Designer Chat: Gerrick from Millé

February 17, 2023

Tell us about your journey as a designer.

Before becoming a designer I worked in hospitality for 15 years, at one point owning four venues before realising I much preferred designing them to running them. This is what gives us an advantage at Millé - we understand the business of  hospitality and design as if we own the venue - we care about sales, operational efficiencies and capital expenditure more than other designers do. 

Why is Lighting important?

Lighting has a big impact on the atmosphere of a venue. Every drawing we do says in bold that all lighting must be dimmable. Lighting should be adjustable and flow to reflect, compliment and impact the experience of a venue. Bad lighting, the wrong brightness or colour, can ruin a concept, atmosphere or experience. 


Is there a lighting product that you LONG for that you cannot see available in New Zealand currently?

No. I believe in making the most of what you have available to you. 


Do you see any strong styles coming through in 2023? 

I never really think about styles or trends. We look at our customers, their business values, loves and dislikes, at their target market and competition, and once we understand these things, the design decisions become a lot clearer and easier to make.


What are your top 5 pearls of wisdom that you can share with anyone building or renovating right now?

For hospitality: 

1. Success in hospitality is no one thing only. It's not your food, service, location or even lighting. It is all these things and everything else added together - food, lighting, service, location, music, comfort, price points, menu mix - it's all the one percenters that add up to create a venue that customers love or unsure why they don't like.

2. You can spend $200,000 or $2,000,000 on a restaurant fit out and do the same weekly sales. Be wise about how you spend your money and which designers you hire. 

3. You can save $100,000's in plumbing, electrical, mechanical, flooring, compliance costs, everything, if you take over a failed venue rather than starting a new one from an empty space that's never been a hospitality venue. You also likely won't need a building consent so you'll save yourself that headache. 

4. The longer I am in the industry, the more I realise it comes down to demand and supply. You can put the same venue in a different location and it will do 4x the sales. Look at your site and look at the competition and who your target market is. Make sure there is high demand from customers and not an over supply of competition. 

5. Make sure you have the right lease and rentals. Once this is signed, you're screwed if it's wrong. If you have a demo clause, or no rights of renewal, your business will have no value to sell. We have a lot of these tips on our website

What design tips and tricks can you share?

You can do a lot with paint. Try to make things work as a whole, not just putting together individual things you like. Zoom out and try to look at things from a big picture. Always think about your target market.