On June 23, hundreds of leading designers, architects and hoteliers from around the world tuned in for the debut of Hotel Designs LIVE.
The new one-day virtual conference, hosted by editor Hamish Kilburn from his hometown of Whitstable in England, broadcasted live conversations with industry experts on topics such as technology, public areas, sleep and wellness. In his opening speech, Kilburn explained how the concept emerged. “Hotel Designs LIVE (sponsored by Technological Innovations Group) was born in the chaotic realms of the coronavirus crisis,” he said. “It is our way – and we believe the most meaningful method – to keep the industry connected while also keeping the conversation flowing.”
Seminar 1: technology
To kick-start the event in a spectacular fashion, Jason Bradbury made a dramatic entrance, on a hover board (we wouldn’t expect anything less). The former presenter of The Gadget Show, who has built an international career as a futurology and tech-trends corporate speaker, took the microphone to start the conference’s debut session entitled: Technology’s role in tomorrow’s hotel.
Seminar 2: public areas
Following a quick-fire interview with Technological Innovations Group, the event’s headline sponsor, and after Jason Bradbury took the mic the debut session entitled Technology’s Role in tomorrow’s hotel, Kilburn launched the first panel discussion of the day, which was entitled: Will public areas ever be the same?
Emma King (Head of Design (Europe) IHG), Alon Barronwitz (Director at Baranowitz + Kronenberg) and Geraldine Dohogne (Founder of Beyond Design) got comfortable on the virtual sofa to discuss the difficult reality of public areas post-pandemic. The main takeaways were adapting as designers to meet modern consumer demands to create flexible and clean spaces, while embedding discreet technology to enhance the guest experience. The panel also discussed the need for intuitive public areas for ‘bleisure’ guests.
Stylo Graphics, which sponsored the session, asked the panel whether they have managed to implement directional signage controls and physical distancing measures to safeguard guest and staff wellbeing whilst maintaining great guest experience. King responded: “We have adjusted layouts of public areas and included social distancing measures in our hotels. To do this effectively, we have ensured that the colours and styles we have used are in keeping with our brand standards.”
Seminar 3: sleep
Up next, steering the conversation away from the pandemic, Kilburn focuses the editorial lens on sleep with a session entitled: Designing the guestroom to evoke a better night’s sleep, which was sponsored by Silentnight Group.
In order to explore this area of the hotel experience, he welcomed Darija Aziz, the in-house designer for Zedwell Hotels, to discuss one particular project that centres its entire model around sleep performance; Zedwell Piccadilly.
Zedwell has been designed with sleep at its core but also to promote health and wellbeing in every form,” Aziz explained. “Rooms were designed to eliminate clutter and remove anxiety, hence no TV or complicated controls. Interestingly, all the guestrooms have no windows in order to eliminate central London noise and bright lights.”
Adding context to the conversation, and bringing technology back into the discussion, Kilburn welcomes sound architect Tom Middleton into the seminar who explained that technology generically exposes the wrong frequency, and the fact that influences such a circadian rhythm needs to be more considered when designing the guestroom to evoke sleep performance.
Seminar 4: wellness
To aptly conclude the series of seminars, Kilburn hosted the session entitled: The future of wellness post-pandemic, and shared the screen with Beverley Bayes (Director of Sparcstudio), Michael Lahm (Vice President and COO of TLEE Spa and Ivaylo Lefterov (Hotel Development Director at Miris), which is the developer behind Svart, the world’s first ‘energy positive’ hotel.
As well as looking at hygiene, the panel discussed the demand for biophilic design, Covid-19 friendly materials such as copper and pushing the limits of wellness. In addition, injecting personalisation (and bespoke elements) in design and service.
Short-term, the pandemic has put a question mark on F&B in spa areas, but the general thoughts of the day were that healthy cuisine was a link that connects wellness and wellbeing.
When asked what each of the panelists look for in a spa experience, the general consensus was a meaningful treatment and seamless execution and experiences within the spa that balance indoor and outdoor spaces.
The seminar included an insightful PRODUCT WATCH pitch from hansgrohe.
Following the success of the inaugural virtual conference, Hotel Designs LIVE is back for a second edition, which will take place on October 13. The themes selected for the next event will include the evolution of discreet technology in hotel design, sustainability in design and architecture, reassuring the hotel consumer post-pandemic and adding personality in public areas.
Tickets for Hotel Designs LIVE will be available shortly. To discuss sponsorship opportunities for any of the sessions above, please contact Katy Phillips or call +44 (0) 1992 374050.