Sbe, the Los Angeles-based hospitality company that develops, manages and operates hotels, hired Michele Caniato as its chief brand officer. Starting Sept. 1, 2016, Caniato will be responsible for sbe’s brand and image development across all subsidiaries. Caniato will also advance the marketing, design and advertising for sbe. He will be based in New York.
“I have worked closely with Michele for the past 15 years and he has helped bring critical brands to sbe during the course of our previous partnership. It is a great honor that he will be joining our team as we move into a new era of expansions across all of our groups,” said Sam Nazarian, sbe founder and CEO. “Michele has an unrivaled background in design management and is widely regarded as ‘the design world’s number one power broker.’ His expertise and experience will profoundly impact sbe and our future. We are thrilled he will help us create the ultimate hospitality lifestyle experience.”
“The entrepreneurial spirit, vision and leadership brought to the company by Sam is contagious and exuberating. Sam and his team are one of the main reasons behind my decision to join the company,” Caniato said. “sbe has established itself in a very short time as an industry leader and with the major hotel platform acquisitions and host of amazing new brands, we have in our hands incredible diamonds and we need now to create an extraordinary piece of jewelry. I am honored to be sitting at the table with the team to mastermind how to take the company to the next level. Part of the job will be to tell the stories, to build memorable experiences, to break what is conventional and bring the unexpected into the hospitality industry with unique partners from a variety of different industries. This is going to be an incredible journey!”
Caniato has over two decades of experience in the industry. Prior to his current position, he was president and co–founder of Material ConneXion, a role he had held since 2008 though he has worked at the company since its inception 20 years ago. He grew the company to be the one of the design industry’s key resources in the world of materials and technologies. The consultancy helps companies innovate and create the products and services of tomorrow through smart materials and design thinking. Caniato oversaw the expansion of Material ConneXion from its original offices in New York to the company’s global presence in Thailand, Spain, Korea, Italy, Sweden and Japan along with an additional 23 international satellite materials libraries overseas. Material ConneXion now provides a critical cross-industry perspective on materials, design, new product development, sustainability and innovation. Clients include BMW, Apple, Disney, Colgate-Palmolive, Kering, Toyota, Starbucks and IKEA, among others.
In addition to his role at Material ConneXion, Caniato was also the president of the Culture + Commerce design management agency and strategic design consultancy, which he co-founded in 2001. Both Culture + Commerce and sister company Material ConneXion were acquired by Sandow in 2011. During his tenure as president, Caniato grew the company’s portfolio of designers and expanded its list of business relationships. He successfully put together a huge number of deals across a wide range of categories – from hospitality development and interior design to consumer products. He was responsible in finalizing strategic licensing and design collaboration between Kravitz Design and CB2, STARCK and Microsoft, Dror Benshetrit and TUMI, Paola Navone and Crate & Barrel, among others.
Additionally, Caniato was instrumental in the licensing expansion of Fred Segal, a company owned by Sandow and CAA. He secured the multiyear licensing contract in Japan.
Caniato speaks regularly on the business of design and has written a series of online articles for T: The New York Times Style Magazine, as well as guest-written articles for numerous other publications on design-related topics.
Caniato holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in architecture and industrial design from the Polytechnic University in Milan. He is originally from Milan, Italy.