Building Emotions

Friday, January 9, 2015 | 6:47 pm

Can a building be dramatic? Can a façade evoke emotion? Or a room, capture your imagination?

Of course they can, says David Shema, a Pasadena designer whose interior design firm Shema Dougall Design Associates has played winning hands for years designing compelling restaurants and casinos in the high-stakes crucible of Las Vegas.

“We design through emotion,” Shema says. “Like artists, we seek to make an emotional connection with those who experience our work.”

2015-01-12-Shema-Dougall-Version1-300x250Many of us –  maybe even most of us –  have seen or experienced some of the places Shema’s firms have helped almost magically to conceive and create: The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, The Venetian Resort & Casino, Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino and Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, to name drop.

The hallmark of all these places and of Shema Dougall Design’s work itself is fanciful imagination that evokes emotional reactions from the people walk through their entrances. We’ve all felt that wonder of a place that captures our imagination and transports us. It’s that mesmerizing surrender that Shema Dougall Design has honed so well.

That skill set blossoms into fanciful restaurants and retail and hospitality and casino settings, Shema says.

We strive, he says, to create “something new” for each project – “something you can’t get anywhere else.”

And because his firm has crafted and created at all scales, from intimate to grandiose, their ability to imagine evocative restaurants and retail is tantalizing.

The process starts (and proceeds) as a collaboration with the client, Shema says, starting with a very clear discussion of “who they’re targeting and where they want to position themselves within the market.”

That’s a huge aspect of how we integrate our work,” Shema emphasizes.

There are times clients are concerned the project is too high-end and imaginative, and others where clients worry their changes aren’t bold enough and they are losing the opportunity to up their game noticeably.

For them, Shema’s experience makes him a useful sounding board. The firm has completed projects around the globe, in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, Macau in China and Durban in South Africa.

Closer to home, Shema Dougall Design is remaking The Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens.

“We’re going to freshen it up and bring a new level of quality,” Shema says. “We’re going to really push it to evolve.”

For more about Shema Dougall Design Associates, please call (626)432-6464 or visit

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