Good conversations have a habit of turning into great collaborations. This holds true for Barbara Parker and Miriam Torres, co-owners and principals of Parker-Torres Design Inc., an international interior design and interior architecture firm specializing in hospitality design.
Despite both having lived in Boston for nearly 20 years and working in the same field, Parker and Torres didn’t meet until an opportunity came about in 1997 to collaborate on Bentley, a five-star luxury hotel project in London. During the long international flight back from London to Massachusetts, the two connected over their past in interior hospitality design and visions for the future. When Parker’s firm closed in 2004, she saw it as a great opportunity to give Torres a call. A couple of months later, Parker-Torres Design was born in Sudbury, Mass.
Transforming Hospitality Design
“We originally started working out of my house,” Torres said when reflecting on her and Parker first getting their start. The two opened their firm in Sudbury due to their long-standing roots in Massachusetts.
They first started working on suites at a local Marriott before their portfolio quickly expanded to projects across the country. Now, the firm’s client base is comprised of hoteliers, independent owners, commercial properties, and private property owners from around the world. While the majority of their projects are hotels, the two have also worked on restaurants, casinos, conference centers, and country clubs.
Phoenician Resort and Spa
One of the most memorable projects the hospitality design duo recalls working on is the Phoenician Resort and Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz. Most of the projects that Parker-Torres Design studio accepts take an average of 10-20 months to complete depending on location and size. The Phoenician, however, took nearly three years from start to finish. One of the most dramatic transformations throughout the 35,000 square-foot space was the removal of the lobby’s central fountain--an eye-catching accessory that Torres claims is leaving many hospitality spaces.
“It has a really indigenous interior,” said Torres of the newly remodeled space, which features sculptures, artwork, and wide-spread views of Paradise Valley.
Other notable projects include the Denver Marriott Tech Center, Boston Park Plaza, Le Meridien San Francisco, InterContinental Washington D.C. - The Wharf, and Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club.
Le Meridien San Francisco aims to provide a feeling of modern European luxury.
InterContinental Washington D.C. – The Wharf blends contemporary style, class sophistication, and sustainable hospitality design throughout its 278 luxury guestrooms and suites.
Their busy schedules have them traveling often—Parker was only in her office six days during the month of May, and Torres a total of seven—but the two aren’t in a hurry to slow down anytime soon. They’re currently working on a conversion project in Atlanta. “A hotel wants to create a Southern hospitality vibe while remaining contemporary,” said Torres of the project. She went on to add that sweet tea would be a staple in the main lobby.
Changing the Past
When asked if they wished they had down anything different when starting their own firm, Parker and Torres happily agreed that no, they wouldn’t have changed a thing. Parker did mention that she slightly wishes they had brought on more help in the firm’s earlier stages; since its start, the company has undergone two expansions and now has 22 employees fully engaged in each project.
Paul’s Landing, a dining room at the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club, enhancesit’s menu with citrus, which has also been incorporated into the space’s interior hospitality design.
Just as their employees bring a range of talents do the table, so do Parker and Torres. “Miriam is the designer, where as I am more the architect,” said Parker of their relationship. She went on to add that Torres’ outgoing personality is a key factor in obtaining so many projects. While the two are different in many ways, both have the same mission: to provide quality customer service and good hospitality design. As Parker put it, “We couldn’t do it without each other.”