Born and raised in Los Angeles, Vedi Aslanyan decided to take the leap into the design industry, and she hasn’t looked back. With over a decade of combined experience working in hospitality and high-end residential design, Aslanyan studied interior design at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) in LA and started her hospitality career at sbe, where she managed design for the brand portfolio, including hotels, nightclubs, and restaurants. She is currently vice president of design and development for Dakota Development, a former subsidiary of sbe, where she oversees design for the Accor/Ennismore lifestyle hotel brands in North and Central America.
When did you know you wanted to be a designer?
Vedi Aslanyan: I’ve had a profound inclination for design at a young age. However, it wasn’t until my final year in high school that I envisioned this passion as a prospective career. [I was going to take a more] traditional route, pursuing a profession in medicine. It was the guaranteed path that would also meet my family’s expectations. It felt like a huge risk to take to potentially not find success.
What drew you to the hospitality world?
VA: I worked in high-end residential design for three years. While I enjoyed the projects, I had a desire to expand my expertise. This led me to accept a project-oriented position as a designer’s assistant on a Hilton project. The intention behind this move was to gain some hospitality experience without a substantial commitment. During that time, I discovered a genuine passion for the hospitality design industry. Once that job was over, I was confident I wanted to stay in hospitality.
What about your current role with Dakota Development excites you?
VA: When I started my journey in the hospitality industry, I was aware that due to my lack of experience, my growth opportunities would be limited. I started here as an intern and truly fell in love with the job. I was also fortunate to work with some exceptional people (most of whom I still work with today) who became mentors to me, believed in my potential, and challenged me daily. I was eager to learn more each day and never felt like I had reached my limit. I still don’t.
First work-related reality check?
VA: The first time I overlooked an error on drawings and nearly went through an entire production order was eye-opening. I realized how a minor mistake could have a significant impact on a project of such a large scale.
Most challenging part of the job?
VA: Ensuring the accuracy of your decisions. Design is inherently subjective. What I might consider the correct choice may not align with the perspective of others. Understanding the brands and locations of the projects plays an important role in the decision-making process.
VA: Crossing the finish line. Witnessing the fruition of projects I have spent months, or even years, working on is gratifying. Seeing properties come to life and the guests enjoying them is fulfilling.
How do you define success?
VA: Success to me is the ability to do what you love and loving what you do each day.
Favorite place to travel?
VA: While I have many favorite places, my favorite is when I travel home to Armenia. It’s the only place I travel with no plans and no reservations, and some of the best memories are from the spontaneity that comes out of it.
What do you collect?
VA: I keep every hotel room key card from all my travels. I created a collage with the cards and framed it. It’s not only a cool art piece but a great reminder of all the places I traveled.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
VA: French fries. If you know me, you know I will have fries anywhere, anytime. It’s hard to get it wrong, so it’s satisfying almost every time.
Space you love but didn’t design?
VA: There is a restaurant in Mexico City called Em. They also have a speakeasy above the restaurant called 686. Everything in both spaces is so simple yet so well done. Of course they have amazing food and drinks, but I go there for the space.
Do you have a dream project?
VA: If I had the chance to travel back in time, I would love to work on a project during the Gothic architecture era. Nowadays, we rarely get to work on projects with the same level of craftsmanship and meticulous detailing.
Best piece of advice you’ve been given?
VA: Don’t burn your bridges.