CEO Offers Tips on Building Opportunities within a Changing Global Economy

Jan. 6, 2009

DALLAS - Trisha Wilson is the founder and chief executive officer of Wilson Associates, an interior architectural design firm based in Dallas, Texas, with offices in New York, Los Angeles, Singapore, Shanghai, Johannesburg and an associate office in Cochin, India. The firm was founded in 1971 and now employs a staff of more than 350 professionals. 

Raised in Dallas, Wilson is a dynamic businesswoman and an internationally acclaimed hotel designer who has built a global empire around the design of hotels, restaurants, clubs, casinos, and high-end residences. Wilson Associates is consistently ranked as one of the top two firms in the hospitality design industry worldwide. So how does Wilson succeed, especially in an economy as challenging as this one? 

Global Diversity
"To take advantage of booming global economies and to geographically serve our clients better, we opened offices in locations around the world. This diversification helps us manage," explains Wilson explains. In 2008, 10 percent of the firm's work was domestic and 90 percent international. Wilson Associates is currently working on projects in 24 countries worldwide, including those in South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Some of the key projects the company worked on in 2008 include: the Four Seasons Hotel Pudong, Shanghai, China; Montage Deer Valley, Utah; One & Only Mazagan, El Jadida, Morocco; Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and Ritz-Carlton Macao, Macau, China. The firm's high-profile projects for 2009 include: The Ritz-Carlton, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; The Lotte Hotel, Moscow, Russia; The St. Regis Doha, Qatar; Park Hyatt Saadayat, Abu Dhabi, UAE; and the St. Regis, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

"The most valuable thing I have learned is to maintain an ‘attitude of gratitude,'" says Wilson. "In a service business like ours, we are all interdependent: my colleagues need and depend on one another; we depend upon our vendors and service providers, and our clients depend on us. I am grateful for the teamwork, creativity and commitment of my associates and I am grateful for the tremendous projects our clients entrust with us—projects that take us to all corners of the world designing places of incredible beauty and luxury."

Respect for Artistic Traditions
Key to Wilson Associates' success is its design philosophy, which encompasses an appreciation for the arts and traditions of the cultures in which the firm works. "We design for the client ... for the market. No single style or ‘look' can be attributed to us; instead, we create a custom project for each client," explains Wilson. 

Research is an important part of the design process. "Before beginning a project, our design team researches the art and cultural influences, topography, building materials and construction capabilities that are unique to the project location. This process provides inspiration and broadens the design perspective," she adds. Designers also incorporate a geographical influence through the use of local craftsmen, artisans and artists. The team goes one step further with the custom design of numerous architectural details, furniture, lighting, carpeting, and fabrics.

Wilson has earned the respect of her colleagues and clients because she has built her business around a few key principles: "Create spectacular design, give back and success will follow." She puts this belief into practice as the chairman and founder of The Wilson Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit foundation, which she established to help fund education and healthcare programs for disadvantaged children, especially in rural South Africa, as well as in her service on numerous civic and community organizations.

Wilson Associates is committed to integrating the principles of sustainable design into all aspects of its practice and is recognized for its commitment to green design. The firm pledges to educate all employees and clients about sustainable design and to initiate a dialogue about environmental impact and sustainable alternatives both within the firm and with its clients and suppliers. The firm recently formed green teams in each office to better educate the staff on the latest eco-friendly design products/trends and to keep the conversation flowing through its global offices.

Innovative Design
Thinking outside of the box and beyond the bottom line has contributed to Wilson Associates' ongoing success. Trisha Wilson focuses on surrounding herself with a team composed of "can-do" spirits! Her motto has always been, "It CAN be done!" What will be next?

Specializing in interior architectural design, Wilson Associates was founded in 1971 and today employs more than 350 professionals in their headquarters in Dallas and offices in New York, Los Angeles, Singapore, Johannesburg, Shanghai, and an associate office in Cochin, India. The firm creates interiors for world-class hotels, restaurants, clubs, casinos, and high-end residential projects, offering a full range of design services, from space planning to furniture installation, including custom product design. Wilson Associates is consistently ranks as one of the top two firms in the hospitality design industry worldwide. For more information, call (214) 521-6753 or visit

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