Jessica Morrison, Senior Designer & Project Manager, GA Design
SPACE Editor Can Faik talks with Jessica Morrison, Senior Designer & Project Manager for GA Design…
Tell me about your role at GA Design
At the G.A Group we are privileged to work on a broad range of hospitality projects around the globe. As a Senior Designer/Project Manager I can be testing a mock-up room concept on a VR headset one day, to selecting stone slabs in Italy the next. On a more day-to-day level, my role is the client contact and managing a team to produce comprehensive drawing packages, which is ultimately what the client is ‘buying’ and constructing, so they have to be spot on.
What projects are you currently working on?
At the moment the Belmond Cadogan Hotel is just wrapping up – it opened in February and we are just finishing off the top two floors after five years on the project; a real labour of love. The Corinthia Hotel Brussels is just about to start on site so that will be picking up again for me soon, and I have a boutique hotel in Bucharest that is in the drawing phase now. My most recent project is a contemporary luxury hotel in Mayfair that is in the early concept stages – but this one is under wraps for now!
What has been the highlight of your career so far? There is always a huge sense of achievement when your hotel project opens. Each one takes a lot of care and attention and you feel like you’re involved in something very special. I’m not sure you can choose a favourite… The best is always yet to come.
How important is the journey when it comes to designing a hotel?
Hotel design can be an easy process when you can have a clear vision of how it should look from the outset, but others are a more ‘difficult birth’! My current London project is an example of a trickier journey as the client and operator have quite different views on what luxury is and how it fits with their brand, but we have now firmed-up the concept for the mock-up room and I believe the hotel will be all the better for the late night debates and multitude of sketches!
The Corinthia Hotel Brussels that is just a starting on site is a result of lots of effort and trips to Brussels, but the love and attention will be visible in the end result. As an existing listed building with a huge variety of guestroom layouts there is always added complexity, but the guest benefits from the uniqueness of the building and it’s a pleasure to be part of.
How important are public spaces to you? Creating spaces where people can share special moments and make memories is incredibly rewarding. Public spaces act as a stage for new stories and a central part of this is designing spaces that people feel comfortable and at ease in. Guests need to be able to form their own experiences and adding a sense of fun and informality helps people to use the space as they wish.
Number of meetings attended each week?
My weeks vary a great deal, but internally there are weekly project meetings and we try to get suppliers to come into our studio as much as possible so that the entire team benefits from touching fabrics and finishes and hearing about new products first-hand.
I travel quite a lot for my ongoing projects, with monthly meetings or presentations for each. Travel is one of my favourite aspects of our industry, as seeing new things and experiencing different cultures is a great source of inspiration. For example, going to Bucharest regularly, I now understand how the most successful restaurants in this city change a huge amount throughout the day and can turn from an elegant restaurant at dinner into vibrant bar with DJ – this local insight then informs the design.
What projects do you hope to be working on in the future?
Aside from a contemporary destination spa in Las Vegas many years ago, I personally haven’t worked much yet in America so this would be an exciting prospect. Hospitality is of course a huge business there, but the British approach to design and detailing is quite different and we could bring a more European, layered approach to the market. Chicago, Miami, New York… all would be incredible.
What would be your dream project?
The dream project for me is about the relationships you form and the people you work with. A supportive and enthusiastic client that’s willing to try new things; a determined consultant team happy to go the extra mile; all these factors coming together to create something special – those are the dream projects. Plus, there’s lots of fun to be had along the way.