Our design team hit the ground running on this one! An untimely change in project resources meant that our client was left without a designer and a fast-paced project timeline! Our design team jumped in and crafted an enlivened interior concept focusing on the area’s historic roots and the client’s vision of a high-end boutique experience.
This area in Sister Bay, WI is known for the beauty of its natural landscape and connection to an expansive shoreline. Long-time residents & visitors alike have come to deeply appreciate the weaving hiking paths, sprawling orchards, restaurant & bar corridors alongside the shopping & arts districts. All of which make it an incredible location for a stay at this year-round boutique hotel!
Door County is also home to an exquisite Scandinavian heritage, which became a main concept driver for the design of the DoRR Hotel. Our design process began with the concept of ‘hygge’ – a Danish term focusing on the idea of “coziness” or invoking the feeling of deep contentment & well-being. We did this through the lighter color palette and bringing in warm finishes and elements.
Beginning with entry into the lobby spaces, guests are greeted by a premier, on-site, guests service team stationed behind marble-look stone and rustic wood features. The atmosphere is equally homey and sophisticated – ensuring guests feel invited to gather around for a drink, snack, or even to play a board game at the various seating styles & arrangements. The furniture throughout the project was selected and designed to be the perfect blend of Scandinavian minimalism and mid-century modern. Rich and warm accent colors pocketed within an airy and natural palette.
The brighter, lightly finished, wood tones are contrasted by blackened metal accents and luxe plaster-work, both bringing forth deeper colorways. Soft seating is wrapped in distressed leathers, beige twills and deep, moody, blue and green tones. A fire-wood installation adds warms and definition, while drawing your eye up to the natural cedar beams above.
The DoRR Hotel houses 47 well-appointed guestrooms highlight the gorgeous views within light and airy spaces, allowing guests to relax and unwind in. All guest rooms feature white shiplap walls, herringbone flooring and custom white oak and leather furnishings. Eight of the guestrooms take the form of unique suite-style spaces featuring unique floor plans, bay-facing balcony views, high-end furnishings and thoughtful in-room amenities.
Guests of the suites are invited to cozy up alongside the linear electric fireplaces, watch the sunset on the outdoor terrace or unwind with cup of tea from the custom-crafted navy blue shaker-style kitchenette space.
Both the guestroom and lobby spaces share a design that is centered around the ideas crucial to the Danish concept of hygge. With furniture & materials that embody a sense of elevated comfort, warmth and conversation. The multifunctional lounge spaces throughout the lobby floors, alongside the unique suites and guestrooms, ensure that each stay provides a new experience!
General Contractor: Bayland Buildings Inc.
Photographer: Ballogg Photography
To read more about the DoRR Hotel project, check out our Case Study here!Meet the Team: Nathan Kiecker
Welcome to another edition of Meet the Team! This month, we would like you to meet Nathan Kiecker. Nathan is an Architectural Designer and has been a part of the Aria Group team since 2019. Recently, Nathan’s focus has been on several Shake Shack projects around the U.S. and his technical talents have been instrumental to several other sports entertainment venues like Topgolf and the Henrico Sports Complex. Rounding out his hospitality experience, Nathan is also on the team that designed three new food & beverage spaces within Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. Continue reading to learn more about Nathan!
What project are you most proud of since being at Aria Group? That would be my first project ever: Shake Shack San Francisco Centre. It was a small interior buildout in the Westfield Mall but it taught me the detailed intricacies that smaller projects require when designing in an existing space. I would liken it to mastering a game of Tetris. Being a part of the process was definitely very rewarding specifically in detailing and coordinating an angular design.
Where did you grow up? I grew up, and still live, in Berwyn, Illinois. Berwyn is 10 minutes south of Oak Park where Aria is located so I have been familiar with the area and surroundings all my life. It is really nice being close by our office.
What did you want to be when you grew up and why? Since childhood, I have always wanted to be an architect. It may sound cliché, but being introduced and experiencing Frank Lloyd Wright’s residential work along with his home and studio—just minutes from my own home—was very influential. I took that direction and passion and have built my career toward that goal.
How many siblings do you have and are they anything like you? I have two older sisters Nicole (the oldest) and Nora (Middle) which makes me the baby. A fun fact is our names start with the letter N, and I would say all three of us have design-orientated minds as do our parents, who are both graphic designers. We all followed in their footsteps.
Nathan and his two older sisters all followed in their parents footsteps with design oriented careers.
What is something you get overly competitive about and why? Anything sports-related, definitely golf. If I wanted to be completely honest though, I’m competitive when it comes to anything that involves two individuals and an end goal of winning. Being competitive is a personal driver for me but when I’m working with my team – I want my team to be successful first and foremost.
Nathan is always ready for a competitive game of golf!
If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? Pasta! I have eaten it so much that now I can make my own sauce from scratch. It’s just one of those easy quick meals that can be made anytime.
What’s the last TV show you binge-watched? Ozark. Season 4, Part 1.
What’s your current favorite TV show? Peacemaker! If you have not seen, or heard of this, do yourself a huge favor and have a blast. Thank me later.
What is in the trunk of your car right now? My golf clubs. I’m always prepared for a round with the boys, weather permitting of course. But then again, that is what Topgolf is for!
What is something most people don’t know about you? I collect sneakers. #Sneakerhead. I have really stepped up my game in the last 5 years. I usually wear beaters during the winter, but when the weather warms up be on the lookout for the heat!
Do you have a favorite travel story? So this is not one of my best stories, but it’s definitely one I’ll always remember. When I was in college I decided to wait in line for the new iPhone (at the time it was the iPhone 6). In-store purchasing started at 6am on a Saturday morning at this particular mall which was roughly 15 miles away from college. I had the bright idea of biking there to be one of the first to purchase. So I left and headed out around 8pm the evening before. Since this part of Michigan did not have many sidewalks or street lights, I had to bike up and down hilly roads overnight holding a flashlight in one hand and cars racing past me. After 2 hours of biking I arrived. Following several cups of coffee at a nearby Denny’s, I headed over to the mall to jump in line. It was incredible how many people rushed in all at once—many of them serial early adopters who always flood Apple stores for the next upgrade. The experience was chaos! Pushing, shoving— pure CHAOS! Even an ambulance arrived to help with injuries. When I finally made it to the front of the line, I learned that I needed my parent to verify the account information. The crazy adventure was all for nothing. Ever since, I happily just order online!
Check out other editions of Meet the Team on our Blog!
Meet the Team: Catie Crutchfield
Welcome to another edition of Meet the Team! Catie joined Aria Group in August 2018 and has been a force to reckon with as she dabbles in various project types and clients. From Protein Bar, to Palmer House, and now working on a new casino project – Catie really has stretched her wings in her short tenure here. Outside of daily work, she also won an internal competition designing the entry feature wall at the our office and participated in the winning Stitch design team last year. Grabbed your attention? Read more about Catie below!
Catie presenting her winning design for the feature wall in our office & snuggling with her kitten Penny
What did you want to be when you grew up and why? I remember wanting to be a veterinarian for a while because I loved animals – I’m especially obsessed with cats. Then in high school I realized that math and sciences are really not my strong suit, but I had always loved the arts and been good at them. Since my junior year, I planned on pursuing interior design.
Do you have any pets? I have my beloved kitten Penny who is a domestic tortoiseshell shorthair cat – she is dark brown with a beautiful marbled coat of cream, black, and copper flecks (hence ‘Penny’). She’ll be a year old on May 31st. Something about her is a bit off – she walks a little wobbly, can’t jump or land on her paws very well, and tends to fall right over if you accidentally knock her. But I think this just adds to her charm.
Catie and her best friend’s matching tattoos
Do you have any tattoos? If so, of what? Ah, I was hoping you’d ask. If you’ve seen me in short sleeves lately you’ll know I have quite a few. It’s important to know that not all of my tattoos have a meaning behind them. I get tattoos for the artistic aspect – to be my own walking art display. However, I do have some that are more than just a picture. One I have is a counterpart with my best friend whom I grew up next door to – we each got the outlines of our houses on our arm. I have a portrait of my childhood cat Jack on my thigh, and a penny as a symbol for my more recently adopted kitten Penny. And I’ll share as a warning to all – I have a queen’s crown which was a matching tattoo with, yes, an ex-boyfriend. After we split I tattooed a snake slithering right through it!
What’s a talent that you wish you had, but don’t? I really wish I was able to sing at least somewhat decently. I am absolutely awful. I can’t even hum a tune well. Music and rhythm is not my strong suit. I dance very off-beat as well (but it doesn’t stop me from still dancing).
Catie and her childhood best friends still remain close and take in a Ben Gibbard concert early 2020.
Who is your favorite musician/musical group? Without a doubt, Death Cab for Cutie. While I am often poked fun at in the office for being a Jonas Brothers fan girl, I would forgo them for DCFC. I have seen them live 6 or 7 times. The last live show I attended right before Covid was Ben Gibbard solo at Thalia Hall. I went with my two best friends I’ve known since age 5 – we stood in the second row and it was absolutely amazing.
Catie and her older brother not only look alike, they also both love science fiction and gaming!
How many siblings do you have and are they anything like you? I have an older brother, Joe (I call him Joey), by 5 years. To my dismay, I am told I look a lot like him (especially when I don’t wear makeup). It’s a little worse now considering I have a “boy” haircut. I think we are alike in some of our interests and mannerisms. We both have creative brains (he is in the music and sound industry), but I like to think that I’m less stubborn!
What is something most people don’t know about you? It comes as a surprise to a lot of people that I’ve got a video game and sci-fi lover side to me. My older brother is a huge sci-fi and video game fanatic, so I grew up playing Game Boy, N64, GameCube – every Mario series game, to Kirby, to James Bond Goldeneye. Last year I bought a Nintendo Switch (it’s pink) and I nerd out on games like Animal Crossing and Super Mario Sunshine. I also love movies like Star Wars and Back to the Future – I’m always down for a good science fiction or time travel story.
Who is your dream dinner guest (past, present, or future) and why? It sounds cliché, but I genuinely would choose my maternal grandmother, affectionately called Nana – and Papa if I can get them as a package deal. I was pretty young when they passed, 13 and 7 respectively. While I do have so many fond memories of them both even being as young as I was, I always wish I could sit down and talk with them as an adult. As a child you don’t have the capacity to understand your grandparents lived a whole life before you knew them. I’d love to ask them so much that I never was mature enough to ask.
Stan’s: Where Donut & Coffee Lovers Meet
The annual RD+D Magazine Awards honor the best in restaurant design across seven categories. We are thrilled to announce that Stan’s Donuts & Coffee has been recognized in the Best New Prototype Category – Runner-Up. Check out the RD+D March/April 2021 issue here!
The first Stan’s Donuts was introduced to Chicago in 2014 after a friendship and partnership formed between Rich Labriola (of Labriola Baking Company) and Stan Berman (founder of the iconic Los Angeles donut shop that bears his name). Today, there are multiple locations of Stan’s Donuts & Coffee in the Chicagoland area that serve a vast array of freshly made donuts, delicious coffee, and whimsical experiences to a devoted community of donut lovers.
The client’s vision was to create a space where donut and coffee lovers unite in a comfortable atmosphere. His goal was to turn Stan’s Donuts into an enjoyable place to work or relax. The design team successfully achieved this goal by planning the space with a variety of flexible dining and counter height seats and an abundance of power outlets. A curved corner booth in Stan’s signature bubblegum pink color was designed for customers to cozy up, and has since turned into an iconic Instagram moment.
“I chose Aria for their attention to creativity and knowledge of how the restaurant business works. The design has to be able to be operable in an efficient and profitable manner. We achieved a great, usable design.” – Rich Labriola
The Stan’s Donuts & Coffee prototype design is as irresistible as their donuts and coffee. The atmosphere is chic, spacious, and refined. The design team maintained key branding elements including the bubblegum pink and sage green accent colors, the classic KitchenAid mixer wall display, and “COFFEE” marquee light. On the ceiling, walnut wood baffles radiate from the curved soffit along the front counter. Natural light pours through the wall-to-wall windows and spills onto the tabletops, dining chairs, counter seats, and plush lounge chairs – enticing customers to find their perfect spot. The walnut wood columns and marble front counter add a heightened level of elegance. Faux leather wallcovering is applied to the walls creating an air of maturity and retro ornamentation is reflected through brass details and individually lit cubbies. Overall, a variety of customer needs are met through the design and their sweet tooth is satisfied!
Our team for this project consisted of Frank Cavanaugh, Principal; Lillian Reyes-Brahar, Project Manager; Travis Vannoy, Project Coordinator; Trina Alsip, Senior Designer; and Arthur Ostrowki, Architectural Technician.
General Contractor: Kern Konstruction
Millworker: Studio Zoran
Custom Finishes: Paul Punke
Photographer: Tony SoluriReinventing the American Mall
North Star Mall Opening Day 1960 (Express News Archives)
Take a drive down the business highway in most mid-size towns, and odds are that you will inevitably pass by one of the great relics of a bygone era in American culture. The indoor mall was once the epicenter of shopping convenience and consumer capitalism in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. Check out this video of the Richfield Edina shopping mall from 1956 — a flashback to this era and one of the earliest malls in the United States. Southdale 1956 – Richfield Edina Shopping Mall
Today many indoor malls are in a state of suspended animation – a gawky, mammoth lying dormant as the pulse of shopping has run back to main street, lifestyle centers, and of course online retail. Many of the flagship brands that iconized the mall era have long since flown the coop for more lucrative pastures, and the bare bones of what remains – empty shops, food courts, theatres, arcades, plazas, and stalls – sit idly awaiting reinvention.
Photos of Mall exteriors (Abandoned Mall photos – Seph Lawless/Getty Images)
It doesn’t take too much digging to unearth why: simply put, the existing mall format does not meet the more holistic needs of today’s generation. This may be most notable when one compares the typical mall configuration, which relies almost entirely on the foot traffic generated by big-box stores, to the rising trend for more integrated lifestyle design, particularly the “live, work, shop, play” format. When you lump in the growing desire for walkability and sustainable urban design, it becomes very easy to scrutinize the visual, and often visceral, reaction that malls evoke; the far out, windowless behemoth sized complexes, which often float in a sea of parking lots, turn customers away through its lack of appeal and accommodation. In short, if indoor malls want to continue to be relevant, they must confront the changing epoch in front of them and seriously commit to an identity make over.
The paradox is that malls are well-practiced in reinventing themselves. New stores, kiosks, seasonal displays, and even small fast-food retailers flip in and out of plug-and-fill spaces all the time. This highlights one of the great silver-linings for malls looking to adapt: the archetype of mall spaces makes them extremely changeable by design. The more demanding work lies in integrating atypical programs to the standard mall framework, such as housing, entertainment, and recreation. At such a large scale, the role of the designers and architects in this realm cannot be understated; planners and developers must become skilled alchemists who balance the correct blend of programs and utilities to address the morphing needs of future dwellers and patrons, while also keeping costs and existing programs in check.
Case Study: Stratford Square Mall + Aria Group
At Aria Group, our team approached this endeavor by applying our knowledge and long standing history of experiential design and thinking about how we can alter the framework of malls to meet the needs of today. In particular, our team developed a number of proposed interventions for the Stratford Square Mall in Bloomingdale, IL, which like many malls has shared in the saga of continual decline in recent years. Regarding the strategy for revitalization, Principal Frank Cavanaugh wrote, “ the key strategy we see in giving new life to malls is turning them inside out. Carving out and demolishing underutilized gross leasable area (GLA) to create more elevated exterior tenant visibility and enhanced guest experiences”.
Proposed Plan Concept- Southwest Entry, Stratford Square Mall
This includes introducing lively restaurant concepts that perforate the building’s envelope, especially where they might enrichen existing mall entrances, and adding a mix of other lifestyle businesses like spas, health clubs, grocers, and medical offices. Similarly, exterior spaces and parking lots can be converted to event lawns, seasonal skating rinks, beer gardens, and other mixable entertainment spaces to bring more meaningful and attractive entertainment to the surface of the mall.
Stratford Square Mall Southwest Entry – Before & After
The mission to diversify the mall’s retail base goes beyond just a facelift however. The proposition also includes the potential to infuse multi-unit residential and office spaces into the existing complex, turning the typical weekend shopping center into a vibrant community of workers and neighbors. This contemporary pairing of program is akin to the complexion of the traditional town center, where shopping is just an element in the macro-experience of everyday life. In fact, it is precisely the varied assortment of experiences that we believe will make Stratford Square such a desirable place to live, and bring patrons back to visit time and time again.
Stratford Square Mall – Medical & Residential Site Plan Studies
To investigate the potential design possibilities in more depth, Aria Group also conducted a case study of a revival of the Charlestown Mall in St. Charles, Illinois. Check out our next post where we share our exploration into the merger of programs and the spatial opportunities that could re-define the future of America’s malls.
Quarantine 2020 Wrapped
It is crazy to think it’s been over a year since the pandemic began and almost a year since our office started working remote. So much has happened. It has been the longest year, but also feels like it has flown by. As we dive into this new year and look forward to getting back to normal thanks to the vaccine, we asked our team to take a look back. They shared what they discovered about themselves while working remote, what they cooked, and, most important, what they watched on TV while stuck indoors! We all learned so much about ourselves and spent quality time with our families and close friends (if in our quarantine bubble) — many of us really slowed down and spent our time very differently than in years past. We are very much looking forward to what 2021 brings and finally getting to enjoy dinner indoors at a restaurant — with our coworkers and clients. Hope to see you soon and give you a big hug rather than just a mental hug! Check out more of what our team said here.
Our team is the soul of Aria Group and key to our success and growth as a company. Martika is a great example of one of our team members that has grown within Aria through her great work ethic and dedication to her projects and clients. Martika began at Aria in 2013 as a design librarian, where she was able to become familiar with the products and reps we work with and get her feet wet on interior design projects. She was a natural fit at Aria and joined full time upon completing her interior design degree at Columbia College. Now, fast forward 7 years – Martika is an experienced designer and finding herself taking on a significant design role on many projects.
Martika can be counted on to volunteer for the office outside of her daily work. She works with our wellness committee and dominated the runway as the model for our entry to the IIDA Stitch Competition, where our team took home Best of Show honors in 2020. “We partnered with Mapei and Ceramic Technics,” Martika recalls by saying, “we were all so proud of our accomplishment and that’s why it stands out so much!”
But there is more to this Fierce competitor and dedicated team member. To learn more about Martika and her personal interests, read on below!
What is something you get overly competitive about? Everything. Just kidding, I am very competitive in my health and fitness goals. When I am not signed up for a race, I am often joining a fitness/wellness challenge organized by influencers that inspire me. I feel if you have a passion, surround yourself with likeminded people and follow likeminded content. It’s amazing how a little bit of shared passion fuels you further.
What was your first job? dELiA*s “fashion representative” – we had to answer the phone with a bubbly line “We’re having a great day at dELiA*s!” and offer up a compliment to everyone that walked through those doors. The walls were bursting of graphic tees and quirky patterns. I can safely say I worked there for the discount and can thank them for my bubbly demeanor.
What’s a secret talent that you have? During the holiday season and occasionally in the year, I sell beer bottle/can candles that I craft myself! The upcycled beer bottles are hand cut and sanded by me, tops of cans are opened by me as well. All candles are soy based with a cotton wick and scents are all essential oil based. I treat the candles like a choose your own adventure – pick your bottle/can & pick your scent. I’d say I am a beer connoisseur – one of my favorite podcasts is Good Beer Hunting. Every bottle & brewery has their own story – it makes me happy when I can share my passion with other people that appreciate it. I love beer so much – my husband and I got married at our first craft brew love – Revolution!
Do you have any pets? One dog – he’s a handful but we love him so much! His name is Ernie – Ernest or Ernnifer when he’s in trouble and Ern-bern when he’s a good boy. Ern is about to turn 6. He is a Staffordshire/Beagle/Pit-bull mix.
If you weren’t a designer, you would have been a? If I wasn’t a designer, I would like to picture myself as a successful entrepreneur! Maybe a mix of yoga instructor, craft brewer, local baker, and Etsy vibes? Oh! Maybe it’s a yoga studio connected to a bakery/brewery with my own little shop in front – One can only dream!
Who is your favorite artist? Kozmo – She’s Chicago’s Burger-Flower artist! You can spot her work throughout the city now, most commonly in Pilsen. Her work is so uplifting with her bright color selections and spunky content. What I love most about her is her toon inspiration! I love local artists and scoping out murals throughout the city!
What is your favorite ice cream flavor? Homemade ice cream is where it’s at! I love making the Cereal Milk ice cream recipe from the Momofuku Milk Bar book. I’ll often make it with cornflakes and occasionally with Lucky Charms. The Cheesecake ice cream is a dangerous one as well! Also, anything from Salt & Straw is amazing! Recently had their Thanksgiving Turkey flavor that was to drool for. Can you tell I love ice cream?!