Hotec Design buyer profile: Clodagh Design's Jose Achi

Jose Achi, senior director of design development at Clodagh Design, is set to attend the 20th Hotec Design, an annual conference presented by Questex Hospitality, the parent company of Hotel Management. At the conference, buyers meet one on one with hospitality-focused suppliers to learn about new products and services and to keep up to date on emerging trends. 

Achi grew up, as he describes it, in a family “full of architects” in Miami. While his father was a civil engineer, all of his uncles were architects. As a child, he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps, but soon found himself drawn to the more artistic side of the industry. His seventh-grade art teacher, Ms. Perez, “opened this whole world of art” to him, driving him to the intersection of art and engineering: architecture.  

With his interest piqued, Perez later introduced Achi to Design and Architecture Senior High, a magnet school in Miami that teaches a wide range of design arts: “Interior design, graphic design, industrial design, fashion design. … I got a little bit of everything,” Achi said. “I had my extra classes—like my art classes and my architecture classes—that I had to take on top of the … basic core classes.” Determined to remain in the field after graduation, he went to Georgia Institute of Technology after graduation, but quickly realized that the school was not the right fit for him. Heading to Los Angeles, he earned his Bachelor of Architecture degree at The Southern California Institute of Architecture in 2002.

Jose Achi

He went to New York City not long after graduation while the city's economy was still recovering from the effects of the 9/11 attacks and there was little architectural work to be found. After several months of doing whatever jobs he could, he became a project designer at Workshop/APD and then project manager at Groves & Co. By the spring of 2008, he was ready to return to Los Angeles to be an architect with Dodd Mitchell Design. “This is what I wanted to do in the first place—go back to L.A. and kind of rule,” he said. At Dodd Mitchell, Achi began working on hotels and came to appreciate the opportunities available on that side of the business. 

As the Great Recession slowed development and the real estate market, Achi returned to New York for a stint with Clodagh Design before going back to Groves & Co., this time as creative director. After a year with Crème / Jun Aizaki Architecture & Design, he went back to Clodagh—at the request of the company’s eponymous and mononymous founder—and has remained with the business for seven years—his longest stint with a company in his career. “[Clodagh] and I were having a conversation over the phone and I said, ‘You know I'm here for the long run. I'm not going anywhere. This is the longest I've been somewhere.’ And I said, ‘You won, Clodagh.’” 

Different Methodologies

Achi credits his decision to remain with the company to the camaraderie of its team and to Clodagh herself, as well as the “creative and very interesting” work the team does. “We have different methodologies of work,” he explained. “We work with feng shui. We work with biogeometry. We work with different ways of thinking that could be considered ‘new age,’ but it's just a different way of seeing things, a different methodology.” 

At Clodagh, Achi has worked on Hyatt Hotels Corp.'s Miraval wellness-focused hotels in Tucson, Ariz.; Austin, Texas; and Lenox, Mass., while helping to develop the brand’s standards and styles for current and future hotels. As wellness travel becomes more mainstream, the Clodagh team is incorporating wellness elements into all of its projects. “All of our projects in hospitality have asked for some kind of wellness [features], and they know with us it just comes as part of the package," Achi said. "They don't need to ask. We do it anyway, whether you ask for it or not.” 

The 20th anniversary Hotec Design conference in June will be the first that Achi has attended, although his colleague Nancie Min, design director for the company, attended last year. “Once Nancie went and she downloaded on me everything that went on, I was like, ‘Oh, I definitely should go and take a look and speak to people and see what's happening and what people have to offer,’” he said. Achi attends numerous other design trade shows and appreciates the opportunity to see what different companies are developing. “But the hard part with that is that it's so big [that] people don't have time to really talk to you,” he said. “You don't have really that much time to kind of sit one on one and ask the questions that you want to ask. So I think smaller events like this allow us to ask those questions, get more in depth with [the] product and then really be able to sell it to a client.”

The 2023 Hotec Design conference will take place June 19-22 at the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz. Registration is open for both buyers and suppliers.