Interior Designer Maddie Lord on Shaping Orli’s “Deco-Meets-Modernism” Style
November 4, 2022
When Orli co-founders Hailey and Max approached Maddie Lord about designing the debut location of an entirely new hospitality concept, their chemistry sparked instantly. Beyond years of experience working with hospitality brands of all shapes and sizes, Maddie hails from right here in La Jolla, giving her a special connection to the project.
Orli presented an entirely new challenge; Maddie was to design and curate two amenity spaces and 13 distinct rooms, each with their own unique style, floor plan, furnishings, fixtures, and special touches, all within the logistical boundaries set by the building’s historical landmark status. The result is, well, peerless.
On the heels of its launch, Oril’s no-detail-spared design has earned the attention of top publications – including Robb Report, Forbes, Travel + Leisure, Modern Luxury Interiors, Hospitality Design, and more. Now, Maddie shares the inspiration behind the design of the new hospitality experience and gives us a glimpse into the path that led to this magic moment.
How did you come about teaming up with Orli, and what initially drew you in about working on this project?
I was fortunate to learn about Orli and get the opportunity to bid on the project in 2020. When Hailey and Max shared their vision for Orli, I felt that the project aligned perfectly with the ethos of my design firm. I grew up in La Jolla, so it was extra special to have the honor of working on a boutique hotel in my hometown – it added so much significance to each and every decision.
What inspired your design direction?
Since this is a historic site, it was extremely important to us that we incorporated as much influence from the architecture and local area as possible. We wanted the space to feel unique and unlike anything else, while simultaneously drawing influence from iconic Irving Gill and the local community of La Jolla.
How did you begin? What’s your first step in completely outfitting a property in a way that suits the brand?
We started off with concept imagery that ultimately became the inspiration for the interior finishes, furnishings, and fixtures for each room. This process helped us navigate how to incorporate recurring elements and unique items.
What was the inspiration behind each distinct room?
Each room is unique in its own way, but there’s also coordination among the room types. We created three distinct finish palettes for the rooms: one for the guestrooms, one for the suites, and one for the penthouse. Since Orli is a historical site, we had to work within the parameters of the existing architecture, which adds to the charm and exclusivity of each room.
What is your favorite space or room at Orli and why?
The lounge. I loved creating a space that really sets the tone for the guest experience. One of my favorite design elements in the lounge is the set of coordinating chandeliers. They are made of hand-blown glass in amber, blue, and smoke colors and are inspired by the iconic La Jolla tide pools. There is so much thought and significance woven through every little touch of the hotel — from the chandeliers to the custom railings — because we truly believe that each detail enhances and elevates the guest experience.
What challenges did you face during this design process and how did you overcome it?
One of the biggest challenges we faced was the supply chain shortages. We had a lot of delays and other issues that came up as a result of that, which was very frustrating, especially having important deadlines. We had to be creative and flexible with our solutions in order to handle unexpected delays out of our control.
Additionally, as a historic building, Orli’s rooms and spaces vary with distinct (sometimes inconvenient) features. We committed to work with these features rather than against them. The result brought to life some incredibly fun and unique pieces. For example, we worked to ensure that each bathroom – no matter the size restraint – felt as comfortable and functional as possible for guests. This led to the installation of beautiful pedestal sinks and elegant window seats.
Orli has been making headlines in top publications including Robb Report, Travel + Leisure, Modern Luxury, and more. How does it feel to not only see your work come to life, but also to receive such tremendous praise?
It has been absolutely surreal and so gratifying. We spent endless hours pouring over every detail and overcoming a multitude of hurdles to get to this point so to see it get this much recognition is extremely rewarding. From start to finish, I couldn’t have asked for better partners to work with than Hailey and Max. I think that the dedication and attention to detail found throughout the hotel is evident, and it really resonates with guests.
Let’s go back to the beginning — what led you into the interior design space and was there a specific moment you knew you wanted to be a designer?
In college, I had the privilege of studying architecture in Copenhagen for a semester. It was transformative to witness how design was woven into the fabric of the country – the architecture, the furniture, the cuisine, the fashion, and all interior spaces. I’ve always known that I would be a designer in some capacity, but my experience studying and living in Copenhagen really solidified how important the design of interiors was to me. After graduating with a degree in architectural studies, I made the decision to pursue a career in interiors so I could curate the experiences people had within a space.
Given ML Design Co. is a full-service hospitality design firm, you’ve seen your fair share of hotels. What does hospitality mean to you?
Hospitality is all about the guest experience. It is imperative that you create something unforgettable for the guest, while still balancing that with an operation that is manageable and sustainable for ownership. Each guest should have the same quality of experience, while their stay also should be tailored and unique to them.
In just a few words…
Describe Orli’s interior style:
Modern, Art Deco, luxe.
Favorite recent design trend:
While I always love an all-neutral palette, I have noticed a lot more color, texture, and patterns recently.
If you could only bring five household items to make a space great:
Pillows, blankets, books, plants, candles.
Favorite social account for design inspo right now:
Most rewarding part of your work:
Amazing clients and creating something beautiful together.
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