Sleep 2013 ended on a high after two full days packed with ideas and inspiration. Over 3,600* international industry professionals attended, a 12% increase over last year and a record for Europe’s favourite and longest running hotel architecture, design and development event.The many new features and formats introduced at Sleep this year generated a palpable buzz of excitement amongst the international design community leading up to and during the show. Visitors were drawn to the event for its forward-thinking conference programme featuring the brightest luminaries in the business and cutting-edge exhibition showcasing the latest innovations in hotel design. Says regular attendee Stefanie Bergot of Artbridge: “The attendance is great; it’s high level and high quality. I come every year and I look forward to it in general.”
A big change for Sleep in 2013 was to make the conference an inclusive event accessible to all pre-registered visitors, thereby opening up the discussions to a wider, international audience keen to hear the views of industry icons such as Ian Schrager and Ken Shuttleworth. “Having attended Sleep several times before, I was really struck by the step change in the event this year. It seemed more of an international gathering place than ever before and there was a great buzz both in the conference hall and on the exhibition floors,” commented Inge Moore of The Gallery HBA London, who participated in the ‘Destination Luxury’ panel discussion. Most sessions were fully subscribed and topics ranged from fact-driven analysis of the business to the more esoteric ‘imagine…’ discussions. Audiences were given an opportunity to engage in the discussions during Q+A’s at the end of each session and the conference was rounded off by ‘Question Time!’ – a chance for the audience to quiz a panel of industry experts.
Alongside the conference, this year’s exhibition featured more than 130 manufacturers and suppliers showcasing the finest products in hotel design, a third of who were new to Sleep. Says Jean-François Espinasse of Interface, who exhibited for the first time this year: “We were really impressed with the calibre of people who attended this year’s Sleep event. It was a great platform for us to launch our new hospitality brand as we were able to meet many industry influencers. We certainly hope to exhibit at Sleep in the future.” The niche focus of the event means that exhibitors are carefully selected, and visitors were highly appreciative of the unique edge that this gives. “It’s a small exhibition but it’s very focused; the people here are very relevant to the industry. I’m enjoying being able to go around and network with the various people I already know and identify new products,” said Mivan’s Stephen Mills.
Sleep headline sponsor GROHE had a significant presence across the entire event, hosting the VIP lounge as well as launching its latest design-led bathroom technology. “Sleep 2013 was a hugely successful show for us – from securing excellent new pipeline projects to having a constantly buzzing VIP lounge – the show felt full of energy and excitement. GROHE continues to be headline sponsor at Sleep as we appreciate the huge potential that comes from the hotel industry – this is a very important segment to us and we feel it leads the way in trends and bathroom style,” said Maha El Kharbotly-Opas of GROHE UK.
Amongst the companies that regularly return to Sleep to make contacts and do business with the designers, specifiers, operators and hotel owners who attend from across the globe were Agua Fabrics. “Sleep has always been the “must exhibit” show for Agua and, to judge from the initial results of this year’s exhibition, it will continue to be so. It provides a superb platform to launch new collections to existing and potential customers as well as the opportunity to network with fellow exhibitors. Looking at the number of new contacts made and the sample requests for our Vistas & Ocular collections, we feel Sleep has exceeded our expectations this year,” says Robert Walton of Agua Fabrics.
A highlight of the exhibition was the Newcomers Gallery located on the ground floor, which introduced a select group of innovative product designers who were new to the hospitality market. Peter Wall of Assemblyroom felt it was a very worthwhile experience. “We’re delighted to say that Sleep introduced us to a new audience and opened a window into the world of hospitality design. So far the feedback has been very positive.”
The Sleep Concept Hotel room sets were a triumph of creativity and practicality with the contenders having just 24 hours to realise their concepts before revealing them to the judges. Jelle van den Berg of winning team Cullinan Interior/Infinite Architects says: “Participating in and winning the [Sleep Concept Hotel] competition gave us a good platform to expand our network and showcase our products and company philosophy. It also made us realise the importance of this event as we were meeting visitors from all over the globe and becoming acquainted with a large number of high profile decision makers in the industry.” The winning room set featured inspiration from Ken Adams’ set design for Stanley Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove, including surprise elements such as interstellar fractal-inspired artwork, in response to a brief that captured the widespread interest in, and nostalgia for, the 1960s.
Each of the Sleep Concept Hotel designers – Cullinan Interior/Infinite Architects, Hickson Design Partnership, Kelly Hoppen Interiors, Purpose Design and Squared Interiors – presented their concepts to judges Andrew Baker of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Catherine Ince, Barbican Art Gallery curator, and Conrad Smith of ReardonSmith Architects. The room sets were extremely popular with visitors. Erik Nissen Johansen of Stylt voiced the views of many who enjoyed exploring the pop-up creations: “I really enjoyed the Sleep Concept Hotel – it was very interesting to see the different interpretations of the same theme.”
The Sleep Concept Hotel Bar, the destination within a destination, was the place to catch up, mix and mingle with contacts old and new. Nous Design had taken on the creative challenge this year, and with Laufen and contractors Willmott Dixon, conceived the bar as a serene oasis in the mêlée of the show. The bar itself was a dramatic sculptural form crafted from re-purposed shower trays manufactured by Laufen and will go on to tour several major European design shows next year.
Kali Nicholson, Brand Director commented: “We are delighted with the increased visitor numbers from the UK and across the globe. It was the best looking Sleep ever, thanks to the handpicked exhibitor line-up and the tremendous effort from the exhibitors and Sleep Hotel teams who created beautiful stands and inspiring installations. Hosting this exciting and creative niche industry was an amazing experience”.
Sleep returns in 2014 with dates announced for Wednesday 26th and Thursday 27th November at the Islington Business Design Centre in London. Winners of The European Hotel Design Awards, which are run in conjunction with Sleep, will be announced in a glittering ceremony on the evening of Tuesday 25th November at the Park Plaza Westminster, London.
*Figure subject to data clean.