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When Myriam Judith Restrepo Galavis was hired by Sociedad Hotelera Tequendama in 1985, she was the only female architect and interior designer with a full-time position in the hospitality industry in Colombia. Inspired by her father, a civil engineer who taught her to value design, architecture, drawing, and the management of well-formed, organized and harmonious interior spaces, Restrepo Galavis entered the male-dominated field and never looked back. She took the time to speak with us about changing trends and the role of a grand hotel lobby.
ID: What path led you to becoming a designer?
MR: I realized I possessed a great creativity at an early age and so I wanted to grow professionally in a field where I could make the most of that. I always liked design, and I always wanted to improve the color, light and comfort of interior spaces.
ID: What was your first professional project?
MR: Designing the spa at Hotel Tequendama InterContinental, today known as Crowne Plaza Tequendama Bogota. That was 1985-6. I was part of the design team, coordinating the execution of the project.
ID: What are you working on now?
MR: They are actually several projects. I am designing, planning and working to budget the International Convention Center on the 4th floor of the Crowne Plaza Suites Tequendama Bogota, while overseeing the design and remodeling of several guestrooms. I am also working on the design and expansion of the Mirador ballroom at the Hotel Tequendama Inn Estacion Buenaventura, as well as the design and construction of the kitchen and laundry room. Additionally, I'm remodeling the Monserrate meeting room, and the bathrooms of the main ballroom at the Crowne Plaza Tequendama Bogota.
ID: Interesting that you’re back at your first hotel. How is this time different from 25 years ago?
MR: Many things have changed, especially in regards to design trends. Designs used to be colorful and elaborate, yet today’s designs are simple, clean, and often feature warm colors. Earlier in my career, I wanted to grow and learn different concepts. Today, I want to share my knowledge and teach what I have learned in a way that will leave a permanent mark on the industry.
ID: How has the change in trends impacted your work?
MR: Today interior design is about simplicity, and the integration of technology in a smart design is now used to compliment the society in which we live. We are also seeing an integration of interior design and architectural design. Visually, this means a greater balance between them both, resulting in greater harmony.
ID: In all the years, which project stands out the most for you?
MR: One of the design projects that had the most profound impact on my professional success was the remodeling of the lobby of the iconic Crowne Plaza Tequendama Bogota. The project took place in 1987 and it has been very significant, as the hotel’s grand lobby has welcomed many important politicians, celebrities and dignitaries throughout the years.
ID: Where do you go to relax?
MR: I usually travel an hour away from Bogota to the beautiful countryside, where the weather is pleasant and there is a lot of natural vegetation and foliage.
ID: What’s the one thing always in your handbag?
MR: My cell phone.
ID: What is the most amazing example of design in Colombia?
MR: The Parque Biblioteca España, in the city of Medellín, designed by Giancarlo Mazzanti.
ID: What advice do you have for young designers today?
MR: Persevere in pursuing your objectives. Research and explore new avenues of design constantly.