A guide to hotel design pt 1:
Are you sitting comfortably?
This is the first in an intended series guiding the layman through what a hotel designer is, the different sorts of designers, and how to manage the design process. It will include section on the different areas of the hotel and suggest criteria for their design. The series will be available initially only to DesignClub members, from whom comments are invited. The completed work will eventually be made available as a downloadable pdf from the HotelDesigns website.
About the writer
The first question you will ask is who is he to do this? Well, my friend, I am not the best qualified person in the world, and there are those in the Chartered Society of Designers (the professional body representing interior designers) and the Design Council who will shudder at the thought at what I might say. There are also others in the profession who I look up to and acknowledge as more professional and experienced than I – but whilst I will take advice and criticism from them, and willingly incorporate it into this series (just send it to me, guys), the feedback I have had from users of the HotelDesigns website is that the profession is not understood and its capabilities are underestimated. As the man said, ‘somebody has got to do it’!
So here I am, the product of over 40 years in the art and design world, ten years spent practising art and teaching designers, twenty years practising as a designer and the remainder studying or writing about art and design. As a designer I founded a practise, and my partner and I ran it together for twenty years, in the process picking up two European Design Awards, an award from the International Spa Association for Spa Design and accolades from the press. During that time I worked on over 400 projects throughout the UK and beyond, in a practise that grew to employ at one stage 21 designers in London.
For the last eight years, since 2002, I have created and edited HotelDesigns, visiting and photographing, with the assistance of a team of elves, some 140+ hotels around the globe, acting as a development consultant to Hotel development companies, speaking at conferences and advising manufacturers on the Hotel Design business.
So Why Bother?
Interior designers are a profession that is not a profession. At one extreme there are highly qualified architects and postgraduates with M.A.’s, PhD’s and professional qualifications ‘up the ying yang’ whilst at the other end of the spectrum are unqualified people who choose to advise on colours, using their taste as their qualification.
Sadly all these are employed by Hoteliers in the expectation that they are going to get an equally professional design service, and famously even the chairman’s partner gets a hand in. If this appears disparaging I would add that sometimes these individuals are more professional, qualified and even more brilliant, like Firmdale Hotel’s Kit Kemp or Anouska Hempel of Blakes and the Hempel fame, than many a humdrum ‘professional’ architect or designer.
The problem this poses for Clients is in knowing what they are getting when they pay their money, how to frame a brief, and how to distinguish between the different skills on offer from the members of the team that make up the construction industry professionals. My aim is to strip away some of the mystery, explain the different training the professionals receive and hopefully enable a more fruitful use of the designers to grow from an increased understanding of the possibilities on offer within the spectrum that makes up the interior design world.