Lisa Simeone and Gina Deary of KTGY Simeone Deary Design Group have been working side by side for the last two decades, designing dozens of award-winning projects. Their projects continue to receive worldwide recognition; in 2021 alone, the firm won three Gold Key Awards and Sleeper magazine’s AHEAD Award for best hotel renovation and restoration. To celebrate, we chat with the dynamic duo about their beginnings, working relationship and what we can expect next.
Lisa Simeone and Gina Deary celebrate 20 years of working together this year.
Sitting down with Lisa Simeone and Gina Deary, the pair are at ease with each other, both exuding a welcoming air of comfortable familiarity and respect. And it’s no wonder—the design mavens have been business partners for the last 20 years. The principals started as restaurant designers at another firm before, feeling stifled creatively, they teamed up to establish Simeone Deary Design Group (simeonedeary.com) in 2002. “Lisa really mentored me into how to be a part of the design world, and as a young businesswoman too,” Deary reminisces. Simeone agrees, adding, “I think our early business relationship was a lot about drawing and learning from each other.”
The well-appointed dining room at The Farm at Brush Creek Ranch
“We thought to ourselves that if we ever had a company, we would try to make it about design first,” Simeone says. They started small, growing over the years until their original two-person crew became an army of 60 employees. With notable projects such as Loews Chicago, Waldorf Astoria Chicago, LondonHouse and multiple restaurants in Universal Studios’ CityWalk under their belts, Simeone and Deary agree that their close friendship and always being transparent with one another is to thank for their longevity. The duo still share an office to this day: “I think people have always been surprised at that. We wanted to continue to share an office because we talk everything out—all of our business decisions, and whenever we have a problem with each other,” explains Simeone. “It’s like a marriage!”
The firm designed a chic lounge area with fun accents for Yours Truly DC.
And while they don’t typically work on projects together, the partners have nothing but praise for the other. Simeone describes Deary’s aesthetic as “very architectural,” adding, “She’s very thoughtful and intellectual about her approach.” Of Simeone, Deary notes, “Her initial phases are very, very creative and evolve as she goes along, resulting in incredibly multilayered and unique designs.” This dichotomy, paired with teamwork and determination, is an obvious key to their success, but the duo still finds ways to challenge themselves. Simeone says, “Gina and I are not the type of people to get a successful formula together and sit back. We like to keep evolving.” Enter KTGY Architecture + Planning (ktgy.com), with whom the pair joined forces in 2021, ultimately creating KTGY Simeone Deary Design Group. “We wanted to grow more, and this enabled us to get into new markets, which is really exciting,” explains Deary. Together, the companies have a collective vision for a fully integrated architecture, interiors, branding and planning practice that looks to the future.
A soothing suite at Hotel Kansas City featuring soft colors with bold pops of black
“I think that our relationship has evolved into something really unique and special because a lot of partnerships don’t make it through 20 years. We really, really have it. It’s grown into quite a mutual respect,” shares Simeone. Deary wholeheartedly agrees: “Making money with creativity is difficult, and I think that’s one of the things we’re super proud of, is that our staff is making their living doing what they love and creating art. This is what our goal is all the time.”
Photography by: MARIA PONCE; NATHAN KIRKMAN; MICHAEL ROBINSON/RW2 PRODUCTIONS