For more than a decade, Hospitality Design magazine has annually honored a handful of designers, architects, brand executives, and owners as the “Wave of the Future”—those who are young enough to be considered visionary, but tested enough to be accomplished. This October, our very own Elide Rathborne was recognized for her work at Bond Collective; designing over 500,00 SF of office space across twelve locations. At a ceremony hosted in Nashville, Tennessee, Elide along with the Design Team received this prestigious honor and premiered a short film to tell her story. Watch the film and read the interview below!
Words by: Caitlin St John • Photos by Logan Jackson + courtesy of Elide Rathborne
When did you know you wanted to be a designer?
I have always had a vivid imagination and dreamed of fanciful spaces. My elementary school stories have detailed descriptions of interiors to set the mood, and I was always interested in art and creating things.
First hospitality-related memory?
When I traveled to Paris for the first time, I stayed at The Ritz and thought I was in heaven. We antiqued in the Left Bank, and I remember being so inspired by the architecture, the art, and even the intricate patterns in the cobblestone porte-cochères.
What drew you to hospitality?
My mother—whose aura is hospitality—trained me to anticipate needs and spoil my guests with things they never knew they needed. The idea of reaching people I would never have access to and introducing them to another level of joy and comfort drove me to hospitality.
First design-related job?
After completing my post grad at the Sotheby’s Institute of Art [in New York], I worked with an art and antique gallery selling and acquiring pieces. I then started helping friends design their apartments and houses. One of my first projects was a very important historical home on Main Street in Sag Harbor which was a fabulous opportunity with a ballroom and all.
How did you land at Bond Collective?
In 2015, my roommate from college was heading up real estate for Coworkrs, a shared workspace startup. At the time, I was cooking and designing and waiting to see which path would take off first. She introduced me to the CEO, Shlomo Silber, and we hit it off. I pitched him to sell prepared lunches to his members. He was also reviewing plans and renderings for their Gowanus location [in Brooklyn, New York], and I began to give him feedback. He asked if I would help with the design, so I put the lunches on hold. The company needed help with two more locations, and I was hired fulltime. Three projects turned into 12 with over 500,000 square feet built. During this time, I built out our design team, project managed, and started our in-house procurement department. I was fortunate enough to bring my good friend, Thomas Gibbons, on as creative director and design partner. We worked with Shlomo and renamed the company Bond Collective. It’s been a busy seven years to say the least.
What about the job interests you?
My mission has been to change the way people feel about coming to work. Going to work is a much different experience than staying in a hotel. I want our spaces to instill joy and bring out confidence in people through their surroundings. Since we aim to appeal to everyone, we always try to provide options for people to choose their own work adventure. Also, the company's founders Elie Dietsch and Shlomo Silber have an immense amount of trust and faith in me. They are amazing at choosing locations and give me an incredible amount of creative freedom.
What has been your greatest professional challenge?
Designing projects that were put on hold or never saw their way to completion. Concepting, specifying, and creating all the details that lie within the construction documents are a labor of love. A little part of my heart breaks thinking of the possibilities of what these projects could have been. The ideas are still there and sometimes they find their ways into new projects, so there is a silver lining.
Most rewarding part of the job?
Overhearing people talk about the space and enjoying their surroundings makes my heart so full of appreciation and pride.
Do you collect anything?
I have an affinity for antique mirrors. They are so romantic in all they’ve seen and the light they have reflected. One is an 8-foot-tall cartouche mirror I sourced from a dealer in New Orleans. Every time I walk by it, I feel so beautiful. I can’t wait to make my own version of it for a project.
What is your dream project?
The Pierre Hotel in New York. It has such a rich history. I’d love to bring it back to life and put my spin on it.
Best piece of advice you’ve been given?
You can’t delegate understanding. Only by doing all the phases of a project can you become a better, more sincere, and empathetic leader.