Designer Spotlight


Ever wondered who’s behind all the gorgeous hotels, resorts and clubhouses KTI puts their name on? Allow us to introduce you to Hospitality Studio Director Marla-Rae Lewandoski — the fearless leader of our hospitality team, pancake lover, and proud Canadian! Get to know Marla-Rae with these 20 questions.

1. Where are you from?

I’m from a darling little town, hamlet actually, in Canada: Sandy Lake, Manitoba.

2. How did you know you wanted to be an interior designer?

I honestly didn’t. I took 3 years off after I graduated high school and worked to figure out what I wanted to actually do with my life. I knew I was always interested in design but it wasn’t a knowing feeling until I was about 20 years old when I finally decided to go for it.

3. What’s your favorite KTI Hospitality project?

The Hotel Indigo in Downtown Denver! It was a small Public Space renovation but it was such a creative transformation.

4. What’s your favorite non-hospitality KTI project?

The Brass Boot. The Luxury Residential Team did such a beautiful job on this project, it’s gorgeous!

5. What’s one design element you’re loving right now?

All the curves! I love the softness and femininity they lend to a space, whether in the lines of a furniture pieces or a millwork detail.

6. What’s a design trend you hope never comes back?

Black granite countertops. I love them but I loathe them from a cleaning standpoint.

7. Where do you look for and find inspiration in the world?

Fashion. Design trends are influenced by the runway, and I love seeing two of my favorite worlds come together.

8. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Professionally I have two: getting to be the Lead Designer on the JW Marriott at the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN. I am still so grateful every day to have been given the opportunity, and my current role at KTI. I am only three years in but getting to work with and help lead my incredibly talented team has been such a gift!

9. What’s your favorite kind of space to design?

Hotel Lobbies. They are the first impression space and if done right often times the most impactful and memorable.

10. What’s the best part about finishing a project?

Observing how people use the space. I love returning to the “scene of the crime” to see how individuals interact within a space knowing I had a hand in helping create a special moment in their life. It’s the best feeling!

11. What are you listening to currently? (music, podcast)

Taylor Swift – Midnights album, clearly! And Mac Miller’s – The Divine Feminine. I’m obsessed with the Smartless podcast and my dear friend Kylie Larson’s podcast: Far from Perfect.

12. What’s your spirit animal?

I’m going to go with a koala bear. Random I know, but they have a strong veggie game, a strong sleep game, and they seem quite low maintenance, perhaps self-sufficient and not into the drama, which I totally respect. Hi it’s me!

13. What’s one food you couldn’t live without?

Duh, pancakes!

14. Take us through your 5 to 9 before your 9 to 5.

By 5 to 9am I know you mean 4 to 8am right? Truth, I am one of those really annoying morning people who loves mornings! I wake up just before 4am during the week. I make my lunch which takes a lot of time and consideration because I love to eat. I then head over to my gym from 5-6am to lift weights and see my fellow morning loving gym friends. After that it’s breakfast, and by breakfast I usually mean pancakes, followed by my attempt to pull myself together to get to the office. Best hours of the day by far!

15. Do you have a party trick or hidden talent?

Remembering names and birthdays!

16. If your fingers could dispense 5 beverages, what would they be?

Coffee. Water. Wine. Zevia. Chocolate Milk.

17. Would you rather only wear heels or never wear shoes again?

Heels. It’s always heels!

18. Neutral tones or bold color?

Neutral tones, but I do love boldness when required.

19. What’s a hobby you hope to pick up one day?

Urban gardening so I can start canning my own vegetables. 

20. How would you describe your personal design style?

I think I’m a mix of modern meets curated yesteryear. I gravitate to clean lined architecture but throw in an unexpected antique for good measure. I love high contrast color combinations and pattern mixing; black and white or zinging a neutral palette with a saturated jewel tone. Materials that bring the right amount of drama but are lived in to give them an edge gives me life!