Nov 16, 2011

Peek-a-Boo: Sense and Sensibility in Design

"Sense and Sensibility" in Hotel Design was the topic of the seminar I attended yesterday at Boutique Design New York and today's Peek-a-Boo post.

A great panel of organized by IIDA-NY Hospitality Co Chairs, Nancy Jackson & Bruno Viterbo, included a wide range of movers and shakers in the world of hospitality.





"How does residential design influence or not the design of commercial spaces?"

This was the question I posed to the panelists.
Whether we specialize in Residential Design or not, there is a undeniably a direct relationship between these two worlds and as designers it is important for us to understand how the creators of these spaces are defining our experiences. Whether for business or pleasure, each and every one of us wants to be transported when we enter into a hotel - especially a Boutique Hotel..

Here are a only but a few of the key points from discussion:
  • We must leave client with enough tangible memories that allows them to walk away and be able to describe the experience;
  • Each space must have a vibe, an energy, a soul, like a scent or music that stays with you;
  • We must remaining aware of the impact of how cultural differences may alter our interpretation of the experience and design;
Example: Super8 Motel, in Asia it is considered a more luxurious brand than in the US, through the importance of the red & gold logo and the use of the number "8" which has an enormous significance, etc - Matoula Karagiannis

THE EXPERIENCE is key. When visiting a hotel, whether only for a brief moment as we walk through the lobby or while we rest our heads in our rooms, in addition to the great design, there were some special customer services which are now begin offered in order to enhance our experience.
  • the "vibe master" - who is responsible for walking the space and continuously modulating the experience, whether providing the guests with snacks or changing the mood by slightly altering the lighting and music..
  • Fred Segal Lending Library, a collection of on-loan jewelry, purses, sunglasses and other style accessories from Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel;
  • or the luggage robots at the Yotel in NYC which help you get to your room;


"The importance for Authentic Design within an inspired experience, while remaining flexible and true to your brand identity as a creative..."

Two examples referenced as good examples of good design, with strong brand identity and yet providing an amazing overall experience were The Bowery Hotel and Ace Hotel in NY.

The Bowery Hotel

Ace Hotel
While remaining true to their brand and culture, each location remains different and site specific in it's design and overall experience.
The swing back to a more "homey and comfort food - like design" is another way of translating the authentic design experience. - Tony Machado.
Another great example is the Crosby Hotel, which was part of my detailed post on the Kit Kemp from a few weeks ago.

An examples of how this would translate: when we design homes in New Hampshire, or the beach house in the Hamptons; we may introduce our own design aesthetic and incorporate the choices of our clients, but we always must respect where the experience is taking place.

Matt Turner from Sleeper Magazine reminded us that these hotels are also good examples of how designers that were once film set designers, have managed to create stories that the client becomes a part of...and introduced another example: The Michelberger Hotel in Berlin.

Images from Michelberger Hotel LOOK BOOK

Randall Stone left us all with a thought of the new trend he would like to start "...the creation of a unique service model first, and then the design manifestation would follow...it would be the hotel we would all want to stay in".
or simply put by Matt Turner:.."think about the guest, and then work backwards.."
I, for one, wish it would catch on!
Imagine designing a home or a commercial space where the process was reversed - the use and functionality of the space was key and the outer layers were applied to that space. It really would be the ideal way of approaching any interior design.

And the answer to my question?

While the panel commented how they were always contacted after the opening of a hotel for their sources, in order to allow guests to purchase some of the accessories they liked for themselves.

The West Inn took it one step further, and offers a "Buy the Room" option to it's guests...hmmm... maybe they need an interior designer?
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