Malcolm Berg, is the founder of EoA, a Miami based hospitality design firm. His company focuses on properties within the upper end of the industry, putting him and his team into a unique position to constantly develop ‘wow’ worthy concepts.
For furnishings, Berg said nearly everything his firm creates is custom. That complicates the process, while increasing the need for a strong partner who can execute custom furniture for hospitality. “Everything we do is customized and bespoke, but it is very difficult to do. Samuelson is critical to bringing those designs to life,” says Berg.
We recently spoke with Berg about why the company is so fixated on custom work and how they can handle so many custom projects. We also learned how Samuelson works with EoA to create finished products that not only impress the guests, but are stylish and durable, while providing a strong ROI for the hotel owner.
Be warned: Secrets revealed below.
Why is there such an emphasis on custom furniture for hotels?
“Everyone wants something original. The world is flat these days, a customer can see a project in Helsinki on a smartphone as fast as looking at a Marriott down the street. That has forced everyone to up the ante with hotel design. Plus, a plethora of lifestyle brands keep coming online because every company has a lifestyle version under their umbrella.
The last thing they want for those properties is to create cookie cutter designs over and over. Consumers are looking for the latest and greatest in design, graphics, fashion, and every other element they interact with.”
How do you negotiate this new reality?
“We provide architecture and interior design that’s ahead of the curve. We think about where things will go, because if you follow current trends you wind up awash in a sea of sameness.”
“Samuelson is a company that also likes to stay ahead of the curve. The brunt of the work is concepting, having a holistic concept that drills down. It’s not just about the style of the furniture, it’s about look, feel and durability. They must ensure the wood grain and the finish is the same consistently from one piece of furniture to the next, for example. “
What is the customized product development process like with Samuelson?
“After we concept the pieces and the brand and owner approve, we go into specification. We write out exactly what we want it to look like and figure out size, shape and finishing through CAD drawings.
Then Samuelson will go provide shop drawings. We review, make notes and modify if necessary, and then it goes back to Samuelson.
We are in Florida, and Samuelson is in New Jersey, so they manufacture away from our location. For us to get a feel for the piece from the outside is difficult. Samuelson will produce a ‘white version’ of the product, simply a frame and/ or muslin upholstery over the piece to show what it will look like. Then they run it through the durability ringer. We’ve asked them to stand on tables and rock back and forth. Sometimes it gets comical at times with three or four guys showing durability at once. Samuelson is a big believer in craftsmanship and durability.
Also, I cannot be at factories in remote locations to check product myself, so I depend on them. Samuelson is a team player able to discern how to best make products that remain as durable as possible. They are under the gun to provide the right product, at the right price, at the right time. “
How long do custom pieces take to deliver?
“Of course, it depends on the project schedule, but it generally takes 12-16 weeks from inception to completion.
We have a very good relationship with Samuelson and they are always there for us. We take this relationship very seriously. For it to succeed you must have communication, that is the key to this business. Samuelson is very good at staying in touch with us, and keeping communication wide open. “
How do you know if a project was successful?
“It’s all about ROI. When a client gets a product that doesn’t break when the warranty is over, it’s money in the bank. Owners will get extra years out of the piece, rather than pay again for cheaper products. That is where the ROI falls into place. It must last from a design standpoint, material standpoint and have physical durability to last.”
What does Samuelson bring to the product development process?
“We may do the design, but we cannot put the pieces together without Samuelson. The means and the methods are up to them, we only create design intent. They will say if a piece needs a stretcher or thicker leg, for example. Samuelson makes sure the design is lifespan worthy, and they do that quite well.
Any vendor just replicating a napkin sketch or drawing is not really doing us a service. Samuelson provides expertise to make sure we do not get into trouble. They provide valuable feedback and understand how to create the custom furniture designs we make. If a leg needs to be a specific wood or a metal type, they tell us.
They also manage tracking forms and timeline development. Plus, I appreciate the quality of the product they provide, which makes our life easier at EoA. Samuelson keeps us out of trouble. That is, my company and the hotel owners we partner with.
They are a great group of people and I love the family business aspect of Samuelson because everyone looks out for each other. They are good people and are in for the project duration. They are not in it to make quick money. Also, Samuelson is living a legacy and I appreciate it. We are in a long term relationship, and they appreciate us much as we appreciate them.”