Dan Mazzarini got his first taste of hospitality design while on a school field trip to New York when he and a friend snuck into the library of the Hudson Hotel to order a glass of wine. “From the moment I hit that acid green escalator, I was hooked,” he says of Philippe Starck’s interiors. “It felt experiential, like I was in the middle of something special.” Since founding BHDM six years ago, he’s harnessed that passion to craft a variety of projects, including the luxe Maxwell’s Chophouse in Manhattan (now closed), the innovative Lodgic Everyday Community hybrid space in Champaign, Illinois, and the neon-infused Shoreline Waikiki hotel in Hawaii.
The Chicago-born, Miami University of Ohio grad was first given a shot when an alum from his school offered him a position at Kramer Design Group in New York in 2003. His first solo account was for fashion powerhouse Michael Kors, who at the time was rolling out 1,500 new locations over the course of a year. “It was baptism by fire, and I loved it,” he says. “I remember the first time I walked into the space I designed—I knew this was it.” He would later join Ralph Lauren’s store design team for six years before a client encouraged him to start his own firm, which he did with former Kramer colleague Brian Humphrey (he’s the BH of the name, but has since left the company). That same client would later give BHDM its first hotel project: boutique gay hotel Lords South Beach, “a budget-driven project [that] we poured our all into making it something special. And it was—cheerful and distinctly branded.”
From two guys working in their apartment, BHDM has since opened offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles in addition to its New York headquarters, continuing to diversify its portfolio with residential and office interiors. Looking ahead, Mazzarini is excited about a few F&B spaces for Google, as well as the forthcoming Brian Paul Hotel in Nashville, which will boast a music venue, spa, and both residences and commercial space. They prove he’s right where he’s supposed to be. “Hospitality is transient and theatrical,” he says. “Storytelling spaces can be fantastical and idealized. It’s like designing people’s dreams. How fun is that?”