Independent hospitality collective launches: The Society
The Portland Business Tribune
by Jules Rogers
Hospitality and leisure markets demand dedicated designers
Luxury, exclusivity, creativity and mischief are what The Society intends to convey in its upcoming designs, which will be solely in the leisure and hospitality market.
The Society is an independent hospitality design collective, launched in September. It will focus exclusively on creating bold experiences for developers of unique and innovative hotels, resorts and restaurants with a team of interior designers, brand strategists and architects in Seattle and Portland, working on projects across the nation.
By focusing solely on hospitality, The Society aims for new frontiers in the leisure sector, to serve as a curator of forward-looking ideas that influence future designs.
The market for leisure
“The hospitality market has been heating up, especially on the West Coast, and especially with really unique hotels going up in urban areas, in mixed use developments, and in renovated buildings with character and a sense of place,” said Karen Bowery. “The Pacific Northwest has long been known as a design leader, and our deep experience here certainly makes us attractive to hoteliers across the country.”
Karen Bowery will lead The Society as Duchess of Mischief. She said its strength lies in the breadth and depth of the individuals’ knowledge, voices and talents.
“Our aim is to become part of a select group of hospitality designers that can help hoteliers and restaurateurs predict the experiences their guests want and design them in truly compelling and authentic ways,” Bowery said. “Since our foundation is so strong, we’re able to really experiment, push the boundaries of design and spend more time leading the market, not reacting to it. We want to design to what we call the fifth dimension, that is creating experiences and captivating the senses in a way that goes well beyond the 3D construct of width, length and height.”
Bowery said because Portland is recognized as a great city with unique style around the world, that makes it a great place to live and a highly desirable location, which contributed to creating the market for The Society.
“We’re the perfect partner for hoteliers who want their Portland properties to capture the essence of the city in their own way, and that will accentuate the creative and independent vibe the city is already known for,” Bowery said.
“Hoteliers want more than interior design; they want their consultants to be stylists, experience curators, and set designers, and to create shareable moments for their guests — the market wants it, and we’re bringing it. That’s the game changer.”
The collective brand
The Society is a 10-person team of interior designers, brand strategists and architects dedicated to hospitality.
“One of the unique elements of The Society is what we call ‘the collective,’ and that was the driving force behind the brand,” said Bowery. “We were very intentional about creating this collective, as it’s something different than what you see with a number of boutique firms that rely on a central person at the top.”
She said the team members live and breathe hospitality, it’s not just a nine-to-five job. Together, the collective is bold, ambitious and curious about societal trends.
“There’s also something very playful about the brand: the name implies a certain exclusivity but the tone captures the creatively mischievous personalities of each individual,” Bowery said. “We wanted to say we’re doing something different in a way that invites others to join in on the movement.”
Already, The Society is working on projects up and down the West Coast from San Diego to San Francisco to Seattle.
“They’re all really unique properties with hoteliers who value creativity and using their hotels to create memorable experiences for their guest,” Bowery said. “That’s where we want to play and where we’ll do industry-leading work.”