Sunday, June 20, 2010
Yes, Great Design and Attitude Can Co-Exist
This past week in Chicago I stayed at a new (to me) hotel, Dana (not "the" Dana or "Hotel" Dana, just Dana), and as anyone who has seen my Facebook posts knows, I am absolutely smitten with this place. I've Yelped about it and written my praise directly to the hotel. Why? Because this place manages to pull off great design, a modern vibe, delicious comfort, and superb service.
Often it has been my experience that hip, modern, uber-designed hotels also come replete with attitude. I refer to these hotels as "homes of the terminally hip", places where you are ignored for as long as possible if you don't seem cool enough, and where there always seems to be some sort of secret handshake that I don't know. Think the Ian Schrager hotels, where it's impossible to use a sink without splashing all over the beautiful tiny bathrooms. Think So-Ho not-so Grand and the imperious reception staff. But not Dana. Dana was just right.
The entire visual experience was stimulating and well curated, from the giant mosaic behind the reception desk to the undulating carved and sculpted walls. While all of this might have been overwhelming, the friendliness of the staff acted as a counterpoint to the supreme visuals. Everyone - EVERYONE - was extremely friendly and outgoing, hip and helpful. This was much like the experience a friend and I had a few months ago at the Black Cat Bistro in Boulder, where the outstanding food was accompanied by a consistently attentive, knowledgeable and friendly staff. We learned at Black Cat that the chef-owner actually Myers-Briggs types all potential hires, and only hires people he likes, with less regard to their experience and more regard to their personality. It made me wonder if a similar hiring practice is employed at Dana as well.
However they make it happen at Dana, my hat goes off to them. Businesses like this fuel my optimism and belief that great design can - and should - co-exist with great social behavior.