Say Hello To: Nick Domitrovich
Meet Nick Domitrovich, our newest Senior Designer! A very recent NYC transplant, he comes to Puccini Group after having spent four years at ICRAVE working on projects such as STK, The Little Beet and Memorial Sloan Kettering. His hospitality, branding, and experiential design experience will be a great asset and addition to our Design Studio. Nick is originally from rural White Pine, Michigan and in a former life, worked the trading desk at J.P. Morgan with clients such as Disney, IBM, and AT&T. While he loved the fast-paced nature of the work, he left after three years to pursue his passion for design with a post-professional MFA from New York School of Interior Design.
Want to know more? Read our Q&A with Nick!
What attracted you to Puccini Group?
One of the first things that drew me to Puccini Group is its multidisciplinary approach to the world of hospitality. Because my educational background consists of both a business and design degree, the way I approach design aligns wonderfully with this group. You can design the most beautiful space in the world, but at the end of the day it is a business and if it doesn’t have the right operational model, branding or research to back it up, what is the point?
How has your passion for contemporary dance translated into the work you do today?
Over the past seven years one of my good friends Rachel and I would see around ten contemporary dance shows a year at the Joyce Theatre in Chelsea. In such an intimate venue, you see the passion exude from each dancer through every muscle, facial expression and line extension. Each time we left a performance I felt a burst of creative energy within me. Understanding the amount of work and dedication it takes to achieve that level of excellence inspires and continues to push me in my designs.
It also shames me into going to the gym the next morning, which is just an added bonus.
Tell us what it was like to officiate your first wedding!
Well it was a bit random actually. In 2013, my friends Khaled and Kyle had asked me to officiate their wedding in Brooklyn, but about two months beforehand my best friend Garrett & his fiancé Zach were getting married in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. They were having their old professor officiate the ceremony but since at the time marriage equality hadn’t passed in North Carolina, they were going to officially marry in NYC. So a week before the wedding on Friday, I received a text from Garrett asking me if I had sorted out that whole officiant business and if I would marry the pair on Monday. After laughing at the fact that my friend had just asked me over text message to marry him and his fiancé, I responded that yes, I had justwent to City Hall that very morning. When I asked why it had to be that Monday, he responded “Because that’s when we told the New York Times it would be!” So my first officiating stint ended up being after dinner in the apartment and was featured in the Times!
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
One of my design mentors once explained to me his thought process when he considers whether or not to take on a project for his studio. Essentially there are three aspects he looks at. First, will the project be profitable? Is this a client where they will be spinning their wheels and bleeding hours? Is it a realistic project in terms of schedule and budget? Second, is the project interesting? Is it a project that will challenge the studio and make them better designers? Is there a design challenge they have yet to take on? And finally, is this a project that will be fun? Is the client collaborative in nature? Is it a design that they can be a bit more playful with? In order for the studio to take on a project, at least two of these three attributes must ring true. Overall, it’s a great way of balancing our passion for design, our desire to learn and the necessity of being a successful business.
What’s your favorite hotel and why?
Hands down, the best hotel I’ve ever stayed in is the Auberge Resort property, Calistoga Ranch in Sonoma Valley. The “rooms” are actually freestanding lodges that adapt and blend into to their natural surroundings rather than overpower them. The design is a perfect mix of modern and rustic, the staff was unbelievably friendly, and overall it was one of the most luxurious and memorable spaces I’ve ever experienced.
What’s your favorite restaurant and why?
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum from Calistoga Ranch, I would have to say my favorite restaurant is Malatesta Trattoria in the West Village of New York. I fell upon it seven years ago when I was living in the neighborhood and have been a regular since. Both the food and design are simple yet authentic Italian and the staff is as laid back as the design suggests. When you go, start with the perfectly grilled calamari, indulge in the spinach gnocchi drizzled in a gorgonzola sauce and end the evening with my favorite dessert in the world, their homemade Tiramisu.
How do you hope to grow at Puccini Group?
One of the things I loved about ICRAVE was the breadth of projects I was able to work on. Doing everything from a high-tech Vegas nightclub to a cancer center for Memorial Sloan Kettering, I was exposed to many different typologies of design. At Puccini Group, I’m looking forward to taking everything I’ve already learned and narrow my focus a bit more on the hospitality industry to really hone my craft.
What made you take the plunge to move to the Bay Area and what do you love most about it so far?
Having been in New York for almost a decade, I was honestly ready for a change of pace. While I love the energy of the city (and there really is nothing quite like it) it is also exhausting! Almost as soon as I landed at SFO, I began to feel more relaxed. The weather is unbelievable, the food is delicious and I’m reconnecting with friends who had moved here already. It just felt like the perfect next chapter.
Tell us about White Pine! Is it true your graduating class consisted of 13 students?!
Haha, it is in fact true and we were the “big” class! I was born and raised in White Pine, a small town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. And when I say small, I mean small. As of the 2010 census, our population was 474 people. The thing with a small town is that everything and everyone plays multiple roles without really knowing any other way of life and it works. As just one example, our school superintendent was also our French teacher, Economics teacher, volleyball coach and athletic director, not to mention my mother’s golf partner. I myself was captain of the basketball team, class president, drama club director and worked two jobs. If I had been at a bigger school, I probably would have just done the one or two activities I was really interested in but I believe this type of living shaped me to be a multifaceted adult and while I don’t think I’ll ever live in a small town again, I’m definitely thankful for such a unique experience.