On February 23, 2021, Hotel Designs‘ editor Hamish Kilburn returned to host the third instalment of Hotel Designs LIVE, which launched last year with the aim to keep the industry connected and the conversation flowing during and after the Covid-19 crisis.
The one-day conference welcomed world-renowned interior designers, architects and hoteliers to discuss the future of our industry in four engaging panel discussions, which were:
- Floor 20, room 31, checking in 10 years from now
- Sustainability, beneath the surface
- Safe & sound hospitality & hotel design
- A new era of wellness
The production of Hotel Designs LIVE took place while adhering to the current lockdown regulations and kickstarted with an editor’s welcome from Kilburn who explained the need for the virtual event. “The industry’s new swear word, Covid-19, has temporarily brought hospitality and tourism to its knees, but in these challenging times we have seen the real power of designers, architects, hoteliers, developers and suppliers all working together to invent and implement meaningful solutions,” he said. “Hotel Designs LIVE was born in those confusing times, and our aim is simple: to create conversations unlike any other and keep the industry connected.”
The first session of the day, which was sponsored by Hamilton Litestat, was designed to look ahead towards what hospitality and hotel design will look and feel like one decade on from today, and was curated to confront recent cultural shifts that have smudged the sketches, so to speak, as to what the hotel of the future will look like.
On the panel:
- Albin Berglund, Founder, Bergman Interiors (Interior of the Year, crowned at The Brit List Awards 2020)
- Rob Steul, Creative Director, The Londoner (Edwardian Hotels)
- Martin Goddard, Co-Founder, Goddard Littlefair
- Chris Lee, Director of Design, Architecture, and construction at Wyndham Hotels and Resorts (EMEA)
The conversation began with Kilburn asking the panel how accurate previous predictions were regarding the ‘hotel room of the future’. It was concluded that the word ‘experience’, in all sectors of hotel design, was used 10 years ago in order to meet the then new demand among modern travellers who were expecting a deeper and more purposefully driven hospitality journey. Related to this, a new era of luxury lifestyle brands started to emerge to blur the lines in luxury travel, which, following the most testing year the hospitality arena has experienced in modern times, takes us to where we are now.
When the conversation turned to technology, interior designer Martin Goddard led the discussion to argue that moving forward, he expects modern travellers will be burnt out by technology and hotel design in many areas will encourage human connection once more as well as injecting meaningful sense of location, which was evident in Hotel Designs’ recent hotel review of The Mayfair Townhouse, which Goddard Littlefair recently completed steering clear to reference obvious clichés in the design. “One of the best pieces of feedback I’ve received from that hotel is that it always felt like a cosy winter’s day,” Goddard said.
Interior designer Albin Burglund was able to offer a unique perspective when it came to predicting the future of hotel design from both a luxury design as well as a wellness perspective. “I agree with Martin that the industry will be cautious to inject technology,” he explained, “and this will largely follow consumers putting more of a focus on their own personal wellness and wellbeing.”
Chris Lee injected qualitative research into the discussion following a campaign he and his team completed last year for Sleep & Eat, which involved collaboration with Chalk Architecture, Hotel Hussy and students from the University of West London, presenting an interactive render for a ‘2035 guestroom of the future’ based on the groups prestigious upscale Wyndham brand. As well as the project “capturing the imagination” of the modern traveller, the guestroom design and layout challenged conventional hotel rooms – and despite the focus being largely on the ‘Gen-Z traveller’, the product was actually carefully designed for all generations as it allowed guests to select their own scene settings to reflect their mood or preferred environment. Following research into understanding the DNA of the hotel guestroom experience, technology had to be seamlessly blended in to the design scheme.
The discussion soon veered towards Covid-19 and specifically the pandemic’s impact on future design and hospitality. Rob Steul, with more than 20 years’ experience in architecture and design, used the upcoming luxury hotel in Leicester Square, The Londoner, as a prime example of how the industry’s already high standards put hospitality design in good stead for when hospitality and travel returns in the post-pandemic world. “Long before Covid-19, we had already considered elements such as air flow,” he explained. Burglund agreed while also questioning the short-term purposes of event spaces and questioned how these could be utilised and used during what has no-doubt been a testing time for hospitality worldwide.
The full recordings of the other three sessions (‘Sustainability, beneath the surface’; ‘Safe & sound hotel design’ and ‘A new era of wellness’) will be available on-demand shortly.
SAVE THE DATE: Hotel Designs LIVE will return for a fourth edition on May 11, 2021. Session titles and speakers will be announced shortly. Once these have been announced, tickets for Hotel Designs LIVE will be available. In the meantime, if you would like to discuss sponsorship opportunities, focused Product Watch pitches or the concept of Hotel Designs LIVE, please contact Katy Phillips or call +44 (0) 1992 374050.