Last week, as freshly minted managing editor of Hospitality Design magazine, I ventured to Miami for my first-ever HD Boutique. On the show floor I not only found refuge from the assaulting humidity outside, but the booths of over 400 exhibitors flaunting the likes of dangling chandeliers, seductive dark wood chairs, and sleek tiles I longed for my own apartment to be filled with. No such luck. But as a consolation prize, I collected a tote bag, leather coaster samples, and most importantly, numerous business cards of new colleagues I look forward to getting to know better.
The vibe during my two action-packed days at the Miami Convention Center was upbeat. In between placing orders and networking, attendees made sure to visit Pacific Coast Contract Lighting’s alluring faux Candyland, pop into Tiger Imports’ pulsating “nightclub,” or peep at alligators in the Boutique & Lifestyle Lodging Association pavilion.
Walking the floor was, of course, only part of the essential action. A candid conversation with keynote speaker Tony Chi elicited inspiring design insights and childhood memories; a panel discussion identified the plentiful-but-challenging-to-snag design opportunities in Latin America; and this year’s ambitious Wave of the Future honorees mingled with past winners who continue to raise the bar over mimosas.
Equally crucial to the show’s success, of course, is the artful backdrop of Miami. The packed opening night party at the whimsical Mondrian and the showpiece pool and cabanas on display at the W South Beach the next evening confirmed for me why fostering a sense of place is so crucial to hospitality. –Alia Akkam