Inspirationist exclusive: Q&A with Vince Stroop, Principal at Stonehill & Taylor

Vince Stroop joined Stonehill & Taylor as Principal in 2015, bringing with him over 20 years of experience leading the design of prominent public and private spaces, including hotels, libraries, luxury residences, wineries, and restaurants. He specializes in hospitality in New York, and has worked in emerging destinations such as the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Hong Kong and Macau.

His projects include work for prominent hospitality brands like Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, Intercontinental Hotels, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, Marriott International, MGM Resorts International, Kerzner International Resorts, and Las Vegas Sands Corp. He believes that design is a highly interactive and collaborative process; the best projects are those that embrace a team approach to every challenge. His work extends beyond the art and science of architecture, and includes diverse interests such as urban planning, graphic identity, website design, and education, having served as studio instructor at the School of Architecture at Woodbury University.

Previously, Mr. Stroop led architecture and interiors as Principal at BBG-BBGM, and was Studio Leader at Jeffrey Beers International. As Partner of a squared, a multidisciplinary design studio, he cultivated his curiosity and passion for craftsmanship into an award-winning contemporary design practice.

He will be participating in the panel “Fear and Love in Hotel Design” at Sleep – The Hotel Design Event taking place this year on 22-23 November at The Business Design Centre in London. We caught up with Mr. Stroop ahead of the event to find out more about the topic of his panel, his most exciting project and how he inherited his love of architecture from his family.

I realized that it was better to spend time pursuing my original passion for design and not the dollar.

INSPIRATIONIST: Where are you from and where do you live now?

VINCE STROOP: I am from Seattle, work in Manhattan and live in Brooklyn.

Courtesy of InterContinental New York Barclay

I: What’s your background?

V.S.: I have been practicing architecture for the last 20+ years. It is a career that I switched to early on, after a brief stint as a financial analyst for a large Fortune 500 company, when I realized that it was better to spend time pursuing my original passion for design and not the dollar.

I had my own small design studio in California for 10 years that I created with colleagues from university and left there in 2007 to come to New York, an event that happened by accident. I am currently a  partner of a 100 person architecture and interior design studio based in New York and I have worked on a variety of hospitality projects all over the world including the Middle East, Hong Kong, Russia and now most recently London.

© Nikolas Koenig

I: How did you fall in love with design and why?

V.S.: I think part of it is genetic…My grandfather ran a small construction and cabinet making company and my father is a retired structural engineer. They were always drawing and building things. Because of this, my younger brother (also an architect) and I used to spend hours in the basement of our family home building our own cities with lego or models using cardboard, wood scraps and as well as suspensions bridges with “hot wheels tracks”. As I got older I would spend a lot of time photographing and sketching buildings and landscapes or helping friends pick paint color and furniture.

© Nikolas Koenig

I: Where do you spend most of your time, and what does a typical day for you entail?

V.S.: I usually start with an early morning run across the Brooklyn bridge and back before heading to the studio, a place where I spend most of my time…or wait…is it an airplane? I travel a lot for both work and play.

© Nikolas Koenig

I: What is your favourite part of your job?

V.S.: The constant opportunity to learn, grow and interact with so many different people for a variety of reasons in a host of global locations.

© Nikolas Koenig

Hotels are an excellent laboratory for applying my experiences as well a venue to learn new ways of doing things.

I: Can you describe an evolution in your work from when you began until today?

V.S.: Throughout my career I have worked on a variety of project types: libraries, churches, wineries and different levels of residential design. I have always enjoyed the variations in “scale” of these typologies, in particular the public versus private aspect and the role they play within a community. For the past 10 years I have been working in hospitality design within heavily urban centers. Because of their dynamic and constantly changing nature, hotels are an excellent laboratory for applying my experiences as well a venue to learn new ways of doing things.

© Nikolas Koenig

I: If you had to choose one single designer/architect who has provided a source of inspiration for you personally – who would it be and why?

V.S.: At the moment I enjoy the work of David Adjaye, it is modern and fresh, but not too futuristic. The work is contextual and I find his use of materiality to be very sophisticated.

© Nikolas Koenig

I: Do you have a favourite design object, project or space?

V.S.: I have so many favorites, but the Seattle Public Library designed by Rem Koolhaus is high on the list. This public building beautifully engages with its context and invites the outside in. It is also a great example of interactive community spaces where the users are the art in a museum-like, yet approachable atmosphere.

© Nikolas Koenig

I: Which of your projects is your personal favourite and why?

V.S.: I am currently working on a 45 story new build, mixed use project that is planned for a site adjacent to Shoreditch in London. We are developing the interior architecture for the hotel and luxury residential component of the project and what is most exciting about it, is that I am participating in the rebranding and reimaging for the ethos of this traditionally conservative hotel group. We have license to think more modern and are using “experience-based” and “ locally-driven” ideals to create a narrative and road map for the design.

© Nikolas Koenig

I believe recent world events such as “Brexit“ and now the latest US election results, are largely the result of “fear of the unknown“.

I: You will participate at Sleep this year on the panel “Fear and Love in Hotel Design”. Can you elaborate a bit on what this theme focuses on and what inspired it?

V.S.: I believe recent world events such as “Brexit“ and now the latest US election results, are largely the result of “fear of the unknown“. Uncertain economic and social conditions are always a major concern within society and this is certainly true within the hospitality industry. Over the past two decades, we have experienced an unprecedented number of threats to slow our growth and discourage travel – whether through acts of terrorism and violence, or collapse of financial markets.

To me, travel has always been a way to gain exposure to other cultures and different ways of thinking.   And while we don’t always have the time or funds to “get out of town”, having someplace in our communities where you can go to engage with others socially is key.

That is where I think hotel design plays an important role. As architects and designers, we have the ability to create places that embrace cultural differences, encourage curiosity and help break down barriers. It is also critical that these places are affordable and are experienced-based. I am optimistic that as the fear of the unknown erodes, our love for learning about and supporting others will grow.

Courtesy of InterContinental New York Barclay

As architects and designers, we have the ability to create places that embrace cultural differences, encourage curiosity and help break down barriers.

I: How do you unwind?

V.S.: Listening to a good playlist while running across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Courtesy of InterContinental New York Barclay

I: What kind of music are you listening to at the moment?

V.S.: Right now I’m going a little old school with the likes of  The English Beat, Elvis Costello and/or some Bebel Gilberto.

Courtesy of InterContinental New York Barclay

I: What is your favourite colour?

V.S.: Navy Blue

Courtesy of InterContinental New York Barclay

 

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