Designer Profile: D.B. Kim

Fashion, graphic and environmental design and architecture. D.B. Kim is somewhat of a Renaissance man in the world of design.  He has worked with hotel brands including W, Westin, Starwood Vacation Ownership for Westin and Sheraton and been named “Hospitality Design Guru” by Interior Design. In an interview with the Magazine, he explained his role.

“I focus on the audience, meaning our guests—how they eat, how they sleep, what they listen to, and everything in between. Then I set the guidelines and work with third-party designers to roll them out. I don’t look at trends, nor do I look at myself as a trendsetter. Instead, I find a better way to respond to the needs of travelers, from the low-tech to the high-tech.”

Unity Ring light pendant. Designed by D.B. Kim for Swarovski.

If you’ve slept on a ‘Heavenly Bed’ at the Westin, or taken to the trend of white-on-white beds, you have experienced the work of D.B. Kim who initiated this trend with his aesthetic design for the major hotel brand.  After redeveloping Westin’s image,  he moved on to become the Vice President of Design at the Sheraton Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, with their 400+ properties. From the design of the check-in area, to full-concept design of guestrooms (from each piece of furniture and lighting fixture to the guest bathroom ammenties) and drawing up botanical guidelines for flower arrangements, Kim has his hand in all of it.  “And it’s not all visual. It’s also emotional, and that extends to the staff. If we give employees a sense of belonging, that promotes better performance. Guests can feel the results.”  It’s true that a lot of hotel chains seem the same, “They’re very cookie-cutter,” he explains.  But Kim has working to differentiate his brand from the rest, first with Westin and now with Sheraton. “Westin is clearly about renewal and sensory experiences—a more meditative, introspective brand. For example, there’s a signature scent that evokes calmness. Sheraton is more about vitality, community, connectedness. It’s more extroverted. So we’ll play that up.”

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Unity Ring light pendant. Designed by D.B. Kim.

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Sheraton Toronto Hotel Lobby. Designed by D.B. Kim.

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Revitalization at pre-function area at Westin Hotel Dallas, TX . Designed by D.B. Kim.

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Revitalization concept for a resort room, Sheraton Hotels and Resorts. Designed by D.B. Kim.

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Standard Guestroom, Westin Resort in Fiji. Designed by D.B. Kim.

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Crystal Sliver. Designed by D.B. Kim for Holly Hunt.

Outside of the hospitality sector, Kim has worked with Waldo Fernandez, Holly Hunt, Gary Lee, Daniel DuBay, Douglas Levine, Perkins and Will on various concepts and designs.  Most recently, he collaborated with Swarovski to develop the Unity Ring light pendant design, “A modern interpretation of the conventional chandlier…streamlined and contained by a delicate and jewel-like circular ring. Kim previously designed the Crystal Sliver for Holly Hunt Ltd.  With LED light and Swarovski crystals, it was his entrée into Swarovski lighting. 

World Market Center officials hired D.B. Kim to design the upcoming InspireDesign hospitality and health care furnishings show, which will debut Feb. 1 to 3 in Las Vegas.  His concept will focus on inspiration, he stated in a press release.  “Succinctly, the show will be an option resource for the creators of our future environments,” said Kim. “I’ve seen some misdirected design shows in past years that have focused on sales and forgotten that these kinds of shows should inspire, educate and guide global design lovers.”

D.B. Kim will also be presenting at our 2nd Meetup on Thursday, October 8th, 6:30.

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