In conversation with: Damien Perrot, Global Chief Design, Accor

As we start anticipating the new trends and continuing conversations at trade shows like HIX 2023 taking place later this year, we caught up with Accors’ Damien Perrot to find out a little more about the Novotel design shift which was showcased on the Ligne Roset stand at HIX 2022…

Ligne Roset sample room for Novotel designed by RF Studio

The guestroom concept in the spotlight, designed by RF Studio and manufactured by Ligne Roset Contract, was one of four chosen by Novotel. Taking centre stage on the Ligne Roset stand last year, visitors were able to get a hands-on experience of how the design would come to life. In addition, editor Hamish Kilburn hosted an exclusive conversation within the stand where Belgian designer Ramy Fischler, who designed the concept on display, joined Perrrot, talking us through the concept from both a design and a hospitality and brand perspective.

This was part of a bold shift by the Novotel brand away from standardised concepts for its pipeline. Working with designers to create four distinct visions, Novotel saw the path forward as providing flexibility to its owning and franchise partners, allowing each to chooses and work with a style that was best suited to the destination and the location. The brief encapsulated the direction that hotel design was and still is, moving towards, as design teams were invited to submit concepts that included a lively social hub that would appeal to locals as well as guests and a modern, intuitive and ageless design that would incorporate high-quality, sustainable materials.

detail of bedroom design for Novotel by Ligne Roset

Image credit: Ligne Roset / Thierry Sauvage

Hotel Designs: Novotel recently collaborated with four designers to introduce the brand vision of modern 21st century style – can you tell us a bit more about this vision?

Damien Perrot: We pushed the boundaries to conceive modern and intuitive design ideas, aligned with what guests want today as well as what they will expect tomorrow and where each object or element serves a specific purpose. All the chosen designs responded to this request brilliantly, ensuring status and timelessness while taking Novotel’s style to new heights. We presented a unique task to the design teams, challenging them to bring higher-end design concepts to a midscale brand where affordability is still a key factor.

HD: Who are the designers you have chosen to work with and what have they brought to the Novotel table?

DP: RF Studio delivered an adaptable, sustainable, easy to renovate concept that delivers a homey feeling and unexpected atmosphere; guests are encouraged to discover a new way of hotel living and feel like they are at the heart of a village.

Metro imagined a concept modelled around Novotel’s maxim of ‘Time is on your side’. This modern design concept features natural tones and raw materials, inviting guests to enjoy a multifunctional and flexible space that evolves throughout the day.

Sundukovy Sisters created a concept blending business with pleasure and mixing well-being among unique ‘co-living’ spaces that embrace lively, social surroundings, current trends and timeless comforts.

Hypothesis finally offered a concept with a focus on reducing not only physical waste, but also reducing wasted space and time. This design concept allows guests to achieve the balance they seek during their stay.

render of Novotel social hub design by RF studio

Image credit: Novotel

HD: How does this shift support Accor’s vision to blur brand guidelines?

DP: This shift with Novotel, but also brands like ibis or Mövenpick, brings flexibility thanks to design concepts offering modernity, several programming choices, space organisations and styles, to create a guest experience unique for each hotel. Our goal is to bring the inside hotel experience outside in order to make both travellers and locals feel welcome. We also aim at increasing our investors profitability.

HD: The Novotel designer collaborations are about introducing design led interiors into a mid-range hotel – something previously the realm of high-end hospitality. How have consumer design expectations evolved in recent years?

DP: Our guests want to be free to choose the best place depending on what they want to do. Design is not just aesthetic. Our ambition is to elevate our eco, midscale and premium brands, by offering to our local and traveller guests, spaces that are modern, vibrant, open to the city, where they can work, play, eat, do what they need to do. All guests request a great design and so, we worked with talented designers for our luxury, lifestyle, but also premium, midscale and eco hotels. I would say that guests do not choose anymore their hotel depending on the segment, but on their need, the purpose of their stay, etc. They will never compromise on design. Moreover, a lot of guests experience all segments. That’s why Accor puts the design in the heart of its strategy to be recognised by guests on this topic.

HD: Accor is a portfolio of very strong individual brands – is there a common thread despite the differences?

DP: We aim at placing the hotel as one of the main points of interest in the city. There should always be a city-hotel at 15 minutes from home able to answer to both travellers and locals needs. We adapt our hotels design strategy to the society evolution by working with designers who have this ‘reset’ capacity and who can envision how people will live tomorrow. Our guests can stay in an economic hotel one day because of a one-night stop in their travel and stay in a 5-star hotel another day because of a special occasion. What is the most important, is what they will live there and the emotions they will feel and remember.

With this year’s theme at HIX being ‘A room with a point of view’, the theme of personalisation and a break away from standardised branded design would appear to be here to stay. With Novotel and Accor having set this particular design ball rolling boldly forward, it will be interesting to see how the journey progresses as travellers and guests increasingly demand greater personalisation in tandem with local and experiential travel. The challenge remains for brands to achieve a signature hotel experience while moving away from standardisation – and possibly, creating that room with a point of view.

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Main image credit: Ligne Roset / Thierry Sauvage