Hospitality Design - July 2011 - 103
Michael and Misha Bedner
HBA, Santa Monica, California
Clockwise from top left: Michael and Misha Bedner; and two of the some 1,000 projects that HBA has designed: a one bedroom suite at the newly renovated Fairmont Peace Hotel in Shanghai, and lounge LH13, set to open in New Delhi this summer.
Misha Bedner fondly recalls visiting his father’s ofﬁce when he was just four years old. Although he “grew up” at HBA, the company his father, Michael Bedner, founded in 1964 with Howard Hirsch, he had no interest in ever working for the Los Angeles-based hospitality behemoth. “Design was not in my sight,” Misha points out. Instead, he envisioned a career revolving around moviemaking or art direction. After he graduated from UCLA with a degree in art history, however, an art consulting job opened at HBA, which set Misha on a different path. “I took it on thinking it was going to be a few months; it became a few years,” he notes. Instead of pursuing the master’s degree in computer animation he once desired, he remained at HBA, moving through the ranks from director of art to project manager to his current role as director of marketing and business development. Michael, chairman and CEO, is thrilled to have had Misha on board over the past nine years—“I have so much conﬁdence in him,” he says—but he also acknowledges that in the beginning he was worried. “This is a very large company, and it’s hard to be out in front when everyone treats you as ‘the son.’” An ambitious Misha quickly proved his merits were earned, however, thanks to the forward-thinking approach to business his father engendered. Michael understands that the key to maintaining
HBA’s prominence in the design sphere is constant reinvention, such as expanding the scope of its residential and senior-care sectors. Plus, the company has just launched four new divisions to diversify itself in an ever-changing market: Canvas, an art consultancy; the Gallery, which, led from the London ofﬁce, will focus on bespoke, highconcept projects; Illuminate, an independent lighting consultancy; and Studio, which will focus on smaller-scale, lower-budget, fasterturnaround projects in China and New Delhi. “There are no boundaries to what you can do here, no job description,” says Misha. “I’m the director of marketing; I ﬁnd projects, keep clients happy, and make sure we practice good design. But the same could be said for the other 718 people in the company, too. We all wear 20 different hats but we don’t step on each other’s toes.” Current projects include the Four Seasons Guangzhou, Four Seasons Shenzhen, Park Hyatt Hyderabad, St. Regis Nation Towers, Abu Dhabi, and the Fairmont Baku. With myriad responsibilities, father and son hardly see each other in the ofﬁce, but relish those infrequent business trips together where they get to share their different design perspectives. “He’s been doing this 45 years, “Misha shares, “but I’m just a neophyte.” hd