires some flexibility and creativity as you work through the execution of the design with the contractor to ensure that the design intent is carried through and will make the most out of the budget you are working with.
HK: Can you explain to us more about the projects you have on the boards?
LH: We are currently working on a historic/adaptive reuse property, a modern mountain get-away, and another very fun project that will be a nod to history but with a modern twist, among a few others!
HK: In your work, there seems to be a lot of emphasis on art. What is your secret to persuade the client to allocate enough budget for artwork?
LH: We believe that art is part of the design story and we are very intentional with the placement and selection of the pieces we use. We work closely with our owners to make sure we have some money carved out to include some unique pieces in the spaces, as they are the necessary cherry on top that helps complete the design.
HK: What is one trend that you wish will never return?
LH: Wallpaper borders! This may be dating me slightly, but when I started in the design industry, a guestroom or residential project was not complete unless you had a wallpaper border in the space.
HK: What items during lockdown could you not have lived without?
LH: Computer, iPhone and wine (and, of course, my daughter and dog!)
HK: What makes a good design team?
LH: A team of like-minded individuals who respect each other and truly value each other’s input and love to collaborate.
HK: Who is your interior design hero?
LH: I have so many people in the industry that I look up to, but today, the people I admire the most are those working around the clock to find safe alternatives and vaccines so that we may all soon be able to travel freely and be inspired by the people and places around us.
HK: Describe PDG Studios in three words…
LH: storytellers, authentic and collaborative!
“It’s important to plan for and design zones that allow for individual space.” – Lisa Haude, founder of PDG Studios
HK: How have the challenges of the pandemic allowed you to challenge conventional design?
LH: We now need to be more adaptive and creative with how we approach design. In our current designs, we encourage the incorporation of more green and outdoor space (i.e. rooftop terraces, balconies and courtyards), the use of larger windows/natural light sources and less toxic materials, such as natural materials and plants. It’s important to plan for and design zones that allow for individual space, where one can work and be conscience of the materials that are being used. Moving forward, it will be imperative to source materials that do not harbour germs and can be easily cleaned—and those people spending time in these spaces will want to know that!
HK: How will smart tech evolve in the hotel guestroom post-pandemic?
LH: Easy/quick access to tech will become even more of a necessity. From the ability to work from your room via teleconferencing to the ease of being able to fully automate your room via your smart device, tech is most likely going to continue to evolve and become more mainstream and expected. For example, the ability to turn on/off lights, control the AC /heat, open/close the door, etc., without contact (using voice activation instead) will be very desired and important to many people. The technology is already there for many of these items, but I believe there will be a greater push to make it more affordable and mainstream to the greater public in a hospitality-type setting.
HK: Has sustainability slipped off the agenda in hospitality?
LH: I don’t think so. I feel like it is now even more important that we use products that are sustainable, locally sourced and easy to clean and maintain. I believe that this period of time has taught us all to take a step back and appreciate the people in our life and our surroundings. We have also become more conscience about our choices and how products are used and/or disposed of.
Main image credit: PDG Studio/Hilton Garden Inn Bozeman/AC Hotel by Marriott Washington DC Downtown