Get to Know Cristi Moore, ASID, IIDA, NCIDQ
At Firm Best Known for Its Technical Services, National Practice Leader for Interior Design Uses Brand Storytelling “Superpower” to Elevate Design
You joined BRPH in December 2022, coming from a global firm well-known for design. What made you decide to join a firm like BRPH with more of a reputation for its technical capabilities?
BRPH’s technical services reputation may currently outshine our equally impressive design capabilities but I’m here to change that! After being introduced to BRPH, I realized it’s the perfect place for a hospitality design connoisseur like me to create a bigger impact across a wider range of user experiences.
The term “hospitality” was traditionally used only in the hotel and resort industry. How is the concept of hospitality design blending into other areas and why?
The concept of hospitality design is increasingly blending into other sectors as businesses recognize the need to enhance customer experiences. The overarching goal is to prioritize customer or user experience by creating spaces that are not only functional but also aesthetically pleasing, comfortable and conducive to positive interactions. This blending of hospitality design into various sectors reflects a broader recognition of the impact that the physical environment can have on people’s perceptions and experiences.
It’s obvious, when talking to you, that you’re a Southerner. What does hospitality mean to you personally?
What gave me away? To me, hospitality is that feeling of family, of never meeting a stranger, of offering your very best to all those you encounter and ensuring people feel welcomed and at ease. Great design does the same — it envelopes you, draws you in with authentic sincerity. A hospitable environment is characterized by warmth, friendliness and a commitment to ensuring the well-being and satisfaction of those being served. It involves not just the physical aspects of a space, whether it be a personal or business destination, but also the attitude and behavior of those providing the service. Hospitality can be expressed in a multitude of contexts.
You credit your mother with being the first to realize you were meant to be a designer. How did that come about?
I was born and raised in Starkville, Mississippi, and attended Mississippi State University (MSU), where I started as an accounting major but ultimately graduated with a degree in marketing. Upon graduating, my husband and I were building our first home, and it was during this process that my mother pointed out that I may have missed my calling, as I was totally consumed with every detail.
I didn’t hesitate to pursue a second bachelor’s degree in interior design from MSU. My sights were set high to intern at and work for a Top 10 firm. That expectation led me to what I considered a big city. I landed in Atlanta and it has since been my “professional career home.” To further expand my approach to design, I later commuted to Savannah in pursuit of a Master’s in Design Management & Strategy at the Savannah College of Art & Design. Understanding the power of creativity and the visualization of such has truly expanded my perspective of design as strategic rather than mere aesthetics.
It’s hard to believe you were an accounting major! Has any of that “math mentality” remained in your design career?
While design is perceived as very subjective, I have found, through a strategic, yet creative-research-based approach, a solid foundation where design decisions become less subjective. This decision-making allows that logical side of my brain to still be engaged while also providing our clients confidence in our collaborative design direction and ultimately, the design experience.
How do you balance the business needs of the client, such as cost and schedule, with the human factors that take a space to the next level?
A great designer can do both. Adhering to those restraints is important, but a project delivered on time and on budget means nothing if the humans who use that space aren’t the focal point. Human-centered design takes stories that create the right emotional connections and expresses them in ways that engage all six senses (yes, we consider the sixth sense the soul of place) of the human experience, down to the last detail.
Brand storytelling is a key part of your process. How so?
Absolutely! In fact, if I had to choose one “superpower” I would say it’s the ability to understand the story behind the project, connecting people to the soul of the place. This process refers to the strategic use of narrative techniques and storytelling principles to convey a brand’s identity, values and messaging to its target audience. It involves crafting and sharing stories that resonate with consumers, create emotional connections and help define the brand’s personality and purpose — all through design. A good storyline captures the hearts and minds of the occupants and connects people to place and to one another in ways that transform community and culture — strengthening bonds among all — and ultimately leaving lasting impressions.
Where do the stories come from?
Well, this is where the magic begins — it subtly emerges from a multi-faceted immersion of place, history, future, culture and traditions, people and community, etc. The storyline or narrative begins to evolve visually through layers of profound imagery, textures, materials and often random, unexpected curiosities. It’s about building relationships not just between people and a brand, but people and the environment. Crafting genuine stories that differentiate design experience demands vision, passion and the ability to create a relatable connection. We truly push boundaries.
That sounds fascinating. Can you provide an example?
My team uses this process for every client, for every project. Give us a call and you’ll see firsthand our passion for storytelling and visualization, and how it brings your project to life.