Carmelina Santoro is an Italian architect from Turin, Italy where she studied and graduated with a Ph.D. in Architecture at the Politecnico University of Torino.
Carmelina moved to New York in 1988 shortly after graduation, where, after couple of internship experiences at Bentley La Rosa Salasky Designs and Vignelli Associates, she landed a position at Peter Marino Architect, the architect of Dior, Chanel, LVMH, and many other high-end companies and private clients. At Peter Marino, she was exposed to great projects, including residential, commercial and even nautical ones, and she met other professionals that would come to contribute to her future professional growth.
After the joy of what she has often defined as her “best design ever,” the birth of her daughter Cecilia, Carmelina started the new century working on the project of designing a luxurious new resort, Laluna in Grenada. Through this unique project, Carmelina came to not only discover an incredible and special place in the world but also the hard work involved in construction, as the onsite project manager for the resort.
I believe that all designers love to leave a signature, whether it is a building, interior, installation or urban structure. I love for people that see my designs to remember their experience as comfortable and soothing, speaking to their soul, and possibly thinking that the designer must be a happy person!
While experiencing different levels of design on various NY residential projects and the Caribbean resort, Carmelina also had the chance to live the retail aspect of it, becoming Store Planning Manager for several Italian corporations in the United States, including Tod’s, Hogan, Bulgari, Ermengildo Zegna, and Brunello Cucinelli.
Carmelina Santoro Designs (CSD) is currently engaged in completing their second hotel project in South Beach, Miami, The Carlton, having completed the new Betsy Hotel, on Ocean Drive, in 2009. “Hospitality design is very exciting and fulfilling because it allows me to be creative, but practical and I can see my vision come to life publicly. Spaces are sometimes problematic, and achieving the proper comfortable feeling while making sure to include all features that are required, can be a difficult, but exciting and rewarding, challenge.”
This challenge drives Carmelina and allows her to create a ‘unique-ness’ that makes every one of her designs rich and full of life. Her personal approach to every project is to step out of any ‘comfort zone’, out of any ‘safe scheme’ that has been proven successful before, to look at each project as a completely new theme to explore and where inspiration always comes from the specific location, its history and its relationship with the geographical surroundings.