by Erin Stephenson
The Chief Translator of Our Brand
Some relationships are truly symbiotic. Over the course of the Atticus Hotel project, I’ve witnessed the incredible interconnectivity between architect and interior designer, and the way in which the two must articulate a shared vision—one that each interprets through their own form of expression. Together they must see something that does not exist, yet have the same image burned on the inside of their eyelids. It’s a beautiful process to behold.
Prior to the development of the schematic design of the Atticus Hotel, our architect, Nathan Cooprider, introduced us to his interior colleague—and counterbalance in all ways—Christina Tello. Over the course of the last year and a half Christina—who is one of the most intuitive people I’ve ever met—has become the chief translator of our brand, which in its most pure form is expressed through our interior design choices at the Atticus Hotel.
Intuitive by Nature
As the daughter of a state department employee, Christina grew up hopping around the world, and through that experience picked up an uncanny ability to listen deeply and observe everything, quickly understand a culture and then synthesize it into her own creations. Christina has spent hundreds (if not thousands) of hours with us in conversation, or on design field trips (exploring broad themes in Oregon design; learning about McMinnville’s history and culture; and meeting with local artisans and makers) and we have total faith that she gets our vision at a molecular level.
In truth, however, for all the time spent, she seemed to intuitively understand us almost instantly. Her crystal-ball like qualities were on display at our very first meeting, where she showed us an Atticus Hotel mood board that captured visually exactly what we’d been envisioning. More unnerving, however, was the fact that her presentation led with images of a classic FJ40 land cruiser and a dutch style bike—having no idea that those are the preferred modes of transportation for my partner Brian and I. (Brian has a ’74 cruiser and I’m in love with my Dutchie bike). Without ever having met us before, somehow she just knew.
When you work closely with someone, you start to pick up on the small nuances of their speech and you begin to learn what excites them, and motivates them to keep tackling every new challenge. Christina uses the word “intriguing” to describe a design idea she’s excited about, and that’s perfect for us because we’re looking to create spaces that are thoughtful, interesting and of course beautiful. Christina is always the first person to try and push further in each of these areas, ensuring that our design, and the brand it represents, meets those ideals and keeps exploring their outer boundaries, working to create a truly meaningful and luxurious experience for our guests.
Collaborative by Design
Christina graduated from Philadelphia University with a BS in Interior Design before spending almost a decade working for some of Oregon’s biggest architecture firms. During that time she worked on several hotel projects for large corporate chains, providing her with a unique perspective on the Atticus Hotel, and making her a great fit for a team interested in rethinking the hotel design process. Instead of designing one room, and then hiring a procurement company to source the items at the lowest possible price, we are designing 36 unique rooms, each one personally curated by Christina and the rest of our design team, and featuring a selection of locally crafted furnishings and art. Rather than asking Christina to simply create “something beautiful” we’ve given her a pandora’s box of design challenges.
“We need you to create a sexy spin on a distinctly Oregon aesthetic.”
“We want you to use locally crafted furnishings wherever possible. Yes, even couches and mattresses if we can.”
“We want to tell the story of McMinnville and Oregon wine country through our interiors.”
“A sense of luxury and comfort are priorities”
“We’d like to use Oregon-based brands for our finish materials.”
“We need our hard finishes to be representative of the era that most buildings in Historic Downtown McMinnville were built. They should feel classic but fresh.”
“All the art needs to be local.”
“Here’s a list of some unexpected elements we need you to incorporate. You’ll figure out how to do it.”
“Oh, and we’d like all 36 rooms to be different. No two can be exactly the same.”
No matter what we throw her way though, Christina is up for the challenge. She is the consummate team player, always staying focused on our vision, working with others to get the job done, and constantly referencing what’s best for the project. She’s living and breathing the Atticus Hotel right now, and like every other person on our team, we know she’s giving 1000% every single day. We’re certain that when the Atticus Hotel opens in downtown McMinnville next spring, Christina’s many gifts—her intuition, her love of intriguing concepts, her collaborative nature and her beautiful eye for texture and color—will be on full display. We can’t wait for you to see it all come together.