The Perfect Man for the Job | Interview with Brian Guze
Early exposure to retail and a passion for architecture lead Brian Guze to a unique academic training and a vast combination of experiences.
At a young age, Brian Guze was always drawing pictures of houses and exploring construction sites in his developing neighborhood. At the time, he had no idea that there was a career in designing homes. His uncle saw him drawing and told him he should be an architect. Following his passion and uncle’s advice, Brian went on to study at the University of Notre Dame where he got a unique classical education in architecture.
After graduating, Brian did what any architecture grad would be expected to do – work at a firm and get experience. When he found himself at TSC Design with few years of experience under his belt, he was charged with the Tiffany’s account.
After a few years working with Tiffany’s from the outside, The Director of Global Architecture and Interior Design approached him and asked him to come aboard at Tiffany’s. Without hesitation Brian accepted and stepped inside Tiffany’s blue world. He worked his way up and became the Director of Global Architecture and Interior Design.
“At Tiffany’s you lead with the dream. You’re selling the dream. That’s what brought me to the house of Tiffany & Co.”
Tiffany’s executed all of their store design in house and never hired anyone outside except on special projects. It was through these special projects that Brian had the opportunity to work with some of his living heroes.
37 Wall Street was unique situation (being the first time there had been 2 stores operating on Manhattan) & space for Tiffany’s so they enlisted the help of George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg. The space was from 1907 and came with a many rules and regulations. The Tiffany world was brought to life in new way, reinterpreted through the collaboration of Brian’s team and these outside sources. “I got to take off my Tiffany Blue blinders and do something different.”
During Brian’s time at Tiffany’s, he also got to work with Kengo Kuma, on the flagship ship store in Japan on the Ginza, as well as Robert A.M. Stern for the Jewelry Salon.
One project Brian has a lot of pride in is his team’s renovation of the Tiffany & Co. main floor on 5th Ave. “Our CEO’s goal for us was to update the main floor, which hadn’t been touched since 1940, without making it look like we did anything even if it cost millions of dollars.” If that wasn’t challenging enough for the team, they also had keep the store open throughout the renovations.
“Renovating a store is like open heart surgery. The doors have to stay open the entire time.”
Starbucks was an opportunity that never would have crossed Brian’s mind, had they not reached out. He went from designing stores where the customer’s would come in maybe twice a year, to designing a store where the customer’s visited twice a day! From luxury to food and beverage, it was a major career shift. “I went to Starbucks after hearing about their plans for a renaissance of design. I was really impressed with what they were doing.”
Starbucks was an entirely different world than Tiffany’s. Brian had 3,000 stores in his portfolio including a few flagship locations. “We tried to do something unique where we could, for each store.” Like with most companies, customers need to feel the overarching DNA of brand in its stores but also still feel that it speaks to them on a local level.
“Just like yourself, you stay true to who you are - but if you’re going to the beach you dress one way and if you’re going to the opera you dress another way - but you are still you.”
After accepting a call from a construction company in LA who was working on a top secret project- Dean & Deluca expansion- Brian spoke with Ole Scheeren, the architect on the project, and in no time signed his name and joined the project. It was almost as if the position was made just for him. He had exactly the experience for what Ole needed – “a high end place with the speed of a Ferrari engine.”
The team, based in Berlin, was working on a new concept for Dean & Deluca – fine casual. Brought on specifically for this, Brian relocated to Berlin, 19 days a month for a year and half, to work on this project. Though a crazy schedule, what the team produced was magnificent. The Stage was unveiled at Design Miami in 2016 and Dean & Deluca is looking to open their first few stores with this new concept in NYC.
Brian’s unique skill set and range of experience along with his willingness to take the opportunities that have come his way have been the key to his success. From a kid with a hobby for drawing plans to a retail architect with an amazing portfolio of work, Brian Guze made his dreams come true.