In this episode of the Hotel Design Podcast we welcome designer Kimberly Daoust, who is principal at Tandem - a Las Vegas-based interior design firm that she co-founded in 2005. While she lives in Austin, TX, she commutes by plane to Vegas.
The conversation starts out with how Las Vegas is a great place for design freedom. Kim loves that by nature, the city is impermanent and so is its design. Glenn and Kim then discuss the first casino resort project that she ever took part in 25 years ago. The project was a riverboat casino, which she did with Paul Steelman - another visionary who was previously featured on The Hotel Design Podcast.
Kim then shares her experiences working on creating The Cromwell, which was the first project that her company Tandem completed on The Strip. The project challenged her to utilize original structural and design elements of the former Bill’s Gambling Saloon, such as the existing chandeliers, as a starting point for a modern boutique hotel design experience. She also shares details about what it was like working with Las Vegas icon and nightclub visionary Victor Drai, and how he inspired her to utilize a more feminine design approach throughout the property. They also discuss the opportunities and limitations designing new guestrooms in older guestrooms ideally built for a previous era, and how the small scale of the entire property has affected its overall evolution.
The conversation shifts to her role in designing the Bret Michaels suite at the Hard Rock Riviera Maya, and then back again to Las Vegas to discuss recreating the historic El Cortez. Kim discussed tying in a graphic street art element into the design, and the notion of designing something seemingly timeless in a city where timeless is anything but that. She also discusses the Black Hawk Casino expansion project in Colorado outside Denver. It has a Wild West feel in an area that goes back to the days of gold rushes back in the 1800s. Kim goes into detail about how she created a sense of authenticity for the 500-room hotel expansion. The area is also exceptionally small, and the one-lane roads to leading to the hotel are curvy and narrow, so she talks about how that challenge affected the entire project from design to execution.
Finally, Glenn and Kim discuss how she found her calling as a designer, how her dad’s role in the fabric business affected that goal, and how she found her way into casino and resort design through residential design. She also shares an emotional story regarding designing and building the Hard Rock Biloxi, MS, which was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina just before it was set to open. Kim also provides many incredible tips that you have to listen to.
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