25th November , 2018

Olga Polizzi speaks at BIID Conference

Olga Polizzi started her career as an interior designer with her grandfather’s company, Forte Hotels, some time ago. It would be ungentlemanly to be too specific about dates but suffice to say, she is now considered as one of the industry’s elder statespersons.

Olga Polizzi (left) with BIID President, Gilly Craft

I interviewed her in the early days of GS Magazine, fifteen years ago, and attended her talk at this year’s BIID Conference, two weeks ago. Her attitude to design hasn’t changed at all. She still hates in-room technology, doesn’t care for gimmicks, loves design detail and (still)firmly believes in hotels that deliver a sense of place. In fact Olga was one of the first designers to re-introduce “sense of place” as a concept when she began working on the hotels in her brother’s (Rocco Forte) newly formed company. This followed decades of identikit design, where big brand hotels looked the same wherever they were.

Thankfully “sense of place” has been adopted by virtually all hospitality designers now so most hotels are about their locale, designed to celebrate individualism and to reflect their location.

It was interesting to note that a vast majority of attendees at the BIID Conference were young designers, full of new ideas and inspiration, ready to change the world. And yet they packed the seminar theatre eager to listen to someone whose ideas about interior designer haven’t changed much in decades. I think it’s the wisdom and the experience they were after. And Olga gave plenty, leaving us all with much to think about and all, perhaps, a little wiser.