Profile: Richard and Liz Tischler, co-founders
Number of employees: 4
Tischler Haus Design
Partners in Design
A husband and wife design team is making a name for themselves through their devotion to clients and unwavering standards of quality for every project.
In 1984, Richard Tischler was a design director at Covington Pace Development of Connecticut when he hired Elizabeth, a talented interior designer who the rest of the company quickly suspected Richard was dating. After months of fending off rumors, they conceded defeat and went out on a date. Barely a year later they were married.
“I see Liz 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and I still can’t get enough of her,” Richard said. “We’ve succeeded where others have failed because of our relationship.”
In the second half of the 1990s, they were again working together at a design firm that wasn’t growing enough for them. Liz said their colleagues were telling them to make their own firm, but for a while, the fear of staking both their incomes on a start up project kept them from it. Finally, in August of 2001, they started Tischler Haus Design out of their home in New Jersey.
Tischler Haus Design is a full-service design firm that plays to Richard and Liz’s different strengths. They offer architectural design services and space planning, which are Richard’s specialties, as well as interior design, which is what Liz started her career doing in residential design. Most importantly, the firm is founded on the Tischler’s three basic principles: work closely with clients; give 100% to every project, no matter the size; and always look for a new horizon.
Unfortunately, a few weeks after the firm opened for business came the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11th, less than thirty miles away from their headquarters. “Everything we had lined up evaporated overnight, and at that point we had a(small) child to support; we were terrified,” said Liz.
The relationships Liz and Richard had developed over the years came through. Tischler Haus took on one small job after another, working closely with their clients and establishing a tradition of flexibility.
“We have almost a family relationship with our clients,” Liz explained. “We do whatever we can to accommodate their needs. In the early years, we did all the hotels for one of our clients, right after the other, because of our close relationship with him/them.”
Each time they tried to branch out to more upscale hotels or different kinds of projects, Richard said their relationships came through. Their first Radisson project, for example, came from a contact they had worked with nearly 10 years before, and they broke into Starwood when a previous vendor recommended them.
The Tischler touch
Although both the hospitality and the construction industries are struggling in this recession, Tischler Haus has four projects in the works that Richard said are keeping them busy. Two are new construction in Manhattan: a 450-room Aloft and a full-service Sheraton. The other two are eccentric renovations/boutique hotels for of a Four Points by Sheraton and a Fairfield Inn by Marriott.
Richard spent the first 15/25 years of his career in renovation work, and that is what the company will always fall back on whenever new construction drops off or spikes, as it had in the early part of the decade.
“The business certainly is slowing down, but we’re looking into a few other renovation projects,” Liz added. “We prefer/excel in renovation and have a lot of experience in it, and right now is a great time for hotels to update their look.”
Richard added that renovation work allows the creative approach he and Liz take to design shine through. Both have experience working abroad, especially India and Asia, and use that to infuse one-of-a-kind touches into their work. One recent example is a boutique Hampton Inn in Manhattan: the restaurant has a stream running through the middle from a large, Buddha-inspired guardian, which the property owner features on the hotel’s holiday cards. The Tischler’s ordered the custom-made guardian from Indonesia, an extra touch that Richard said it makes it easy to pick a Tischler Haus hotel or restaurant out from a lineup.
All about integrity
Tischler Haus’s reputation has served it well, and Richard attributes most the firm’s success to his and Liz’s dedication to integrity.
“We maintain the same level of integrity to all our clients, no matter the size. If we are getting $15,000 for a project and I spend 10 hours on the design, that’s productive. But if it takes 30 hours for me to come up with a design that is the best for that property, then that’s what we do,” Richard explained. It may not be the most cost effective but at the same time it feeds our need to create.
He added that, even though the company is devoted to design, his and Liz’s experience in construction allow them to advise their clients, without prejudice, about the most cost effective ways to get the design they want.
Liz said, from the beginning, Tischler Haus also stands out because of is design boards, which are always the most elaborate of any company bidding for a project. Sometimes, she said, it takes five weeks just for the board, but it’s worth it because it makes their clients feel valued and secure. Richard added that if he wants to put etched glass in a design, for example, he builds the board and personally etches Lucite to make sure the idea will work.
“If it doesn’t work on the board, you can see it and you know that it won’t work full scale. We test everything so our clients know when they see our board, we can stand behind that design 100%,” he said.
The testing is done in Tischler Haus’ prototype studio where Richard and Liz can build a piece of furniture or try a new technique and see if it’s feasible for a property. Liz added that, unlike other firms, this one never uses the same design twice.
“We’re always moving forward: no one can force a particular design on a space, and when the design is right, we know,” she said.