Bryan Kirkland – Playful in Playa del Carmen

The drama is in the details when it comes to hotels, and that’s exactly how Bryan Kirkland likes it. “Everywhere a client looks in a hotel needs to stimulate the senses,” says Kirkland, principal of B.A.K Interiors ( The globe-trotting, Atlanta-based design star is composing a 38-room boutique hotel in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, among an exciting list of current projects. Think “sexy and sophisticated” with high design and color. Closer to home, an architecturally amazing, 14,000-square-foot home in Chastain Park is also stimulating his senses.

In this edition of “Interior Monologues,” Kirkland, named “One of the Top 25 Designers in Atlanta” by Veranda magazine, talks hotel design, favorite hospitality haunts, business dress code in the tropics (not shorts, unfortunately!), and which travel essentials always make it into his suitcase.


Q: What’s keeping you busy right now?
A: I am very excited to be working on three amazing jobs right now.  One being a 14,000 square-foot home in Chastain Park; another in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; and another in Cancun/Playa del Carmen, Mexico. The Chastain Park home is a beautiful casual home with lots of details architecturally.  It is a study on gray and white and I think it is one of our best projects we have been asked to work on.  The Cabo residence is an amazing Spanish colonial home with modern overtones.  It is the size of a small hotel with enough rooms to house all of your family and their friends! I have never worked in Mexico and this is a huge learning experience.  The Playa del Carmen is a 38-room boutique hotel where I get to throw caution to the wind with high design and color.  The clients want sexy and sophisticated and that is one of my specialties.

Q: What do you like about designing hotels?
A: The great thing about hotels is that you can design one room and then you have anywhere from 38 to 1,000 rooms completed and ready for purchasing.  Also you need three to four times the details in hotels than you would in a home.  Everywhere a client looks in a hotel needs to stimulate the senses.  We get to design wide-open spaces with very tall ceilings where scale and proportion are one of your greatest details.

Q: Tell us about the hotels you are designing now – how is your design influenced by their location?
A: Our hotel designs are created with the companies’ brand in mind.  The locations do not always play a factor unless we are speaking of such opposites as the tropics and New York City.  Light and bright with lots of details is our typical tropics design but in NYC we are definitely much more moody and sensual.  I love a sultry feeling hotel room.

Q: You travel a lot for work – what item would you never travel without?
A: I never travel without my skin and hair care regimen.  I sound like such a gay man but I am.  We all know beauty is a requirement.  I love clothes.  My clothing is always based on location.  You don’t need a lot of clothes in the tropics but surprisingly every businessman wears casual dress clothes, meaning slacks and shirts.  I do wish it were shorts but it’s not.  Traveling to NYC or Washington, DC in January is something entirely different.  It is hard for me to take a carry-on.  I might need more than two outfits in one day and layers are one of my favorite ways to dress.  I usually feel naked without a tie or bowtie and just that perfect vest and jacket.  Did I say I love clothes!

Q: What’s your favorite hotel you’ve stayed at? Why?
A: Wow!  This is a hard one.  The Four Seasons in London; The Resort at Pedregal in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; The One & Only Palmilla in Los Cabos, Mexico; the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York City; The Mansion in Savannah, GA…. I feel blessed to be able to travel.  I have been able to stay at some great locations and if you made me choose I would have to go back again and then give you my answer.  Next up: The Four Seasons in Bora Bora.  I really want to experience a hut on the water. It is luxury, but still a hut built on the water.  Should I book it and call you?

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