Rounding off this year’s show season, editor Hamish Kilburn attends Sleep & Eat 2019 on the search for new product launches, sensational design concepts and more brands under one roof than in any other hotel design trade show in Europe…
It is often said that the sequel is never as impactful as the prequel. And although that may well be the case in the film industry, design is different. For the second year running, Sleep & Eat 2019 went west to found shelter at Olympia London, a hotly debated venue but a popular one no doubt during show season.
The show opened its doors on November 19 to offer designers, architects, operators and owners a unique chance to learn from the game-changers, while discovering new products and expand their thinking.
On the surface Sleep & Eat’s success from last year was matched with many of the same exhibitors taking the same positions as in 2018. The most significant statement from the 2019 show, however, took place in the lecture theatre, where a mix of interesting and colourful insights and debates became the highlight for many.
Amar Lalvani, CEO of Standard International, opened day one by sharing his experience oftransforming an ‘ugly’ and unloved building in London into a hotel that is now headline news around the world. Christoph Hoffman, CEO of 25Hours Hotels, opened day two and, in conversation with Conference Moderator, Heleri Rande, talked about the importance of “soul”. While his group has so notably charted its own course, hedeclared himself inspired by the great luxury hotels of the world. “It’s about keeping the stories alive,” he said. Josh Wyatt, CEO of NeueHouse, also delivered a captivating keynote. “More than ever before,design is essential to survive as the world becomes more crowded. Design is a defensive necessity,” he told the audience. “In NeueHouse, we are forging places where commerce and creativity collide, where new enterprises that will shape our futures will be conceived by our users.”
Panel topics were diverse and layered, from hotel F&B trends to managing and designing flexible public spaces and the meaning of eco in the luxury hotel experience, but all with an eye not just to the hospitality scene today but in the future. Architect, Richard Coutts, and engineer, Ben Fitzgerald, took the audience to the under- and above-water frontiers of their work, presenting a project destined for Hobart Harbour – an underwater hotel with public park on top – and the Under restaurant off the Norwegian coast. The knowledge, skills, vision and technology exist to harness our lakes, rivers and oceans for greater hospitality experiences, claimed the duo Design maverick and disrupter, Johannes Torpe, considered the future of hospitality in space but, despite his collaborations with NASA and his passion for space movies, he argued that there was still much work to do before space could be accessible for most of us. Instead, he called on the audience to create unearthly places on Earth, citing his Red Mountain resort project in Iceland, a spa and wellness retreat that will offer complete escape into Icelandic nature.
Sleep, Eat and Party in this year’s Room Sets
This year’s event theme of “Social FlexAbility” explored the power of hospitality to stimulate human interaction in our age of digital isolation. It proved to be just the challenge that six international architectural and design firms needed to create concept guestrooms, a bar and a restaurant which were inspiring in vision, intriguing in detail and astonishing in execution.
Yuna Merge, unveiled the VIP Area entitled ‘Gather’. The designer transformed Olympia Club Room into a whimsical flora and fauna-inspired space.
London-based hotel design practice twenty2degrees designed a concept guestroom to explore hospitality’s power to stimulate human interaction in our age of digital dislocation. Complete with a fully retractable bed and a tap that poured chilled negroni, the set utilised space, senses and colour.
“The process of designing the concept guestroom has been fascinating,” says Joe Stella, Creative Director and Partner of twenty2degrees. “Essentially, we were our own client freed from the usual constraints of commercial hotel design. We followed certain paths of thought, then found new sources of inspiration and were able to flip the aesthetic. We hope that the result of this creative license will be ideas that operators, owners and other visitors to our pop-up will want to take away with them and adapt for real-life projects.”
Other Set designers were HAT Design (guestroom), SpaceInvader (bar) and NAME Architecture (restaurant).
In the exhibition hall
More than 160 design-led suppliers – established and up-and-coming manufacturers, artisans and fit-out companies – chose Sleep & Eat 2019 to showcase their products and launch new collections. Some highlights included:
GROHE returned to Sleep & Eat for the 14th year and presented its most eclectic and diverse product offering yet, including its ground-breaking Icon 3D metal-printed taps on their first official UK outing.
Following Hotel Designs’ interview with designer Marcel Wanders one day prior, the team from Laufen unveiled the curtain on its latest collection, The New Classic.
Ammique, the world’s most technologically advanced bed, was at Sleep & Eat for the first time. The company launched its Platinum limited edition bed with a choice of three sensual fabrics created in collaboration with textile designer, Hannah White. Marlene Greenhalgh, Co-Founder of Ammique,says: “Having thought long and hard about taking space, we are utterly delighted that we decided to. We would unequivocally recommend anyone in the industry to consider investing in a stand at Sleep & Eat. It really is a show that delivers.”
Hansgrohe, which was an Event Partner at The Brit List Awards 2019 later in the week, launched its Rainfinity range and Sunbury Design launched Perception Collection in collaboration with renowned print designer, Amelia Graham. Meanwhile, both Bette and Kaldewei gave visitors the opportunity to test their materials themselves, with wire brushes, hammers, nail varnish and naked flames.
Morgan, which has just won Product of the Year at the FX Awards, unveiled a new stripped-back sustainable furniture collection, Kaya, which finds its roots in the openness, honesty and purity of trees.
Showing the design world it’s place as a premium shower supplier was Aqualisa, which was also an Event Partner at The Brit List Awards 2019. The company, which was the first to launch the digital shower to the hospitality market, was making noise with a range of new high-tech products.
There were cause of celebrations on the Knightsbridge stand as the British furniture company announced its 80th anniversary. In apt fashion, the brand displayed its design-led Caravelle collection, which was redeveloped to celebrate theanniversary and its rich history, taking influence from a past mid-century piece of furniture.
Also new to Sleep & Eat, Marie Martin, the range of exclusive lighting by the Dutch company Lumière, presented its lush and extravagant lighting fixtures. Stemming from a passion for interiors, this collection arose from the desire to unite a love for antiques, Paris, colour and fully decorated spaces.
Bette’s new Red Dot award-winning basin and luxurious circular bath made their UK debut at the show.
Other familiar brands at the show included: Astro Lighting, Roca, Interna UK, Chelsom, Grok, Northern Lights and Perrin & Rowe. Newcomers included Eichholtz, ILIV Contract Textiles and Absolute Lifestyle.
As tradition, Sleep & Eat presented two awards for best-designed stands, this year judged by designers, Constantina Tsoutsikou, Yasmine Mahmoudieh and Ben Webb together with architect, Angela Dapper and event director, Mark Gordon. Hospitality artwork suppliers, Verdigris Art, with artist in residence, Marcus Aitken, was awarded Best Stand, and luxury wallcoverings manufacturer, Arte, was the recipient of the Best Space-Only Stand Award.
Following the two-day event, industry experts gathered for an after-party style awards ceremony, The Brit List Awards 2019, which is where this year’s winners of seven individual awards were crowned, as well as where The Brit List 2019 was unveiled.
With rumours circulating, it is down to interpretation whether or not Sleep & Eat’s second year at Olympia London was as or more successful than its first year. Whether or not the show ‘hit the mark’ in your opinion, there was no denying that it was a engaging two-days of talks, networking opportunities and interesting product launches.
Have your say by tweeting us as @HotelDesigns. What was your highlight of Sleep & Eat 2019?
Main image credit: Rob Jones