In conversation with: Alex Bauman-Lyons, Head of Design at edyn

With Whitworth Locke having recently partnered with Hotel Designs for our Meet-Up North, we found time to chat to Head of Design Alex Bauman-Lyons to find out more about both the challenges and the opportunities of working for the edyn brand as it continues to challenge boundaries and shift the focus of lifestyle hospitality design…

Alex Bauman-Lyons Head of Design edyn group

MEET UP North 2022 took place after a two year break in the creative centre of Manchester, surrounded by the design and energy of the region. The day started with a panel discussion exploring design development in the North, exploring the North/South design divide (is there one or has design transcended those boundaries?), and ended on an energetic note of noisy networking. With Alex Bauman-Lyons in the house representing edyn on the panel, we spoke to him a little more about the design direction behind the brand.

Hotel Designs: What were you doing before working for edyn?

Alex Bauman-Lyons: I spent the early part of my career at Grimshaw Architects, working on huge infrastructure projects like London Bridge Station and Heathrow airport. In many ways it was as far from hospitality as you can get, but it gave me great experience solving complex design issues. After that I worked at Duggan Morris Architects (now Morris and Co) before moving to Buenos Aires for a few years, where I worked as a remote freelancer. I started collaborating a lot with Fran Hickman, working on some amazing projects such as NASAB in Dubai and the Chess Club in Mayfair. edyn became a key client of mine and they tempted me over to work for them full time!

statement lighting over the table at Beckett Locke

Image credit: Beckett Locke/ edyn

HD: Where’s the most interesting creative district that edyn has a property in, and why?

AB-L: We are opening a Locke hotel in Zurich next year, which I’m really excited about. The hotel is located in the Enge neighbourhood of the city, which is not only beautiful, but boasts an excellent selection of restaurants and bars, as well as amazing outdoor markets and festivals just a stone’s throw away in Landstrasse. The city has a great creative vibe, and I’m confident that Locke will fit in well with the city’s diverse and cosmopolitan community.

HD: Can you describe the design DNA of Locke and Cove?

AB-L: The beauty of Locke is that each property is completely different, but they are linked by an underlying design ethos. The design response is always a reaction to the locality, inspired by the city, the street or the site itself. The front of house spaces are designed for the local community, so it is important that the design is welcoming and inclusive. We push the boundaries at Locke, so inevitably each property will not be for everyone, but that’s okay. For us its proof that we are doing something bold and unique. Cove is a very different approach. Great design is still at the heart of the product, but the approach is more familiar and residential. It is less about a specific response to the location and more about evoking a sense of home. The FF&E and finishes are selected to reflect the way we furnish our homes – unrelated, yet complimentary pieces that are collected over time.

dark green wall makes a statement backdrop to the communal space in Cove The Hague

Image credit: Cove The Hague / edyn

HD: You have an aggressive pipeline. What challenges/opportunities does that present?

AB-L: We certainly do! We are incredibly lucky to have the opportunities we do, and I would never bemoan it. Our plan is to open in every major gateway city in Europe. It’s a pretty cool mandate – go and build Locke’s and Cove’s in all the best cities in Europe! As exciting as it is, of course it is challenging. My primary focus is to maintain the soul of our brands as we scale. With Locke in particular, we design each property in a unique way, we work with different designers, architects and artists from project to project, often in countries we have never worked in before. None of these things are particularly conducive to rapid scale so there are always temptations to do things more efficiently. Our job at edyn Development Studio is adopting efficiencies that do not compromise our ethos while rejecting those that do. If we succumb to the latter, we will go the way of so many brands who become mediocre and irrelevant as they grow.

HD: Where are the design boundaries with the edyn portfolio?

AB-L: We embolden our designers to be as adventurous as they can be, but of course there are parameters we have to work within. As a vertical platform, we develop, own and operate our properties. This gives us invaluable insight into how our spaces are used in the real world. That real-time feedback is so insightful and helps us to know what works and – critically – what doesn’t work! We accept that making mistakes is part of being a trailblazer, but we work closely with our designers to ensure the same mistakes are not repeated.

bright yellow sofa in public area of Schwan Locke in Munich

Image credit: Schwan Locke / edyn

HD: How is the group breaking down perceptions of luxury/lifestyle hospitality?

AB-L: With Locke, we have merged the extended-stay and lifestyle sectors. Taking its cue from the evolving and varied demands of the modern traveller, Locke blends the advantages and design of a lifestyle hotel with the space and flexibility of an apartment. Before Locke, these sectors were seen as being diametrically opposed. The extended-stay offer was bland and utilitarian whereas the lifestyle sector was cool but often at the expense of comfort and amenities. Of course, this divide didn’t make any sense. Why would someone travelling for several weeks be any less sensitive to the design quality? Why can’t you provide excellent amenities such as kitchens in your studio as well as adventurous design? Locke has demonstrated that you can take the best of both sectors to create something unique.

HD: What does a typical day in your life look like?

AB-L: Thanks to my two kids aged one and two, my day always begins at 5am, regardless of what I did the night before. Beyond that, there is no such thing as a typical day. We work across all stages of development and operations, so in a single day I can be working on a feasibility study for a potential acquisition, watching a designer pitch for a new scheme, attending a site visit, and meeting with a GM to review a trading asset. Being a European-wide platform, I do travel a lot which is a real privilege but also very tiring! At edyn, we are flexible work absolutists. With such chaotic diaries, we need to have full control over our working hours. It gives me the chance to pick my kids up from nursery and then work later in the evening if I need to, which I am very grateful for.

Main image credit: edyn