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January 21, 2020 41 mins

Fueled in no small part by the rise of Instagram. Pinterest, and HGTV, design has become a cultural obsession, and this is having a big impact on travel and hospitality. Adam Farmerie, one of the four principals at award-winning design firm AvroKO, is responsible for many of the hotels, private clubs, bars, and restaurants that are topping our must-see travel lists. He talks about how and why he designs these provocative spaces. Find more info about this episode at 

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Speaker 1 (00:04):
When we go out, whether we're out in the city
that we live in or whether we're traveling, we have
a natural anxiety to us psychologically that goes up and
down depending on how comfortable we are in a space
right and trying to manage that anxiety through design tends
to be something that we put a lot of energy

into as well, because that if that if you can
provide a space in which people feel safe and that
they feel that it's a comfortable place for them to be,
then they're then they're open to experiencing a lot. Welcome
to A Way to Go, a production of I Heart
Radio and Fathom. I'm jeral and Gerba and I'm Pavio Rosetti.

Something's been happening and travel in recent years, fueled in
no small part by the rise of Instagram and Pinterest
and even h G t V, design has become a
cultural obsession and this is having a big impact on
travel and hospitality. Specifically, travelers are seeking out places where
design is a key element of the appeal. We're talking

about hotel lobbies that function as social centers, restaurants that
look like design stores, hotel rooms that inspire all those
how to turn your home into a boutique hotel, blog posts,
and shopping guides. Our guest today is Adam Farmery, one
of the four principles at Avroco, an award winning troop
of traveling designers who are creating the spaces, the hotels,

the private clubs, the bars, and the restaurants that are
filling our Instagram feeds and topping our must see travel lists. Adam, welcome.
We're so happy to have you. Thank you for having
We wanted to dive right in on this podcast. We're
examining why people travel, and not to get all meta,
but you and your Avroco colleagues exist a step before this.

You are creating the destinations that people travel to. Yes, yeah,
and that's that's sometimes a heavy burden, right. The difficulty
is at times you sort of find yourself traveling in
order to figure out what your inspiration is yourself, in
order to then figure out what it is that you're
creating as that next level of that version for other people.

So the four founders met in college and you now
have two hundred people on your team and offices in
New York, San Francisco, Bangkok, and London. The office that
you're running. Was hospitality always a focus of the business
or did the work evolve in that way. That's a
great question. I think that ultimately the work ended up
the result of what we're trying to do as a

as a design group. You know, it is important for
us to not just try to specialize in one specific
type of design. You know. We we came from architecture
as well as art backgrounds, and instead of trying to
focus in on just being architecture and designers, we wanted
to do everything sort of everything from graphic design to
lighting design to furniture design two interiors, and it seemed

the hospitality was the best way to be able to
attack controlling everything about an environment. And because we've known
if a really long time, we know that it began
with restaurants. Yes, that's right, and and even going back
a step further, you know, when we first started out
in New York, it was very difficult to sort of
get this sort of really juicy projects that you sort
of think that you want to sit, you know, sink

your teeth into. So ultimately we ended up sort of
doing a couple of small restaurants here and there, a
couple of small bars and Ultimately, a big break came
with the restaurant Public, which we ended up going a
little bit deeper. Instead of just designing it, we went
about and gathered up some investment and put the project
together to the point where we were operating it as well.
And your brother was the chef. Yeah, that helped, it helped. Yeah,

My brother Brad was living in London and he had
sort of jokingly said one day, you know, you guys
are already doing so much for your clients. You're sort
of designing these things soup soup to nuts or dirt
to spoons, as we tend to tend to call it.
And what would what would happen if you just went
to next step further and actually thought about, you know,
putting the food and the drinks and the service and
the music together to kind of compliment the overall hospitality experience.

Patty and I have been big fans of Public since
its inception, and one of the things that's really interesting
hearing you talk about it now is how it really
was a hallmark, or maybe it seems to me like
it was a sign of things to come. One of
the my favorite touch points of that restaurant was the
designed soap bars, the soap bars in the path of

bathroom that you could take most as souvenirs as you
would if you were staying at a hotel. I thought
that was a really beautiful and clever little approach to
a takeaway. Can you describe for our listeners what the
concept was if they Yeah, This was right around the
time that the Smoking Band had set into New York City,
and so the notion that people would take matchbooks had

sort of was starting to dissipate. The idea that you
would take a matchbook when you were leaving a restaurant
and collect matchbooks. People were just not producing as many
match books anymore, and we wanted to think about a
different kind of takeaway. We thought a little bit about
the times that we had traveled as kids, and we
all kind of grew up middle class backgrounds, and when
we appled, we would stay in motels across America, usually

driving with our families somewhere, and you'd go to these
motels and you'd end up having these single serve sized
kind of soaps that had the name of the hotel
or the motel on it. And many of us found
that we grabbed these and had little mini collections of
them at home from when we were kids, and so
we thought, wouldn't it be quite amazing to do a

version of that, and not to just do it at
the front of the of the restaurant where you're used
to having a takeaway, but do it somewhere where it's surprising.
So when you go to the bathroom, you're never thinking
that there's going to be anything happening except for the
fact that you're gonna check your makeup and you know,
get ready to go back to your date. But ultimately,
all of a sudden, there was a whole wall of
free soaps and you felt as though that you were

a kid at the candy store, and there's probably a
little bit of delight moment that ended up happening out
of that. Absolutely, I'm glad you mentioned that, because I
feel like whimsy has always been a really important element
of the work that Africa does. There's always something clever,
there's always something funny, there's a little bit of quirk.
Is that a conscious decision that you guys want to
infuse that spirit into your design. That's a good question, Pobby.

I think ultimately we definitely now have realized after looking
back for the past twenty years that that is a
significant or a significant thread that happens within the design
for sure. And we've we've kind of now broken down
our general approach to hospitable thinking two three kind of
s words. There's sort of the notion of safety, significance,

and surprise, And a lot of times the surprise element
is the thing that we really focus a lot of
energy on because it's so hard to do. You know,
a lot of times you can walk into a space
and feel like, Okay, I get it, I see what's
happening here. But the thing that catches you off guard
is often the thing that you remember the most, like
the fact that Geraldine, like you mentioned that the soaps
were so such a touch point that it kind of

arrests you from your traditional experience and and that sort
of is something that we we do try to put
a lot of energy into the safety. That's just the
basics of designing hospitality space. Is that right? That would
be ideal? Right if unfortunately sometimes the basics are kind
of missed. You know, oftentimes you walk into a space
and you don't feel safe because you might have anxiety

with not knowing where you're supposed to be going, or
you're sat in an area that you don't feel as
though that there's a physical boundary around you that at
any point you could be bumped by waiters walking by.
So there's a lot of layers to that, but yes,
that should be the baseline. But safety, as you guys
define it, is how you want people to feel in
your spaces. Safety not in terms of I will not

be harmed and I write and can you see where
the exit is in the movie theater? But rather I
feel comfortable in the space? Yeah, and how do how
you know? How do you how do you reduce that
kind of overall anxiety. It's a lot of reducing anxiety
because I think when when we go out, whether we're
out in the city that we live in or whether
we're traveling, we have a natural anxiety to us psychologically

that goes up and down depending on how comfortable we
are in a space, right, and trying to manage that
anxiety through design tends to be something that we put
a lot of energy into as well, because that if
that if you can provide a space in which people
feel safe and that they feel that it's a comfortable
place for them to be, then they're then they're open

to experiencing a lot. And what's the thirdsk though, what
is the significance? Yeah, that's that's probably the most ephemeral
one to try to get after. You know, I think
that as you as you rightly mentioned, safety sort of
becomes a baseline for how to make sure that a
space works and allows people to open up psychologically to
the experience. Surprise is something that if you really put

your head to it enough, you can kind of figure
out a few moments of surprise for a guest. But significance,
how does it make people feel as that they've they've
had an experience that is enriched their their lives in
a meaningful way, whether that's through the actual design, whether
you're connecting them to something more nostalgic, which is also
a big part of our work. We sort of use

nostalgia as a way to try to connect the people
that are experiencing this place to feelings and emotions that
they might have had culturally for so that whether that's
when they were younger, whether it's something that they're connecting
to right now. I'm thinking of the motel you guys
restored in Calistoga, which is super old timey and game

z and just has such a nineteen fifties vibes. Yeah.
The Calistoga Motor Lodge. Yeah, that's a great example, um,
where you know, it was already a motor lodge, and
we just sort of dove really deep and tried to
figure out how to pull out the essence of what
that might have felt like to a family or individuals
that were traveling through the cal you know, the California
Napa landscape and stumbled upon this great motor lodge. And

there's a lot of to your point, kind of fifties,
sixties and seventies references that we all understand, um, and
even people that are not American would probably start to
understand through television show is that they might have seen
in movies. And so you start to pick up on
these touch points, and you become kind of enriched by

the feeling as though that you are in almost an authentic,
very version of something that no longer exists today. Besides
the nostalgia aspect, which does show up in a lot

of your work, is there a signature aesthetic or feeling
or mood something that you see as a through line
in everything that you're creating yeah, that's a good question.
I think that ultimately, Abrico has taken a lot of
pride from maybe of having a style that is undefinable,

even though they're sefferent. Definitely, if if you sort of
looked at a lot of projects next to each other,
you can feel that there's a sensibility to them, but
that usually, um, you might have one that that that
looks drastically different than another. There's I often bring up
an example. There are three projects that we did for

good friends of ours, Rob and Kevin, who run a
great restaurant group in Chicago called the Boca Restaurant Group,
and they asked us to do three restaurants in the
same neighborhood in Fulton Market, literally three blocks away from
each other. And I've had people coming up to us
in the past that have said, oh, yeah, I know
that you did Momentaro, which is a Japanese restaurant, but

you should go check out Duck Duck Goat down the street.
I don't know who designed it. And then we say, well,
actually we designed it for Stephanie Izzard, and then they say, oh, yeah, okay,
fair enough, Like I didn't know that you did that one,
but there's this great place down the street from that
Swift and Sons. Oh yeah, we designed that one too, right,
So they all kind of they all kind of riff
on different aesthetics, But that was sort of important for

us to make sure that it wasn't just kind of
same same, right. I think a lot of times design
teams can get stuck in a in a visual trend,
and I think the way that we arrest ourselves from
doing that is to constantly challenge ourselves with new inspirations
for our projects. Yeah, it's interesting that you bring that

up because Pavy and I are often talking about how
there is a global sameness. Uh, you know, I was
in Georgia, the country and found a beautiful Brooklyn inspired
coffee bar with the latte designs foam and the subway tiles,
and we see the Edison lightings ubiquitous and and in

a way, these are signifiers that Okay, I'm about to
have a nice cup of proper cup of coffee. But
at this on the other hand, it feels a little same, same, same, Yeah,
and it can be a little boring when the world
starts to look the same. We're all watching the same
TV shows, we're all all using the same cultural references.

Remember when I was in Hong Kong. Now, yeah, when
I was in Hong Kong, I saw the same window
of a Fendi store five times in like in a
three block radiings three block radius. And that's different because
that's their whole goal. But no, Jerlyn's right, the Brooklyn
ification in terms of the aesthetics. How do cultural and

regional and nationalistic differences impact design because you guys have
projects all over the world. You're doing hotels in England,
in Poland, in Asia, in the United States. Yeah, that's
a great question. And ultimately, I think that this kind
of gets to one of the things that we love
about our job, and that is that we we have

to go find inspiration through the travel to those places
in which we're working in. So instead of importing, you know,
New York, we try to use a New York sensibility
to kind of to try to make sense of new
inspirations that we find in the places that we're traveling. Um.
So for example, you know, you mentioned holand Pavia, and

we're working with a great group they're called Purero and
they're just they're just doing some really beautiful hotels, great
sense of design and really incredible service levels, especially for
what's been happening in Eastern Europe in the past, at
also a lower price point, kind of like the when
I met with them, they said, we're kind of like

the ACE Hotels of Poland. Yeah, yeah, And I think
that's probably a little aspirational, but not far off, right.
I think that they probably they probably command the respect
that ACE commanded when they first started out in the
United States, right, and and still do in so far
that people connect to what they're being presented levels of design.

People are constantly photographing themselves in Pureau hotels. Their Instagram
account is ridiculous, you know. It's I was chatting with
ruinin the other day and because we were reviewing a
mock up room in Royal Law a couple weeks ago,
and he was saying, I couldn't pay for this level
of advertising. You know, it's just it. But somehow he's

figured out how to make sure that the product that
he's putting out there is connecting with not just Polish people,
young Polish people, but other young people who tend to
travel into Poland for work. A lot of Western companies
have sort of relocated into Warsaw or tech companies have
put outlets there, and there's just a way in which
he's using design to kind of connect to those to

those travelers. But they're not doing it in a way
they're they're replicating Brooklyn design. And I think that's what
the point sort of coming full circle is is that
you know, when we went in and we started working
on this new project in Warsaw, it was important for
us to try to dive deeper into what the history
of Warsaw was, or or Poland was in the twentieth century,

to try to figure out why it is that people
um are connecting to the types of design that they
are connecting to, and instead of just importing a point
of view from somewhere else, it was more about pulling
out of the culture some of those touch points that
they can relate to, whether you're Polish or whether you're
going into Poland and sort of understanding the recent sort

of cultural and design past that it's had. Are there
any examples that you can share with us for Poland
in particular. Obviously you're not building yet, so some of
these things may not actually end up there. They may
end up on the cutting room floor. But what are
some of these examples that you're pulling? Yeah, I know.
That's ultimately what we ended up doing is we realize
that there are two sides of the sort of Polish

cultural past, at least the most recent twentieth century past.
There's kind of pre war kind of nineteen twenties where
there was it was almost a roaring Parisian bohemian atmosphere,
right that was that was really rich in terms of
its spaces, and then it's kind of got cut off
into this kind of postwar communist past that also is

super interesting, and shouldn't you shouldn't just turn your blind
eye to it, because there's there are things that you
can relate to that happened in kind of that fifties,
sixties seventies communist block that if you can mash them
up with with that kind of pre war Poland you
end up with a kind of a design idea that

ends up becoming almost this unique mashup of the two
that is immediately understandable but extremely fresh and new. So
it's almost like a retro future of what has existed
within the Polish kind of cultural landscape. So, you know,
when you think about walking through fewer fewer of us

probably walk through Poland many of us have traveled to
East Berlin, for example, before the wall came down or
even after, and you see these huge housing blocks with
their kind of vast amounts of concrete and tile and
this kind of soulless experience, but that there's something uniquely
beautiful about some of that design, and if you can
kind of capture the essence of it, you can capture

the essence of having a new hotel that is decidedly
built within a recently ex communist country looking to a
new future. You know, like it all starts to stay
in the same pot right, right, right, and it's decidedly
in Brooklyn, right importantly. Um, you know, it's it's interesting

the range of projects that you guys have worked on, right.
You've done small boutique hotels, like the one hotel in
Central Park South that had this whole eco aesthetic before
it became as important as it was. You're working on
the Hilton in Athens, which is probably the opposite of
what I would call a boutique hotel for an independent company.
What's the difference between working in a boutique environment and

working in a big corporate environment other than perhaps the
size of the paycheck. Yeah, no, it's a good question.
I think I would say that a lot of times
we probably end up approaching the projects in a similar fashion,
meaning that we're trying trying to it's it's maybe it's
just that the canvas is bigger, right like ultimately a

boutique like the one hotel, or we're working on a
hotel in London right now, that's only a hundred thirty
four keys. So in the scale of things that's considered
a boutique hotel versus in Athens it's you know, five
some odd keys. But you know, our approach to it
is generally the same as that you have to try
to figure out what it is that people are going

to connect to, and a lot of times the focus
that we have is trying to figure out what people
that live there are going to connect to. I think
a lot of times with our current design agenda or
a current design attitude, is trying to make sure that
the hotel isn't just attractive to people who are traveling,
but to people who are traveling across town. Because we

now consume hotels differently than we used to, so much
time at hotel. I've been thinking about this because I
spend too much time in hotels, also because we are
in the travel space that we're spending so much time
in hotels. Or is everybody spending more time in I'm
sure it's on our brain a little more so. It
feels like a great place to stop for a WiFi,

for a glass wine, for a bathroom break, whatever it is.
But I do feel like people are more open to
meeting at hotels. It doesn't seem like a thing to
say to a friend, Hey, meet me in the lobby
of the nomad. It feels like that's what people meet,
do and meet socially. Well, let's ask the expert, Adam. No, Adam, listen,
in the years you've been doing this, have you noticed
that travelers needs and people's needs and expectations of hospitality

experience have changed? Yeah, they have for sure. Well there's
I I can cite maybe two two things that I've
seen in our current projects. One is there's an advent
of of kind of members club types of spaces that
are being introduced as amenities within the hotels. I think
of the project you're working on in Europe. Of them

have an aspect of that that is trying to both
capture and put forward the phenomenon that the Ace and
places like the Hoxton have probably traded on for years,
and trying to monetize it right where you create a
space that's specifically for people who are in the local
community to come to and work, or to have a

wellness aspect to their life, or whatever it may be.
But it's it's a it's a it's a beacon to
connect to the local community. So seeing that as a
lot of in many of the project scopes these days,
tends to kind of give me the queue that okay,
people are that our hoteliers are now specifically trying to
go out and connected to the community. But it also

sounds like the pendulum is swinging back the other way.
Because the hotel is such a public space for everybody,
we also now need to create something that's just for
the hotel guests so that they feel like they're getting
special care. One old which in London, which you didn't do,
but which I toured this year, had this. You enter,
the lobby on the left is for everybody, but then
the lobby on the hotel guests and it's a much

nicer space. Yes, no, you're absolutely right. And we just
did a We just did a six floor members club
called Maslow's in Fitzrovia in London, which has a similar thing.
There's a ground floor restaurant that's open to the world
and then there's a separate kind of entrance. If you remember,
you scan your card and you go upstairs and you
experience the rest of it. Yeah, it's it's the sort

of rise of that has been interesting. We've been working
on a couple of projects for a group called Eden,
which were formerly known as Sacho in London, and they're
they're expanding all over Europe and they are trading on
what has been coined as the apart hotel, which is
its own new variation of the hotel room, where it's

somewhat part apartment and somewhat part hotel room, and a
lot of that is sort of examining how people are
provided with maybe two or three different layers of social engagement.
There's an apartment that is big enough for you to
kind of spend time in. It's bigger than a hotel room,
you can cook a small meal. Then there's almost a

co living aspect where groups of these apartments are centered
around a slightly larger living area, so you can commune
with a smaller group of people, or then you go
down to the ground floor and you're communing with everybody. So,
getting back to your previous point about wen Ald, which
it's sort of trading on that similar psychology that we
have is as people, where sometimes I want to be alone,

sometimes I want to be alone with other people, not many,
and sometimes I really want to be with a lot
of a lot of people. The apartment hotel trend is
also taking advantage, of course, of the rise of airbnb s,
and everybody wants to feel like a local, and I
want to feel like and that's right the way I
can feel like a local making a cup of my
own cup of coffee's right in the morning. And maybe
maybe even a change of the work trends that are

occurring where people are are either there's a lot more
people who are consultants and freelancers who are in control
of their time and or there are a lot of
people who are being asked to travel for work and
go not just for a couple of days for a
week like we might go, but to go for a
month or two months or four months, and so you know,
you kind of want to settle in, but you don't

want to find an apartment, and so they give you
the best of both worlds, the hotel amenities with the
apartment you get that instant community, which is probably really compelling. Yeah,
so I imagine that you do a fair bit of
scouting around the world. What are the spaces that you
haven't designed but that inspire you mean, that's that's a
tough one because now you're asking me to call out

you know, some some other some other spots which without
without naming too many names, I think there's a lot
that's happening in London right now. That's it's enviable. You know,
I certainly going to every time I go to the
children Firehouse, you know, which is a Belas property in London,
I get shivers up my spine. And it's not just

the spaces that are there, although that's probably a lot
to do with it. The service and the food is
quite incredible. The waitresses, uniforms, yeah, those uniforms. Who designs those?
Don't remember? I knew English? Is incredible. Those jewel tones, yeah, yeah,
they are beautiful. But that's an example of a touch point.

You know, you were talking earlier moments of surprise. I
haven't been to the children Firehouse in a couple of years,
and yet that's one of the things that the first
thing I think about is beautiful those Yeah, they're kind
of these jumpsuits, right, these beautiful sort of beige blue jumpsuits,
and the servers kind of effortlessly glide around that that

beautiful sort of curved bar. It's a stunning space. Every
time I go into the Nomad here, I kind of
get a you know, you mentioned that that space before.
I always tend to get a little bit of jumping
my step. Well, I feel like that space you walk
in your like the show is about to begin. It
just feels really exciting. What's interesting both of these something
similar to both of those spaces right where they are

about discovery and exploration, you know, and I think, you know,
you go into the Nomad and you kind of in
that great that gate kind of entry vestibule and into
the lobby and passed through the dining room and into
the kind of the elephant bar in the back, and
you passed through this what seems to be a side
door and you're into that long bar on the side
or into the library, and you you can have a

lot of different types of experiences. For example, for a
recurring visitor, you can say, hey, meet me in the library,
or meet me in the elephant bar, meet me in
the sidebar. I had that feeling with your spaces in
Hong Kong. I remember many many moons ago I went
to Lilling Bloom and what was really interesting about that
space was it was built into a part of this

architecture feature which is not really common in Hong Kong
and Hong Kong everyone wants to tear everything down and
build a new and that was one of the first
examples I saw there of adaptive reuse in a beautiful
old building. And it was so shocking because it was
showing the local community, Oh there's beauty in the hast

Wait for those of us like me who don't, who
haven't seen it, tell us what is yeah, Lily in Bloom.
I mean I think that you're bringing up. A great
example is that there was two different floors. There was
more of a kind of a restaurant bistro floor and
then there was a bar floor, and it was it
was steeped almost in this Hong Kong of yesteryear. You know,
it felt as though that the walls kind of had

a bit of a patina from years of cigarette smoke,
and that you know, the stone was imperfect, right, and
we literally got older stone for the bar and that
had marks on it and kind of imperfections built into it.
We created this whole beautiful double height space that had
metal and glass around that felt as though that there
was a garden just beyond and lit it in a

way that felt as though that you were just once
you got deep into this building, there was this whole
other space that you couldn't get to, but you couldn't
quite You could sense it was there, but you couldn't
quite get to it. And so it was very much
like an in the mood for love kind of nostalgia
right where you felt as though that there was you
were kind in a in a something that was decidedly
n glamorous in the way that a lot of Hong

Kong and the kind of early two thousands was being
built up. As how much when you work on a project,
how much is it you are directing the client to
say this is what we think you should do, and
how much does the client come to you and say, okay,
we are in Peru, but we want it to look
like Kenya. What's that? What's that? Probably? I think you're
you're getting at the root of all design and architects

sort of nightmares, right, which is how to balance what
the what the client wants with what the project needs,
right and not that we're the soothsayers of what every
project needs. I think we we had Africa probably pride
ourselves and having an extremely collaborative approach. We we believe
that the best design internally happens from what we call

a kind of a collaborative collective where we make sure
that people that are sitting at the table, a lot
of people have voices and can contribute to the overall project,
and that goes to our clients as well. And I
think that we're also fortunate that we're able to make
sure that when we're talking to people about projects, that

that the clients that were able to sort of decide
that there's a good relationship there that we're able to
move forward with, meaning that we you know, short answer
is we try not to work with clients to tell
us to do a Kenyan rainforest in the middle of Okay,
well listen, but I'm also guessing that if they come
to you, they're coming to you because they know the
work that you do. They had a sense of what

avercast style is, and so you know they're calling you,
they're not calling someone else. Yeah, they want that magic
and and or they you know, or if they were
to call somebody else, they want they want that jam right.
So ultimately, I mean it's interesting, you know, I was
mentioning this, this mock up room that I just was
with our client from Pureau and Wars and Royal Claw
a couple weeks ago, and we left there and you know,

with a list of maybe twenty things that we wanted
to do, and they all came out of the conversation
with him, right. It was you know, us saying, oh,
you gotta do this, you gotta do this, you gotta
do this. But it's more so, well let's try this,
and what do you think about, you know, shifting this
kind of kind of thing. It's there there, It's I
guess it's just probably a matter of the right project, right,
the right project for the right group. Adam. A lot

of the design work that you do is inspired by
the places where you travel. Can you tell us about
your process of how it works and how travel influences
your design just from a general stamp. Yeah, no, that's
a that's an interesting question because it's probably different for
each of the each of my partners in terms of
what they're paying attention to and how they're paying attention

to things. But I think we all probably share one commonality,
which is when we're traveling together or independently, we do
tend to try to see a wide range of things
that are happening in a city. So that's everything from
street vendors all the way up to luxury hotels to

just try to get a sense of get a temperature
for what what the range of expectation is in the city.
But it's also the range of what people are connecting to.
But a lot of times will end up will end
up trying to dive a bit deeper into the art
scene in a community, try to meet other artists or
other designers, which is probably also weird for for like,

a lot of times, I think designers and architects tend
not to want to meet other designers and architects, but
we're actually quite the opposite. We want to sort of
go to other people's studios and check out what's inspiring
them and try to understand a bit what's happening culturally
and contextually within a city, and what is it that
you've been noticing lately you personally, as you've been traveling,
Like what do you what do you find that you

keep going back to or that you keep seeing bubbling up?
A lot of a lot of the travel that I've
been doing recently has been throughout Europe, and so there
tends to be an interest in sort of figuring out
what is the the next iteration of our design present? Right,

Like this is kind of a dumb answer, but it's
it's harder to pinpoint than then. You know, people are
sort of seemingly wanting to get away from the current melu.
When it comes to art, for example, they're sort of
getting back to painting, but they're sort of throwing away
the recent kind of artistic past. Or if they're or

if they're furniture designers, they're wanting to figure out what
it is about the next form that they're making that's
going to become the current, the current kind of status quo.
Do you find people are looking forward? Do you find
people are looking back? I'm fascinated that Memphis is coming
back into style a though maybe that's over our Memphis.
The design craze from the eighties in Italy that was

just very Miami. Vice is how I think of that,
And I'm like, who I mean? And partly it's a
revival of a ton of eighties stuff, right, So are
you noticing that there are certain eras that we are
getting a cited about again of time? Or is it no? No,
let's move forward, let's do all new things. No, it's funny,

you know, it's I guess. I guess design is like fashion, right,
it sort of goes through these cycles. And currently there's
decidedly a seventies thing happening, right. I don't know if
you guys have been to the new Standard hotel that
just opened up in King's Cross in London. It's library
books everywhere. It's just and you can actually take the right.
It's really cute and the colors are super seven. There's

super seventies and it's sort of one of those projects
as well that there was just it was and again,
you know, it was driven early on by Ballahs and
I think Sean McPherson coming to the table was some
really great stuff and ultimately you feel it. You know,
you walk into one of those rooms and you feel
like you're a rock star in the nineteen seventies and
it's unabashed. And I think that's what one of the

things that we've been seeing from people who are really
trying to push agendas of what's next is being unabashed
and not trying to just kind of do some thing
that's a bit safe and fit in and that Yeah,
that that standard in London is a is a really great,
great project. Why are we so obsessed with a design? Why?

Mm hmm. Is it possible that we've always been obsessed
with design has just not been part of the conversation
for so long. I mean, if I think about, you know,
back in the twenties and thirties and forties, you know it,
this was something that was part of our common conversation.
You know, we were talking about why do we go
to hotels today? I mean, going to hotels is what

you did in the kind of early part of the
twentieth century. If you are going to go have a
kind of a night out or if you're going to
sort of have a meeting. I think we're returning to
maybe a sensibility that's maybe been underlying within within our
cultures for so long, and tools and technology have just
made it easier for everything to feel more democratic. Access right, Yeah,

I mean you guys mentioned earlier the pinterest of the
which is both great but also kind of um become
maybe the defamation of modern design thinking, right because people
can just quickly pull together pinchest boards and think that
that's a new idea. It's just redicating, right, and uh,

and it's it's a little bit. It's it's both liberating
and dangerous. So it's sort of just like any other drug.
You know, it's good in small doses. The world is
your oyster? What destination would you like to go after
sink your teeth into from a design standpoint, to go
do a project? And wow, I think that the one

thing that we haven't approached yet is any projects in Africa.
And I think we would like to try to have
an opportunity to travel a bit more to Africa and
to try to figure out what our design aesthetic and
what kind of project we would eventually make. And say, Kenya,
there's a lot of sort of development that's been happening

there and it's a place that I've probably wanted to
go to and give a go. Yeah, Rwanda, visit Rwanda.
Rwanda is doing a ton of development work in terms
of hospitality and the things that they're doing. And Gali
is this great, super exciting town. I haven't been and
it's absolutely at the top of my list of places
to go to. But it's a bit they've really done.

The president is amazing. I'd like him to come be
our president. Yeah. Yeah, and there you know, Rwanda's to
your point. Probably they've recently embarked on an incredible marketing
campaign and they're sort of trying to push tourism and yeah,
we we we nearly had a project in Rwanda earlier
this year and it didn't quite work out, but that
would be Yeah, I think that's that would be a

great frontier for us to kind of go into because
I think that there would be a lot for us
to learn about the sort of design and cultural past
to be able to sort of think about and be
inspired by. So here's a terrible question, Um, do you
have any favorite projects that you've worked on? And I
know that all your projects are your children and children
and you love all your babies, but do you have

any projects where you just feel like that was the
magic it came together, that the significance, the safety of
the surprise, the hospitable thinking, it was all Tristan's well,
I will it's that's a good one too, Bobby, and
I will say that there's probably one project that all
of us probably point to that does a pretty good
job of ticking the boxes, and that's Single Thread in

uh in Healsburg, which is a restaurant and small real
con that we did for Kyle and Katina, And I
think it comes from Kyle and Katina and Tony, like
the people that were behind the project, Tony Greenberg, and
it goes all the way through I mean the name
of the project, single Thread, it starts at the very beginning,
is one single thread that's woven throughout the entire project,

all the way through the farms that Katina looks after
in the and the animal husbandry that they're taking care of,
and and the and the experience that a guest goes
through in terms of being able to eat at the
at the restaurant, to the service style and connecting you
to the to the cooking methods in the style of
the chefs in so many different meaningful ways. That's that's

a probably pretty good one. Single Threat is a great one.
It has five or six rooms, how many? How many
doesn't has five rooms? So this is this place. It's
a Fathom favorite. We gave this an award as one
of the world's best foodie escapes. But it's right up there,
isn't it. I mean absolutely, we absolutely love Single Threat.
This is the restaurant where when you sit down at

the table, there are forty plates of a moose bush,
just assembled with moss and lichen. And it almost when
I when I show people photos of it, they think
I would be afraid to eat it. It's too pretty.
And then you're like yeah, but then you have one
fight and you're like, no, it's that's a really extraordinary project.
And what's interesting about that project is the way that
that blends the bounty of northern California and the farms

with a Japanese aesthetic and style. And you guys really
totally carry through down to the sponges in the amenity
kit in the bathrooms. Yeah, it's great. It goes it
goes deep. Yeah, that one goes deep. And the people,
you know, again, you know, our projects are our lives
and this is how we spend our time, and so
being able to spend time with people like like that

is it's kind of why you do the work. I
want to go be an Internet Africo. I've been saying
it for more than a decade. I want to come
be an intern desks there whenever you want to, probably so, Adam.
If listeners want to follow your work, what's the best
way for people to keep tabs on the many Africa
projects worldwide? Oh, I think you know, constantly tapping into
just the website is probably pretty easy, or just do

a quick search for Instagram feed. My partner Christina and
William tend to drive the boat on that and they're
constantly filling it not just with their own work, but
what inspires us. So that's a good way to kind
of keep track of our current thoughts and ideas. Thank
you so much for joining us today. Thank you for
having me Adam here' from you. It was great. Thank
you so much. Keep up the good work, keep making

the spaces that we want to be spending our time in.
Thank you, And that's our show. Thanks for listening. If
you like what you heard, please subscribe and you know,
leave us a five star review. Oh Wait Ago is
a production of I Heart Radio and Fathom. You can
find the details we talked about in the show notes
and on our website fathom away dot com. Don't forget
to sign up for our newsletter. When you're there. You

can get in touch with us anytime at podcast at
fathom away dot com and follow us on all social
media at at fathom Way to Go, Please teg your
best travel photos hashtag travel with Fathom. If you want
to really go deep on the travel inspiration, pick up
a copy of our book, Travel Anywhere and avoid being
a tourist. I'm Jarrelyn Gerba and I'm Pavio Rosatti, and
we'd like to thank our producer, editor and mixer Marcy

to Peanut and our executive producer, Christopher Hasiotis. For more
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