Chad Oppenheim’s list of awards nearly fills the home page on his website. His projects have been widely featured in multiple shelter magazines and are a staple for The New York Times and other major media. While his work ranges from residential and commercial buildings to entire cities, single family houses (La Muna in Aspen pictured below) are now occupying more and more of his time. Recently Elite Traveler Editor-in-Chief Doug Gollan and Publisher Daniel Wade met with the Miami-based whiz kid to hear about why his work is in constant demand.
Elite Traveler: Tell us about your background and how you got into what you’re doing.
Chad Oppenheim: I’m an architect and designer of many things: interiors, cities, and everything in between. When I was seven my parents decided to build their dream home, and I worked with the architect at night. We basically all sat together dreaming up this house for my family. That is when I realized I wanted to draw and create incredible dream homes. So I’ve been doing that for 36 years. We just finished a really incredible home in Los Angeles for a movie director. This is the house I started to formulate when I was seven years. It’s an incredible house.
ET: Are there any specific things that make it unique?
CO: It’s built into a cliff in Los Angeles and Bel Air it overlooks the whole city of Los Angeles, and it has the most technologically advanced theater in the world. It was a long process, but the final product came out spectacular. It really is all about creating the optimal living environment in a particular place. We want to celebrate that place by making the architecture become one with the environment and history that surrounds it. We just finished a house in the islands, and it feels like the house has been there for a hundred years, but yet it feels completely powerful and modern.
ET: Can you tell us about some of the hotels you are currently working on?
CO: We are working on the Emiliano Hotel, which is set to be the most exclusive luxury hotel in Rio. Another perspective we’re finishing up a hotel in China as part of a major theme-park.
ET: What are some of your favorite hotel projects?
CO: We’ve been involved in some very interesting projects in the Middle East. One particular is a resort in the desert of Jordan located in a very biblical setting. The hotel is spectacular and built into a cliff.
ET: How would you describe your design philosophy?
CO: I would say that we’re really focused on enhancing life of the inhabitants in our projects, but we want to embrace the ecosystem our project exists within as well. Most of our work has a very close relationship with the natural world. Whether it be framing incredible views of sky in an urban context or celebrating the sunrise and sunset and trying to capturing those moments. This house in the Bahamas we did is all about framing the sky and celebrating the sunrise, moon, and the beautiful trees. This allows the occupant to appreciate these things in a powerful way.
ET: How many people are in your company?
CO: It’s an exciting time for us. We have close to 40 employees between our Los Angeles office and our office in Switzerland, and recently we have been expanding our team.
ET: How are you handling expanding your business but still keeping your vision and company’s philosophy?
CO: It’s a lot of work. We have a lot of passion, and hopefully that passion will translate. But it’s tough. We don’t do too many projects at once. We’re at that scale where we still maintain personal involvement in every project, which is what we want to be doing.
ET: Being a designer and architect what do you think makes a good hotel?
CO: I like something very intimate that feels like home. I like to see the personal vision of the owner, and it to capture the spirit of the environment. Every place has its own little jewels that can be capitalized on. Those are the types of places I prefer.