Christopher Wood says he believes designing a casino is telling their story, and he has had the privilege of working with several tribal casinos. The NCIDQ, IIDA lead interior designer at HBG Design says there are several ways to accomplish that goal.
“Some clients want us to tell their stories through the design,” Wood says. “Others would like a very refined, sophisticated experience where the stories that we’re telling are their story, so they don’t necessarily want to share those with everyone. In that case, we’ll work to develop what we want the customers to experience and how we want them to feel within the space.”
Wood has worked on five casinos now, including the Eagle Mountain Casino in Porterville, California. Each design begins with a collaboration.
“Design and casinos, I think they go hand in hand since we’re working to shape the customer’s experience,” Wood says. “I think it tends to go hand in hand about having it be bright and flashy and while they’re engaged with the machine, but also the environment around them is very energetic and alive as well.”
Two features that Wood says is important are color and light, and how they flow into a design.
“The clients have their preferences with their brands, but the color plays a massive role,” Wood says. “Not only are there light levels that are needed on a technical level just so that the dealers can see what’s happening, security can see what’s happening, but also you then want to add the layer of the glitz and the glamor and the jewels. We always consider lighting in design to be the jewelry of the space. It’s always added on as a nice catch at the end.”
Wood got his start in design when he graduated from the University of Cincinnati and interned at HBG Design. It was there he met Emily Marshall, IIDA, NCIDQ, the interior design director. Marshall acted as a mentor for Wood.
“She was my sponsor and my mentor throughout my internships here,” Wood says. “She’s even currently my sponsor. That’s the way that our company’s structured—everyone has a sponsor that we’re able to check in with and ask questions.”
Wood says he would encourage anyone that is interested in design to look at a career in casinos.
“I think my advice would be to approach it with an open mind, but that’s also fun and exciting, because this is a fun and exciting field,” Wood says. “Not only design, but casinos and the energy. Everyone is there to promote this hospitality.
“So, my general advice is to always like what you do, because life is too short to not enjoy what you’re doing. If you like the design that you’re doing and you like your job, then that will also translate into your work as well.”