A native of northern New Jersey, Kerrie Murphy was appointed vice president of design at SH Hotels & Resorts in August 2022. Before that, she earned a bachelor’s degree in design and environmental analysis from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York and cut her teeth at Stonehill Taylor, Two Roads Hospitality, and Hyatt, where she became part of the company’s lifestyle design studio working on brands such as Thompson Hotels. It was this transition that took Murphy to the brand side of hospitality, which she has expanded on in her current role, where she has been integral in ushering the nature-driven hotel company into its next era.
When did you know you wanted to be a designer?
Kerrie Murphy: My mother is very creative and signed me up for art classes at a young age. From then on, I knew I wanted to do something in the arts. My parents [also] took me on a trip to Ireland when I was a teenager, and I remember loving the boutique hotel we stayed at in Limerick. The guestroom had a bold purple accent wall, which I found incredibly cool. That was the first time I was intrigued by hotel design.
What drew you to the hospitality world?
KM: I’ve always been fascinated by the interplay between design and human psychology and how successful design has been shown to have clear psychological impacts.
First work-related reality check?
KM: I remember being called out for something in a meeting in front of several people. It taught me to not take things so personally and to use the feedback constructively.
Project you are most proud of?
KM: Getting the opportunity to work for Thompson Hotels changed the direction of my career path over to the brand side, which brought me to where I am today. The Thompson Zihuatanejo in Mexico was a special project for me because I was given the opportunity to collaborate with the design team. I also worked with a vendor out of Mexico City who had access to incredible artisans throughout the country.
Most challenging project you have worked on?
KM: I am currently working on a property in Greece with a large scope and very complex site plan. Integrating the proper [back-of-house] support spaces has been a challenging yet satisfying puzzle.
Most rewarding part of the job?
KM: The opportunity to travel and work with different people and cultures.
What inspires you?
KM: Legendary designers of the past and mother nature—the greatest designer of them all.
How do you define success?
KM: Success is relative. If you achieve what you want to and are happy doing so, that is success.
Favorite place to travel to?
KM: Mexico because of its rich culture, amazing food (my favorite cuisine), and inspiring artisanal design.
Describe your design style?
KM: Midcentury masculine layered with nature-inspired elements.
KM: Margaritas and putting things into an online cart but never purchasing.
What can’t you live without?
KM: My ice roller and a down comforter.
Architect you admire?
KM: Peter Zumthor due to his skillful use of materials and bold monumental forms.
Best piece of advice you’ve been given?
KM: Always have conviction.