At the helm of ICRAVE, is Lionel Ohayon, one of the most renowned names in hospitality design. Over the last eight years, Lionel has grown ICRAVE from a two-person operation into a 35-employee, multi-million dollar business. A Canadian-born designer, Lionel graduated from the University of Waterloo School of Architecture in 1994. His thesis project was titled ‘Where we Work, Where we Live, Where we Play’ and focused on the impact of virtual space on real space. This investigation continues in the studio where Lionel maintains the thesis by creating environments that are both meaningful and born from imagination.
The name ICRAVE reiterates the desire to create something impactful; the use of the copyright symbol shows that the idea being designed is protected. Lionel approaches design from a sociological standpoint, always thinking in terms of city planning and people’s interactions with each other. This philosophy has stayed with him throughout his career and across different disciplines. ICRAVE is Lionel’s outlet to produce unique spaces and experiences, actively engaging visitors in their environment.
Lionel is intimately involved in all studio projects – he sparks the creative vision and works with the individual project teams as an editor to ensure the design strategy is always succinctly communicated.
Anthony received his master's degree from Tulane University School of Architecture in New Orleans. He is also a licensed and registered architect in the State of New York, Nevada, California and New Jersey, and is NCARB Certified.
Anthony's exposure to design and construction started at a very young age, working weekends and summers at his family's owned and operated architectural millwork business. He worked on numerous projects for clients such as Fendi, Gucci, Saks Fifth Avenue and New York University to name a few.
While attending Tulane University, Anthony's architecture internships included working for award winning firms such as Studio Eskew (currently known as Eskew+Dumez+Ripple) in New Orleans and Barteluce Architects in New York City (which has currently merged with Callison).
Upon graduation, Anthony's professional career began at Kohn Pedersen Fox in his hometown of New York City where he made considerable contributions to such projects as the Harborside Financial Center Plaza 4A in Jersey City and the Columbus Indiana Learning Center. Anthony was also a member of the second place Martin Luther King, Jr., International Memorial Competition team for KPF.
David serves as Team Leader at ICRAVE, and has been a part of the ICRAVE team since 2005. David has managed several large scale airport projects including Delta Terminals C and D at La Guardia Airport, Terminal G at Minneapolis St-Paul Airport and the gate hold areas at Toronto-Pearson International Airport Terminals 1 and 3 helping to transform the dining experience in Airports managing and directing the team to create a new model for airport dining, successfully completing over 40 new airport dining concepts. David has been a key member on numerous projects during his tenure at ICRAVE. Since his first project at ICRAVE as a project manager for Max Brenner through several recent projects for Memorial Sloan Kettering. David has taken this expertise into creating a unique market experience at the World Financial Center’s Le District. David studied Architecture at the University of Buffalo and went on to receive his Masters of Architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2004.
After working in product design on everything from fashion to furniture, Elizabeth joined ICRAVE in 2011 to incorporate her experience into architectural and interior design concepts. Since joining ICRAVE, Elizabeth has worked on every phase of design from concept through construction on countless restaurant and hospitality projects including Le District, The Little Beet and STK Rebel. She leads the strategy and brand architecture group, helping clients redefine themselves and their industries by using the techniques of experience design.
Her notable projects include working with one of the largest food operators in the nation on strategizing and reimagining the campus of 2030, the initial concept design and brand rollout for MADE Market, a new prototype food & beverage concept for DoubleTree Hotels, and the development of strategies for nationwide brands of all sizes.
Prior to joining the ICRAVE team, Elizabeth worked as a product designer for Target Corporate Headquarters in Minneapolis, MN and Shanghai, China. Elizabeth received her Master’s degree in Architecture from Columbia University.
Gregory Merkel is a Creative Director at ICRAVE and has been with the company for nearly 8 years. Greg received his BA in Architectural Studies from Tufts University in 2002 and received his M Arch from the Rhode Island School of Design in March 2005. Prior to joining the ICRAVE team, Greg worked at Jeremiah Eck Architects in Boston, Massie Architecture in Troy, NY and Fernlund + Logan in New York.
Greg has been an integral part of countless restaurant and hospitality projects in his tenure at ICRAVE. He designed and managed the LAVO Restaurant & Nightclub project in New York in 2010. This is one of the highest grossing restaurants in the country, managed by TAO Group. He also managed the Dusk Nightclub project at Caesars Palace in Atlantic City in 2009. The total project schedule for this 8,000 sq ft gut renovation was 8 months from concept through construction completion. Greg was also the lead designer on the Bank Nightclub project at the Bellagio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas and was an integral part of the design of the W Atlanta Midtown Hotel. Greg spearheaded the design team for the renovation of Prado Café, ICRAVE’s first project in Moscow. Since this was ICRAVE’s first project in Moscow, understanding local customs and regionality was of utmost importance. ICRAVE is currently developing the concept and brand for a new quick service salad concept in New York. Greg is leading the design team including branding, digital experience and design. Greg is an extremely talented designer, leader and mentor in the studio.
As the Creative Director of Strategy and Brand Development at ICRAVE, Jesse has provided creative vision and leadership for projects of all shapes including building up boutique brands like The Little Beet in New York, creating roll-out brands for public companies like Hilton and STK, driving comprehensive hotel projects like the Sir A’DAM hotel in Amsterdam opening in 2016, and reinventing cancer care delivery for Memorial Sloane Kettering’s new patient facilities in NYC.
Recently, Jesse has been working to master plan new neighborhood developments in Miami and Washington, D.C. His team is also working with one of the world’s leading food management companies to identify shifts in higher education and reimagine college campuses for the class of 2030.
Previously he was Senior Design at Puccini Group where he led the branding and design of notable hospitality projects - including the renovation of The Georgian Terrace a historic hotel, restaurant, and residential tower in Midtown Atlanta. Prior to Puccini, he managed store planning and design at global luxury jewelry brand David Yurman – there he managed the design and execution of over 100 in-store boutiques, 10 flagship stores, and multi-million dollar exhibition projects around the world. An expert in strategy, hospitality and experience design, Jesse has been interviewed by Wallpaper* and Sleeper Magazine, and has spoken on Hotel Business and Hospitality Design panels
Born in the Netherlands, Renée received her BA in interior design from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in The Hague. This was followed by an MA in Architectural Lighting from Parsons New School of Design in NY. Previous work includes time as a senior designer/project manager for Cooley Monato Studio, an award winning and prestigious Lighting Design office.
Renée joined ICRAVE as Lighting Director to set up the Lighting Department and to help fully integrate interior and lighting design. She is currently a member of IALD, DLF and IES. She has taught at Parsons The New School; Integrated Studio III (combining architecture, interior and lighting design) in 2009, 2010, 2012 and also organized Luminous Talks event in 2013.