Therese Virserius

Professional in Hospitality Design.

About Therese Virserius

Virserius Studio is a NY and Paris-based team of architects, designers and artists dedicated to creating unique and award-winning guest experiences all over the world.

  • 2-Time Winner of Hospitality Design Award.
  • Specialized in Hospitality Design.
  • 3 Featured Original Designs.
  • Highly Creative, Diligent and Innovative.
  • All Designs
  • Hospitality
  • Interior
The Experience Floor Multifunctional Space

The Experience Floor Multifunctional Space

Hospitality Design

Le Campus Multifunctional space

Le Campus Multifunctional space

Interior Design

Big Easy Winebar and Grill Restaurant

Big Easy Winebar and Grill Restaurant

Hospitality Design


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Interview with Therese Virserius

Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
I didn’t always want to to be a designer I was an undergrad in law and then went for a Bachelors of Art in Mandarin with strong focus on Asia, particularly China and its culture and business.
Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
I started Virserius Studio in 2003 at that time it was called Therese Virserius design we rebranded 4 years ago when we also opened the office in Paris for our EMEA clients. We are a cross cultural studio; having designers from all over the world brings a richness and layered approach to design. Another factor is a that we are not only designers and architects but also have fine artists, psychology and sociology majors, branding architects and anthropologists, all of whom make the designs so much more layered and multidimensional.
What is "design" for you?
Something that tells a story, it can be your own or something that triggers an emotion within you.
What kinds of works do you like designing most?
When you have a great team working towards the same goal and when you see that the effort and contribution everyone makes creates a very passionate project which in turns resonates directly with guests.
What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
That’s actually hard to say. I love to design different things all the time. It is more interesting and you don’t fall into a niche of what you are famous for. It’s also more mentally stimulating to create new “pieces” all the time. I compare it to an artist who most likely would not paint the same piece over and over again.
What was the first thing you designed for a company?
The first thing I designed with my own company was a Westin in the US. It was a very large scale hotel so I learned quickly how to navigate and focus on what was important.
What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
I am a wood and stone kind of girl. For platforms and technology we use the different kinds, but I can’t specify a favorite.
When do you feel the most creative?
When I am out on the country side where it is quiet or when I get an opportunity to see dance performances or galley/museum visits.
Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
I am very focused on the concept of what this space can be, how the guest or patrons will feel when they are in the space, the mood and perception – the life of the space itself.
What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
That is a very good question, most of the time I am very happy both over the design and the outcome and the fantastic benefit it gives the properties and that we can actually show it in terms of actual revenue increase, which, obviously, makes for very happy clients and is very satisfying for us. Le Campus in Paris and Marriot Charles de Gaulle was two very successful sample of great team work, honest conversations and fabulous outcome.
What makes a design successful?
I think I touched on that briefly above. I think it takes a great team that listens to each other, solves problems together as a team and understand how to priorities and then makes things happen.
When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
Quality is an important factor but also the longevity of the aesthetics since we know that interior design is not like fashion “that has four or six seasons”. It’s a product that will aesthetically be able to live for a much longer time since ownerships don’t redesign for every season. So that’s important to me. Functionality is incredibly important as well. It really does not matter how beautiful something is if it’s useless…and the operator/hotel and it staff cannot use it for their daily operational needs.
From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
I think we have an obligation to educate and make suggestions to owners that are both socially and environmentally responsible. The main decision will rest with ownership though.
How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
I think we are seeing a more design aware end user so we have to pay attention to that as well as how we use technology. Being user friendly is key.
When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
Regina Virserius, our Creative Director, just exhibited her photography at the 350th anniversary of Villa Medici in Rome on 13th October and will be exhibiting additional works at Paris Photo on 9th November.
Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
My inspiration comes from my travels around the globe, meeting different cultures, understanding history in the context of design and events that impact where you work. And, of course, meeting people from different cultures and exposing yourself to take in new expressions with an open mind.
How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
Our style is very layered, exploratory, very sophisticated with an understated elegance that is also playful with a sense of humor. I totally understand our design if you are aware of the culture its representing.
Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
I live in New York City; I still call it home but I spend a lot of time in Paris since we have our 2nd office there. Before NYC and Paris I lived in Shanghai for several years and prior to that in Holland, Germany and, of course, Sweden where I am originally from. I believe that all the countries I lived in have an impact on how we design and how we view design. The great thing about having two offices, one in Europe and one in USA, means that the design gets approved or vetoed in both countries before its implemented, meaning it has a very international approach.
How do you work with companies?
It all depends. Sometimes we are the concept creators like when we work in Asia and Africa and then they implement it locally. In Europe and USA we are doing everything “soup to nuts”
What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
They need to trust that the designer will created something that will not only be aesthetically very pleasing but also have a great impact on their bottom line. I also think owners need to step out of their comfort zone (they are owners not designers) and let the designers do what they have been hired to do to create a new exceptional experience.
Can you talk a little about your design process?
We always start with a kick off meeting with ownership and brand-if we are working with a brand. Then we brainstorm internally each designer goes off on their own and a few days later we all meet again at the table to see what the research of the project brought back to the table in regards to inspiration. This time is spent on researching the property, the history of the area current situations as what is the area, is it a city block or a country side what is the property currently doing, what does the property aspire to do what is its strength/weakness . From this we go into the concept. So for us it’s important to have a narrative a story that the property can brand in different ways that also created a meaning for the guest and that will seep through all the design elements in a very interesting way. Sometime you can notice it sometimes it’s just here in the feeling of a space.
What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
I love my art. I have items that I bought on my travels that tell a story, my carpet from Istanbul that I had to drag through Africa on a trip before finally get back to NYC. I have my antique Chinese butterfly cabinet that I bought when I lived in Shanghai that means a lot to me. I absolute love the perfect sheet in my bed and my Swedish invention of a garlic peeler its brilliant you just put a piece of garlic in to the sleeve roll it and the peel falls of.
Can you describe a day in your life?
They are all quite different depending on where I am…but NYC is my home base so let’s talk about that. My morning coffee is key. I get to the office around 9.00am either by bike or walking, they I live nearby. I look through my emails, focusing on the European emails first since they are 6 hours ahead of me. Then I talk to my Creative Director in Paris to check in. By then my designers are coming in so we go over the projects see where everyone is. Who needs help because there is always a fast approaching dead line. Meet up with clients or have conference calls with clients depending on where they are in the world. Have one-on-one meetings with my designers, to check in where they are. Then there is all the non-creative part of actually running a business which is quite time consuming.
Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
If you can travel, definitely do so, as it broadens your mind. Understand other cultures. Move out of the world of computers so that you physically start to understand proportions and scale, this is important!
From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
The positive is that you can create from a blank canvas the negative is that there is never enough time!
What is your "golden rule" in design?
Listen and know what your capacity is, ask for help if you need design is a team effort not single women’s/man’s work.
What skills are most important for a designer?
Well listening is one, and being detail oriented for sure-many of us in this business are by default perfectionists. Also know when to say no or I would say pick your battles.
Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
CAD, photoshop, illustrator, 3D MAX, powerpoint sometimes final cut depending on the presentation we do.
How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
Let’s say a hotel a full hotel including all guest room and public spaces including restaurant etc is usually a 12 to 24-month process from initial design concepts to a fully completed project
Who are some of your clients?
Blackstone, Pandox, Individual hotel owners, Ernie Els, Marriott, Renaissance, Hyatt to mention a few.
What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
I enjoy hotel design work because you design everything from a guest room /suite to the restaurant, the bar and the lounges as well as the meeting spaces. This means that you have to think about different experiences and expectations for all these very different spaces. That is fun and challenging all at the same time.
What are your future plans? What is next for you?
We are still busy working on hotels both in Europe and USA, we have projects in Malaysia and we are about to create another venture to add to the overall capacity of the company.
Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
We are working on a very cool project in Berlin, great owners and project management team that has a very open mind to how design should be approached, how they want to brand it and an overall great great story.
How can people contact you?
They can email us at hello@virseriusstudio.com or bonjour@virseriusstudio.com. Also you can follow and engage with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or subscribe via our website for updates.

Extended Interview with Therese Virserius

Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?
I was born and raised in Sweden, so I have a foundation in European design, but I have also been influenced by my years living in China, and by my current home, New York City. I am fluent in Mandarin, which I perfected in Shanghai when I was part of the management team that started the first Ikea in China. I then moved on to Jeffrey Beers in New York, before starting my own firm in 2003. My diverse educational and professional experiences have allowed me to appreciate different cultures and provide a unique understanding of the global interior design landscape, while incorporating these elements into my projects.
What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?
I am motivated by the potential of the concept of what a space can be, how the guest or patron will feel when they are in the space, the mood and perception – the life of the space itself.
Did you choose to become a designer, or you were forced to become one?
I didn’t always want to to be a designer I was an undergrad in law and then went for a Bachelors of Art in Mandarin with strong focus on Asia, particularly China and its culture and business.
What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?
If you can travel, definitely do so, as it broadens your mind. Understand other cultures. Move out of the world of computers so that you physically start to understand proportions and scale, this is important!
What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?
When I am very happy both over the design and the outcome and the fantastic benefit it gives the properties we work on and that we can actually show it in terms of actual revenue increase, which, obviously, makes for very happy clients and is very satisfying for us.
What is your greatest design, which aspects of that design makes you think it is great?
It's tough to say, as I've had some really great design experiences. In general, I enjoy hotel design work, especially when designing everything from a guest room/suite to the restaurant, the bar and the lounges as well as the meeting spaces. This means that you have to think about different experiences and expectations for all these very different spaces. That is fun and challenging all at the same time.
If you hadn’t become a designer, what would you have done?
An actress, I think that would be so much fun. Or a singer, since I love to sing.
How do you define design, what is design for you?
Something that tells a story, it can be your own or something that triggers an emotion within you.
What’s your next design project, what should we expect from you in future?
We recently completed projects at these places: Hotel Bloom – Brussels, Belgium Marriot Charles De Gaulle - Paris Renaissance La Défense - Paris Double Tree Tower Bridge - London Double Tree Westminster - London Hilton Durban - Durban, South Africa We also have the new locations for Big Easy Winebar & Grill, a project we did that opened earlier this year in Durban, South Africa, but is now rolling out in Malaysia and in Miami, USA.
How does design help create a better society?
Design definitely informs a better society. I think we have an obligation to educate and make suggestions to clients that are both socially and environmentally responsible, in hope that they will support those suggestions when making a final decision.
What are you currently working on that you are especially excited about?
We are working on a very cool project in Berlin, great owners and project management team that has a very open mind to how design should be approached, how they want to brand it and an overall great story.
Which design projects gave you the most satisfaction, why?
That’s actually hard to say. I love to design different things all the time, and continuing to evolve. It is more interesting that way. I don’t fall into a niche, to be famous for just one type of design. It’s also more mentally stimulating to create new “pieces” all the time. I compare it to an artist who most likely would not paint the same piece over and over again.
Where do you think the design field is headed next?
I think we are seeing a more sophisticated and design aware end user so we designers have to pay attention to that, as well as how we use technology. Being user friendly is key.
How long does it take you to finalize a design project?
For a hotel, a full hotel including all guest room and public spaces including restaurant, etc is usually a 12 to 24-month process from initial design concepts to a fully completed project.
When you have a new design project, where do you start?
We always start with a kick off meeting with ownership and brand-if we are working with a brand. Then we brainstorm internally each designer goes off on their own and a few days later we all meet again at the table to see what the research of the project brought back to the table in regards to inspiration. This time is spent on researching the property, the history of the area current situations as what is the area, is it a city block or a country side what is the property currently doing, what does the property aspire to do what is its strength/weakness . From this we go into the concept. So for us it’s important to have a narrative a story that the property can brand in different ways that also created a meaning for the guest and that will seep through all the design elements in a very interesting way. Sometime you can notice it sometimes it’s just here in the feeling of a space.
What is your life motto as a designer?
Listen and know what your capacity is, ask for help if you need. Designing is a team effort not single women’s/man’s work.
Do you think design sets the trends or trends set the designs?
I don't believe in trends, personally. Design is not like fashion “that has four or six seasons”. Design needs to be aesthetically viable for a much longer time since brands and/or owners don’t redesign for every season.
What kind of design software and equipment do you use in your work?
CAD, Photoshop, Illustrator, 3D MAX, Powerpoint sometimes Final Cut depending on the presentation we do.
When you see a new great design or product what comes into your mind?
Is it a smartly organized and planned space? Does it have moments of surprise? Does the space invigorate?
How do you feel about all the awards and recognition you had, is it hard to be famous?
It's flattering and humbling to be recognized by juries of my peers and other respectable people in the design field. I am extremely grateful.
What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?
When you have a great team working towards the same goal and when you see that the effort and contribution everyone makes creates a very passionate project which in turns resonates directly with guests.

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