With IHIF currently taking place in Berlin, Hotel Designs took the opportunity to catch up with Eric Jafari on a slightly less formal note, looking beyond the brand in a quick-fire round of questions…
Eric Jafari along with edyn, has made an indelible and undeniable mark on the hospitality and hotel design scene, with a strong design message and a mission of connectivity and locality. With IHIF providing the more serious backdrop, Jafari will be taking the knowledge and insight from his experience in building brands under the edyn banner to the stage, in the Pitch your Brand panel discussion. In the meantime, this quick-fire conversation was more personal than pitch, and kicked off with a ‘where in the world’ question that led seamlessly into a paradigm shift!
Hotel Designs: If you had to live anywhere in the world – excluding where you live now – for one year, where would it be?
Eric Jafari: I love London and would always pick it, but if London is off the cards, I’d pick Tokyo. I have never been, but I have discovered that the more foreign the environment, the greater my personal evolution. I recognise that for many, one would assume somewhere sunny and tropical but with respect to where I am currently in my personal journey in life, I am more concerned with personal growth than I am in escapism. I am interested in having my paradigm challenged. I have read a fair bit on Japanese culture / design and the premise of ‘ikagai’ and I’m interested in exploring this first-hand over an extended period of time. I would try to summarise what this means but couldn’t do it justice. For readers that are interested, feel free to look it up!
I would also love for my British kids to be immersed in a completely foreign culture like Japanese one. It would be incredibly formative for them.
HD: Biggest bugbear when checking in to a hotel?
EJ: I have many: music, food, design, etc. If I had to pick one, it would be a soulless experience. When I visit a city, I want a hotel that reflects the essence of that locality. I don’t want a cookie-cutter replica of an experience that I have had elsewhere. Staying in a hotel abroad, even for business, is an opportunity for me to be exposed to something different, something foreign, something beautiful – maybe even something uncomfortable.
Anything but bland and predictable.
HD: Where in the world would you like to open a hotel, if budgets/planning was not an issue?
EJ: It would be in Marrakech, Morocco. Marrakech is a sensory wonderland steeped in culture, beauty and history and yet seems to be missing the type of lifestyle resort that one would expect there to be. Gypset hot spots such as Tulum and Mykonos have drawn a considerable amount of design inspiration from Morocco and yet Morocco appears to lack a comparable experience of its own. I would love to one day take my learnings from Locke, birch and my travels abroad and incorporate them all into an immersive lifestyle ecosystem that connects the urban traveller with Moroccan magic. I am hopeful that it’s only a matter of time before this happens.
HD: What was your first ever job?
EJ: My first real job was selling books door to door to put myself through university. During my summers in university, I worked 80-hour weeks to save enough money to take fall quarter off so that I could go backpacking across a foreign part of the world.
It was an incredible experience because I was relocated with other college kids to a different US state (often somewhere rural) and exposed to a different way of life than that to which I was accustomed. I came to the quick realisation that my reality was not everyone’s reality and that one’s setting defined one’s outlook – and that many were prisoners to this outlook without realising it.
By contrasting this foreign setting (in the US) with the foreign settings (China, Peru, etc.) that I was exposed to whilst backpacking abroad, I found that I learned just as much through my work and travels as I did in university – if not more so.
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With Locke Hotels falling into the edyn brand portfolio, Hotel Designs is excited to be hosting MEET UP North, at Whitworth Locke in the heart of Manchester on May 19, 2022. The theme of the event will be ‘development in the North’ in line with the Manchester – and other Northern hotspots, such as Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, Leeds and Birmingham – being hives of hotel development.
Main image credit: edyn