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Hospitality

Part 48: Creating meaningful signage & surfaces

730 565 Hamish Kilburn

GTHD

A GUIDE TO HOTEL DESIGN PT 48:
CREATING MEANINGFUL SIGNAGE & SURFACES

Signbox explores how designers and hoteliers can cc cover all bases when it comes to signage and surfaces in order to help create the perfect guest experience…

It may start with the ease of reservation, the first impression or the receptionists’ welcome, but there’s no doubt what happens next is critical when it comes to creating a hotel guest experience that’s memorable for all the right reasons.

First and foremost, interaction is everything – not just the meet and greet and relationship with the concierge, but the way guests connect with and relate to their surroundings. It has to go deeper than décor – it has to be functional, informative, exciting, versatile and carry a consistent corporate identity.

Signbox has all these bases covered with an incredible range of digitally printed hotel wallcovering solutions and environmental graphics solutions that embrace a wide range of materials, from glass and metallics to printed vinyl and tick all the boxes when it comes to giving the guest the experience they’ll be writing home about.

Exciting digitally printed wallpaper

This is where digital hotel wallcoverings really get exciting! Digitally printed wallcoverings are an innovative display solution that combine eye-catching scenes with inspired mood setting and practical hotel signage and messaging. Regardless of the size of the space or its function, Signbox digitally printed wallpapers offer a uniquely ingenious twist for traditional hotel interiors.

Signbox’s digitally printed wallpaper and wallcoverings incorporate photographs, logos, typography, symbols, corporate imagery and logos to create fresh and exciting hotel areas that make every space work harder for its guests and breathe new life into areas that might otherwise have been underutilised or tired.

The applications for digitally printed wallpaper are as endless as the designs themselves. Within corporate guest areas, bold, dynamic digitally printed, large format supergraphics serve to motivate and inspire performance while, back in the heart of the hotel, they create powerful aesthetic backdrops that can be as easy on the eye as they are conceptually groundbreaking, depending on the purpose of the space.

Each digitally printed wallcovering is digitally inkjet printed at Signbox’s vast Egham manufacturing base onto Digimura 2.1 material, which is fire rated to EN13501 and is EN15102 wallcovering compliant. All conform to Signbox’s award-winning benchmarked standards of quality and best practice and all offer remarkable customised wallcovering options.

Go interactive with digital signage surfaces

Hotel guests who feel able and compelled to interact with their environments are likely to score their experience more highly if they can access personalised hotel messaging intuitively.

Signbox has a range of digital signage solutions for hotel environments that make light work of displaying announcements, wayfinding messages, alerts and live data and media streams to keep everyone informed and interacting. Corporate hotel guests will love this real-time multimedia content platform of choice with its seamless presentation and communications tools that work effortlessly across business centres, meeting rooms, conference areas and lounges.

Other guests will enjoy interacting with touch screen display technologies that help speed up the check in process, find their way around the hotel, select dining menus, discover events and on-site facilities as well as serving as invaluable emergency alert systems.

Signbox’s digital signage surfaces include its stunning Displayhub display solution that incorporates interactive HD LED touchscreen displays within a full-length glass fascia with NFC (near field communication) options. At the other end of the interactive digital signage scale you’ll find vast video walls with tiled LCD panels, LED tiles or laser rear projection cube systems. These offer unrivalled bespoke digital display options that not only transform the hotel interior space, but demand attention for guests keen to stay in touch with customised content and information, hotel branded advertisements and broadcast media.

Wallcoverings with a touch of glass 

For areas that demand privacy, safety or security screening or a more customised, bespoke branded wallcovering solution, glass manifestation answers the call. With the capability to transform the look and feel of a hotel area, from receptions and lobbies to corporate hotel spaces, Signbox’s 3M glass manifestation films can be customised to suit a hotel brand identity scheme at a fraction of the cost of tradition bespoke digital printed glazing film and wallcovering methods.

Flexible hotel display wallcoverings  

When it comes to hotel promotions, corporate events or simply when the message or theme needs to change to keep the look fresh, it’s time to think outside the box. Signbox’s Teslaflex system is an ingenious printed ferrous film with a high-grade magnetic base and self-adhesive backing to display photographic-quality graphics. This superb hotel display wallcovering solution is ultra-lightweight and quick and easy to apply and is perfect for short-term guest messages or hotel campaigns.

a colourful abstract art wallcovering

Image caption: Digitally printed wallcovering combination | Image credit: Signbox

Other display wallcoverings include digital canvas art – digital canvas prints that can be inkjet printed to cover any space or environment with a bespoke wallcovering approach for spaces that take account of hotel branding and the physical and practical form of each area. Then there’s Signbox’s engineered Kube framing display solution. It’s a lightweight frame and tension fabric system that can be printed in sizes from 25cm2 to 3m x 10m supersize and is designed to add an ultra-cool touch to a hotel interior.

Never underestimate the power of environmental graphics

This is just a collection of Signbox’s wider bespoke wallcovering solutions that fall under the signage category of ‘environmental graphics’. Indeed, so vital is this concept that EG, the name behind Signbox’s renowned digital print division, is today the most popular choice when hotel and hospitality, corporate workplace and retail sector signage strategy.

You can explore the entire EG collection of groundbreaking digitally printed wallcoverings, digital wallpaper graphics, supergraphics and bespoke digitally printed wallcovering solutions by viewing the EG brochure.

Why all the signs should point to a perfect guest experience

It’s easy to see how next generation digitally printed wallcoverings, digitally printed supergraphics, customised digital wallcoverings and bespoke wallcovering solutions can quite literally transform the hotel space. But more than that is the power of a custom digital wallcovering – whether digitally printed wallpaper or bespoke display wallcovering, digitally printed supergraphic or large format video wall – to transform the hotel guest experience into a personal, interactive and enriching journey that inspires repeat bookings and loyalty to the hotel brand.

Signbox is one of our recommended suppliers. To keep up to date with their news, click here. And, if you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, please email  Katy Phillips by clicking here.

Main image caption: Large format digitally printed display for reception space | Image credit: Signbox

Part 47: The quest for originality in art consultancy

730 565 Hamish Kilburn

GTHD

A GUIDE TO HOTEL DESIGN PT 47:
THE QUEST FOR ORIGINALITY IN ART CONSULTANCY

As an international art consultancy, Artelier specialises in curating art for luxury hospitality, residential, yacht and aviation projects. At a time when there is an inexhaustible supply of art online, Artelier explain why organic and thorough research is essential for offering originality in a hotel art collection.

Drawing on their experience in sourcing contemporary art by leading global artists, Artelier’s art consultants reveal what it takes to avoid the pitfalls of the typical luxury aesthetic found online.

Rarely has there been a time when art has been accessible to so many. Whilst at one time art would mainly have been encountered at galleries or fairs, there are now endless online resources that make art readily available for a wide audience within moments. Online search engines and social media have also given emerging artists platforms for sharing their own work, providing them with the opportunity to gain international attention regardless of where they are based. While the democratisation of access to art is a welcome development, it has also brought an influx of lower-quality art online, making it ever more important to be able to discern which artworks are worth the investment.

Image credit: Artelier

Turning solely to online resources when curating art collections for hotels has many potential pitfalls. The online art market has become inundated with artists who are relatively less credible in professional circles; rather than being early-career artists who are growing their recognition, these more amateur artists often lack the experience or training to create truly original work.

While the notion of ‘originality’ is naturally slippery with regards to art – and indeed, most professional artists acknowledge that they find inspiration by building on existing ideas – here the line is much more distinct. Many amateur artists working at this calibre seem to replicate others’ ideas or follow art ‘trends’, yet they create works that are altogether poorer examples, as they lack the finesse of professional artists. This leads to an overcrowded market of exceedingly similar artworks, that do not offer exciting and challenging ideas. Search engine websites therefore often present an ever more diluted mix of the same imagery, reworked to varying degrees of success.

The pitfalls of art sales websites

Without a professional eye, sourcing art from art sales websites such as Artfinder or Saatchi Art may lead designers to overspend on uninspiring art. It is not clear how artists have been vetted on such websites, and which artworks are put up for sale is likewise not thoroughly regulated. The question arises as to whether these websites are truly capable of offering a refined selection of artworks, which have been edited for quality. Instead, art sales websites are geared towards offering as much quantity as possible to the consumer, regardless of artistic merit.

In cases like these, too much choice may well be an issue. While the breadth and diversity of artworks online reflects the spectrum of work being produced today, if truly special artworks are few and far between, unearthing them can be an arduous process. To put this into perspective, only 3-5% of the artists found on art sales websites would stand up to Artelier’s scrutiny when they research new artists to add to their database – and for this reason, Artelier largely use other research methods for discovering new artists to connect with.

Although there are many reputable artists who present interesting and skilful works online, there are nonetheless plenty of examples of artworks that are less expertly executed. Even if the pieces look generally passable on screens, in person they can lack depth and craftsmanship. It is difficult to determine the quality of the execution online without the practice that an art specialist has at examining works. Unfortunately, this can lead to severe disappoint for the buyer once they receive what is clearly the correct work, but in much poorer quality than they were expecting. As a result, rather than making use of art’s potential to bring together a design scheme and add a layer of sophistication, generic artworks can undermine the quality of the design.

Another concerning aspect is that the price of artworks on art sales websites are often self-evaluated, and so determined by artists themselves; this often leads to ludicrously overpriced pieces flooding the websites. This can be shockingly observed when choosing to filter the search engines from high-to-low price, where too often many of the most expensive artworks are generic in style and by undistinguished artists. These prices are outside of the usual art market forces – in more traditional sales contexts, artworks would be evaluated by way of complex factors, such as their provenance, the artist’s background, and the artistic merit of the piece. The practice of being able to set prices at many thousands of pounds for a work by an unknown artist may leave these websites susceptible to opportunists. Some people may take advantage, seeking to sell a piece to an unsuspecting consumer who believes the price tag would reflect the skill and reputation of the artist. Without the market knowledge and trained eye of art specialists, it is easy to be led to believe an artwork is worth its price.

Pinterest and the dilution of original ideas

The explosion of available visual media through platforms like Pinterest and Instagram has made creative ideas disperse rapidly. Yet, the over-reliance of many art consultants on these platforms for inspiration has also led to a staleness of aesthetic, and a tendency to stick to art ‘trends’. Artists themselves often look to online media to develop their ideas, causing many to simply create versions of generic styles, and for the presence of true originality to become ever more diluted.

Image credit: Artelier

These search engines are often the primary resources for less experienced consultants, who may lack the capability of finding artists from more organic sources – such as being rooted in arts communities and growing networks over time – and the experience to spot potential at new shows and fairs. The overall effect of this approach is a trapped repertoire of art being sourced for luxury commercial design. As a result, the general predictability in the art does not fit with the intentions of cutting-edge interior designers, who are seeking to break new ground.

It goes without saying that art which is characteristically similar to its counterparts will fall not even close to the aesthetic criteria of a sophisticated and discerning hotel guest. Curating art for hotels therefore demands responding to the client’s brief in a surprising way, which requires thorough, in-depth research that is amassed over time.

Interpreting a theme in a visually interesting way takes a breadth of knowledge and creative thinking, in order to form subtle connections that go beyond design trends. While Pinterest presents many excellent examples of both under-the-radar talent and established artists, it cannot be the principal research method, as it simply takes more to fulfil the expectations of a luxury client.

Organically evolving a quality database

Discovering artists from the ground up gathers a more diverse range of artworks, and represents the true spectrum of ideas and innovative uses of materials in global contemporary art. Artelier’s research methods are guided by this attitude, and so they seek to become embedded in international artist communities and establish direct connections with artists and galleries. As well as undergoing in-depth research, they are regularly approached by artists themselves, and similarly galleries reach out if they feel an artist they represent especially suits Artelier.

These connections have been established through 20 years’ worth of experience in the industry, allowing Artelier continue to grow a strong repertoire of associated artists. Artelier’s database currently includes 10,000 artists who have been individually researched by Artelier’s team, maintaining the highest of standards through an acute instinct for quality and a wealth of art market expertise.

Image credit: Artelier

Through this organic research method, Artelier prioritise artists who demonstrate an ingenuity of thought, and are true masters of their mediums. Rather than being driven by popular trends, an art specialist’s trained eye is capable of recognising genuine talent. This allows Artelier to be ahead of the curve in terms of proposing stimulating and impressive artworks, rather than being limited to following the online trend of the moment.

When clients approach Artelier with a particular brief or theme in mind, they therefore respond to the hotel client’s concepts with artworks that are truly original, even if the client’s concept is itself inspired by a trend. By offering high-quality artists who are capable of creating artworks that are tailored to the hotel’s context, Artelier ensures the longevity of the stylistic choices and make artworks a worthwhile investment. Such artworks are not typically encountered on online art search engines, and for this reason Artelier chooses not to rely on them as a major resource for research.

A complex thematic approach

Through experience, Artelier understands that truly innovative ideas need to be developed from internal, rather than external, influences. At the beginning of a project, their approach is therefore to think like an artist – looking for subtleties within artistic themes, and seeking to unearth complex connections. The process of developing a thematic response to a project brief becomes centred around invention, rather than re-creating versions of what already exists. Since Artelier’s approach involves internally generating ideas for newly commissioned artworks, the outcome is something completely fresh – this brings the critical element of the unexpected to hotel design.

When exploring potential themes for a hotel art collection, it is necessary to root the artworks in their context: artworks must speak to the unique culture of the area, reflect the ethos of the hotel brand, and create an air of luxury which exceeds the expectations of high-end travellers. These key considerations speak to the core of many hotel project briefs. In a recently completed luxury hotel development in Bahrain, for example, Artelier was asked to curate a portfolio of art that related to local history, and referenced the sense of a meeting point between cultures and communities.

After extensive research into the exceptional aspects of Bahrain’s history and geography, Artelier identified a narrative between several interrelated themes. These centred around concepts of navigation, archaeology of the area, local ancient crafts, and the natural wonders of the nearby sea. Together, these themes formed a coherent basis for the proposed art collection; Artelier could then begin to refer to their database, and contemplate how the themes can be reflected in specific artworks.

Image credit: Artelier

‘Ready-made’ art vs. nurturing creativity

The appeal of shopping for and finding an artwork that is readily available, much like a product, has led to the popularity of sourcing ‘ready-made’ artworks for hotel design projects. The trap of sourcing artworks in this way, however, is that these pieces will always be limited to what has already been done – once these works are out there, regardless of how novel the idea may have been originally, they will be copied and popularised.

For the initial stages of a project, there are advantages in looking at ready-made artworks – often designers benefit from a visual hook they can use to assemble a mood board, and the wealth of imagery online is a perfect, quick tool for this. While the artworks at this stage would be interesting enough, inevitably there will be a sense of the familiar about them. Without an insight into the art market, it is difficult to spot an artist who is doing something truly innovative and leading trends.

For Artelier, the process behind sourcing artworks is inherently creative, as they continuously build upon initial concepts, and foster creative thought through collaboration with artists. Once artists have been selected for a project, Artelier closely works with them to develop existing concepts; the artists’ creative input and intimate knowledge of their materials expand initial ideas into something that has not been done before. This collaborative process encourages the risk-taking and experimental attitude that feeds creative work. As newly commissioned artworks are created specifically for a given hotel project, Artelier are able to develop something utterly unique, in its truest sense: tailor-made, freshly created, and one-of-a-kind.

For these new art commissions, Artelier often collaborates with emerging artists who they discover through a variety of sources. Artelier specialises in talent-spotting artists who have the potential to work on high-profile commissions, but need the support of someone who has experience with delivering art to luxury clients in a variety of contexts. In this way, genuine, professional artists have their work nurtured, and their creativity given space to grow – Artelier understand the difference that a substantial commission can make to a deserving, but relatively under-the-radar, artist. If this talent is utilised, however, this gives the best opportunity for boundary-pushing ideas.

The longevity of innovative art

Every innovative idea will, inevitably, make it to online art search-engines and social media platforms; industry professionals will begin to take note, and use these novel concepts for their inspiration. However, by continuing to approach artistic research with a commitment to talent-spotting and fostering the growth of new ideas, Artelier maintains a pioneering vision that enables them to always stay ahead of the curve.

Artelier is one of the brands that has taken advantage of our Industry Support Package. To keep up to date with supplier news, click here. And, if you are interested in also benefitting from this  three-month editorial package, please email Katy Phillips by clicking here.

Main image credit: Artelier

Part 46: How to meaningfully use CGI when planning new spaces

730 565 Hamish Kilburn

GTHD

A GUIDE TO HOTEL DESIGN PT 46:
HOW TO MEANINGFULLY USE CGI WHEN PLANNING NEW SPACES

The multi-faceted realm of CGI can be an invaluable resource to any person or company when planning an interior space. Technical drawings of the space can seamlessly be imported into 3D design software. From here the process of CGI starts and can take three main routes.

Route one

The technical CAD drawings are transformed into accurate 3D representations of the interior space(s). Many simple 3D software packages allow users with a moderate degree of computer software expertise to create a representative view of the interior space.

Style and photo realism are not key features or abilities of this type of software. However, a revealing view of the space can be created, with bespoke fit-out features and furniture included.

Route one CGI visuals are perfect for the initial stages of planning. The accuracy of the visualised spaces allows for technicalities to be worked out and the space to be ‘filled’ accurately.

Whilst they lack any resemblance of realism, these can suffice for some interior space design requirements. As the skills required to generate this style of CGI are minimal, so are the associated costs.

Route two

Route two CGI visuals take things up to a more realistic level. The accurate 3D spaces of Route 1 are built up to generate visualisations that are not only more aesthetically pleasing, but they also allow for the interior design ideas to be communicated better.

Classed as ‘in-house’ CGI, these visualisations offer good levels of accuracy and visual style without a huge price tag. Cost savings are possible as the visualisation team creating the images are focused on providing a clear vision of the interior space as an overall view. With less time invested into adding photorealism through specialist scene lighting, high polygon models and high-quality texture maps.

The reduced quality allows the CG images to be edited much easier, allowing for revisions to be made and alterative versions of the interior space to be shown.

This form of CG image is excellent for planning, as good levels of accuracy and clearer visual communication of the design ideas, allow for planners and clients to understand the space better.

Overall, Route two CGI visuals offer great bang for your buck, but with limitations.

Route three

The full photorealistic CGI phase. Used to truly communicate an interior design and guarantee planners/clients are engaged and approving of the interior space design idea.

The costs associated with the Route 3 CG imagery is higher and, in some cases, can be deemed expensive. However, these are visualisations that blur the lines between reality and virtual space. The CGI can not only be used as part of the planning phase, it’s accuracy and photo realism allows it to be used for marketing purposes as it accurately depicts the final interior design as it would appear once constructed/fitted-out. Therefore, the additional costs associated with these high-quality photorealistic CGI visualisations are offset and in most cases the return on investment is greater than what is offered via the use of Route one or Route two CGI.

Meaningfully utilising CGI

Which route to take with your CGI requirements is dependent on several factors:

Size of project – smaller projects may offer less intricacy and aesthetic appeal, therefore investing significantly in CGI is not likely to provide good ROI. Larger projects offer more potential for creativity, ensure that potential is fulfilled with several Route 3 CGI visuals.

Budget – Should budget be a key factor, route 2 CG images would suit best, these offer a balance between visual appeal and accuracy.

Competition – For interior design and fit-out firms who are bidding for popular tenders, the Route 3 CGI offering is best. The increased quality and visual attraction that is offered is likely to elevate the design ideas above other offerings.

Deadline – Route 2 CGI services can be produced within just a few days, allowing for tight deadlines to be met without missing out on the ability to offer up attractive visuals for client review.

Ultimately choosing the correct CGI studio will be one of the strongest factors for creating visualisations that are meaningful and successful when planning a space. The right studio will guide you based on the above criteria, utilising custom workflow and design practices to accommodate your requests and produce what has been requested. Therefore, it is vital that communication between client and CGI studio is clear, concise and covers all of the criteria mentioned above. With all of this knowledge a quality CGI studio will provide the correct results.

North Made Studio is one of the brands that has taken advantage of our Industry Support Package. To keep up to date with supplier news, click here. And, if you are interested in also benefitting from this three-month editorial package, please email Katy Phillips by clicking here.

Main image credit: North Made Studio

Part 45: The role bespoke lighting plays in modern hotels

727 524 Hamish Kilburn

GTHD

A GUIDE TO HOTEL DESIGN PT45:
THE ROLE BESPOKE LIGHTING PLAYS IN MODERN HOTELS

The almost all pervasive use of a standardised approach to the construction of medium height and tall buildings does not help with differentiation; a key attribute for any hotel as first impressions are vital. The skilful application of façade lighting can help a great deal, as the LED lighting specialists at Illumination Physics explain…

The use of glass and aluminium in unitised or non-unitised curtain wall construction is pervasive in most modern facades for reasons of cost, performance, and speed of construction: The advantages are irrefutable. However, the facades all look inevitably similar.

Older or more classical hotel designs that do not use all glass facades and use stone and other non-reflective surfaces present an entirely different challenge.

The properties of a double glazed glass panel is determined by factors such as wind load and these dictate the width of the vision glass. There is a magic number of approximately 1500mm between the vertical metal mullions and varies only a little around the world. Any wider; the glass has to be thicker and stronger (and more expensive). Any narrower and the windows seem claustrophobic and the amount of metalwork increases (and is more expensive).

The vertical distance between floors (slab to slab), is also driven by a magic number. High ceilings may be spacious but they cost more because less floors can be built in a certain rise. As a consequence the height of a floor, and hence the height of a curtain wall panel will be somewhere between 3.5 and 3.8 metres. Part of the panel will been to be a window and part will need to be opaque to hide the edge of the slab (the spandrel panel).

Architects and façade consultants strive to achieve any elaboration that is possible with all types of glass and metal structures, but to casual observers, there is a strong resemblance between edifices of many types because the texture is the same.

Hotels, perhaps more than any other genre of building, need to exude a personality and should differentiate themselves from each other and other similar modern structures in the vicinity. The curtain wall system can make it difficult to discern a building as a hotel or an office sometimes.

The one great tool available to distinguish a building and lend it personality, and make a statement, is integrated façade lighting. The curtain wall business has been highly developed over decades but the addition of integrated façade lighting is still immature and hence there are great opportunities for innovation.

To illustrate this potential, the following examples demonstrate projects in which façade lighting has helped to develop and articulate the personality of four very different hotels. All of the projects are constructed with modern façade technology and each of them have developed their character through lighting.

The DoubleTree Hilton in Zagreb, Croatia

Wooden fins on a modern glass building is novel, but provided a striking visual element in daylight, adding interest to the facade. At night the effect was lost, unlit the fins became just shadows. The night time interest was restored by integrating a small custom LED light fixture into the base of each fin. The same width as the fin, the light fixture goes unnoticed by day. After dusk however, it provides an eye catching display that uses subtle warm white and cool white light in a dynamic display, without resorting to coloured light. This was suitable artistic restraint that suited this location.

Image caption: The integrated façade lighting clearly distinguishes the Double Tree Hilton from the similarly proportioned rectangular commercial buildings the surround it. Custom design and manufacture by illumination Physics.

The building is now clearly not an office tower. The lighting display is playful but sophisticated. An ideal message for the positioning of this hotel.

Technically simple, cost effective and totally reliable. The equipment was installed by the electrical contractor with guidance from illumination Physics.

City of Dreams, Macau – Retail Expansion

The retail expansion of the podium in 2015 produced a new 250m wide curved façade, 20 metres high, constructed of glass and aluminium. City of Dreams contained four hotels at that time and a casino. The expansion was a major development of the Cotai Strip and a statement needed to be made. Lighting would be the key for that message.

Image caption: The new retail façade of City of Dreams now dominates the start of the Cotai Strip in Macau. The use of very warm white light and cool white light are used as a metaphor for gold and silver in a display that is constantly evolving. Design and build by illumination Physics.

The signature use of highly coloured neon and now LED have been all pervasive in Macau since the 60s.  Those hotel personality messages are unmistakeable.

The new podium at City of Dreams should be treated differently. It would need to demand attention, overt; but not in red, green and blue colour mixing. There is already too much of that. The image of the retail expansion also needed to be distinctly up-market and for once, primary colours would not help.

A different approach would be the one to stand out. The 90 tall light boxes would be illuminated by washing the back panel with two offset focuses, one in very warm white (gold) and one in very cool white (silver) as a metaphor. A custom linear light fixture was specially created. The display is animated and demands attention but the dynamic changes are neither fast nor slow, creating an image of class in deference to the high-end retail brands contained within. The building demands attention and yet clearly communicates its personality.

The Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

Designed by Moshe Safdie Architects, the three iconic towers joined at the summits by the Skypark have become the contemporary image of Singapore. These were not the only opportunity to create a personality, or many personalities as it turned out. The hotel towers needed little help.

However, at the base of the towers sit three wide low buildings; The Theater, The Exhibition Hall and the MICE centre. The creative company Laservision had identified that the acres of grey convex Clip-Loc aluminium roofing, whist not an asset in day time, might be exploited at night.

illumination Physics developed a luminaire design that was able to evenly illuminate the compound curved surfaces. The overall display utilised more than 1000 custom light fixtures that were among the first to adopt RGBA (red, green, blue & amber) LEDs rather than the more prevalent RGB or RGBW (red, green, blue & white). The inclusion of amber allowed the creation of a true warm white – a specific requirement of the architect, as well as a palate of colours previously unseen. Dynamic control grants the Sands the ability to adopt many personalities and moods according to the time of day and special events such as Singapore’s National Day when the red and white colours of the flag are used.

The Kempinski Hotel Clubhouse, Yinchuan, China

It gets very cold in this part of the world (the average annual daily temperature is 8.9℃) and hence the sporting, spa and pool facilities must be indoors and yet feel spacious and open. It was logical that Novum structures would provide two organically shaped self-supporting glass and steel geodetic domes. This magnificent engineering would be lost at night unless it was celebrated with lighting, which is what illumination Physics did. Each node in the dome was equipped with a direct view LED pixel, a custom designed luminaire that was integrated into the structure at each node. In addition, linear indirect wash lights were installed, hidden around the perimeter of each dome.

The combination of these two light sources creates two views of the domes. From the inside a sky can be created complete with stars. From the outside the glowing domes arouse curiosity and attract attention in a way that invites people in to places of warmth and relaxation. Ideal for this hotel.

The square peg and round hole issue

illumination Physics was founded on a specific philosophy. illumination Physics would focus on the exact needs of the project above all else. Integrated architectural lighting requires that the design of lighting equipment must be perfectly adapted for fit and function and also maintainability. Custom design played a key role in the success of all of these hotel based projects. Our manufacturing facilities are organised for agility and flexibility so that a particular type of light fixture can be designed, proven and produced as, if not more quickly than an off-the- shelf product. The support for illumination Physics’ products has extended for a decade and the company have debunked the popular myth that custom products are more expensive. Illumination Physics apply the same level of care to projects large and small.

Illumination Physics is one of the brands that has taken advantage of our Industry Support Package. To keep up to date with supplier news, click here. And, if you are interested in also benefitting from this  three-month editorial package, please email Katy Phillips by clicking here.

Main image credit: Marina Bay Sands

Part 44: 6 ways to add nature into interior design

730 565 Hamish Kilburn

GTHD

A GUIDE TO HOTEL DESIGN PT 44:
6 WAYS TO ADD NATURE INTO INTERIOR DESIGN

Getting in touch with nature has moved from the eco-friendly fringes to the mainstream in the hospitality industry. Designer and author Angelina Schmidt shares tips on how designers can seamlessly add natural elements within an interior design scheme… 

The indoor-outdoor trend is about more than adding some greenery into hotel lobbies. It’s rooted in the term “biophilia”, which refers to our desire as humans to connect with nature. “Biophilic design” refers to using these principles in architectural and interior design. Here are some tips on how you can extend these ideas to your room design.

Wood

From floor to ceiling and all the space between, wood is a natural choice when using nature in guestroom design, but should not be limited to the bedroom. Wooden floors in common spaces are durable, easy to clean, and blend well with countless design themes.

Minimalist room with wooden coffee table

Image credit: Pixabay

Make a statement in these areas with a wood ceiling (these are a trending design feature right now). Wooden accent walls add warmth and cosiness that’s hard to duplicate with other materials. Consider smaller touches like wood accent shelves or wood fireplace mantles. Wooden coffee tables, desks, lighting fixtures, and accessories will also bring a touch of nature to any room.

Stone

There are so many ways to incorporate stone into interior design. From flooring to feature walls to decorative accents, stone offers a timeless and natural charm. Surround a fireplace or cover a wall with stone veneer.

Image credit: Pixabay

In rooms with kitchens, perhaps use stacked stone as a backsplash or around a kitchen island. Remodeling the bathrooms? How about a river pebble shower floor or slate tiles for the shower walls? Be sure to properly seal the natural stone in bathrooms and use slip-resistant materials for the floors.

The power of plants

Biophilic design is about more than plants. Greenery can play a role in helping travellers feel connected to nature. Potted plants help green up common spaces and individual rooms. Aloe, jade, and snake plants are good low maintenance choices.

Whit room with white bed and plants

Image credit: Pixabay

For an upscale touch, consider luxe plants such as a bird of paradise or bonsai tree. Add pops of colour with strategically placed floral arrangements. Dried flowers last longer than fresh ones, and they’re the epitome of low maintenance. Faux flowers and greenery have come a long way, and they don’t need any care.

Natural light

The more the better! Natural light feeds our minds, bodies, and souls and can promote a sense of wellbeing. Take advantage of natural light in as many rooms as possible. If you’re redesigning a property or building a new one, incorporate windows to let in the light and maximise the view.

Glass windows in coffee shop

Image credit: Pixabay

Choose lighter colour palettes to reflect light rather than absorb it. Remove heavy window coverings and keep windows clean. Clean windows allow in more light and improve the appearance of your space.

Breathe life into your walls 

Living or green walls are having a moment in interior design. They’re popular in office buildings, shopping centres, and hotel lobbies.

Living wall

Image credit: PxFuel

Living walls need regular care and an adequate watering system. Make sure you’ve planned for this because dead or dying plants are an eyesore.

Accessories, with Nature in Mind

Hang pictures of natural settings or landscapes, or display art made from natural items like stones, wood, or shells. Wallpaper or carpet with nature-inspired patterns is another option. So is bedding or accent pillows with floral or leaf designs.

Modern interior scheme with cow-like rug and stone objects on the wall

Image credit: Pixabay

Your guests’ connection to the outdoors doesn’t have to end at your property’s entrance. Use these biophilic tips to help incorporate nature into your room design. While these ideas won’t replace going outside, they can provide your guests with an environment that helps them feel connected to nature.

Main image credit: Pixabay

Part 42: Using a 360-degree approach in bathroom design

730 565 Hamish Kilburn

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A GUIDE TO HOTEL DESIGN PT 42:
USING A 360-DEGREE APPROACH IN BATHROOM DESIGN

Aiming to reduce the number of out-of-service rooms when a bathroom product malfunctions, bathroom specifier Utopia Projects explains why their 360-degree approach is vital when designing bathrooms and wet rooms for the modern traveller…

Imagine this all-too-common scenario in a hotel: the guest calls down to reception to complain that the shower is not working.

For the individual checked in, a swift upgrade to a junior suite and a few drinks vouchers will suffice. For the hotel, though, which now shelters an unoccupied and therefore unsellable room, it’s a race against time to rectify the problem. If corners were cut during the design of the bathrooms, it will usually be exposed here, and the property will most likely have to contact the manufacturers to order a new part after the maintenance staff has finally identified the broken element, causing unnecessary delays. Sound familiar?

On the other hand, hotel bathrooms that have been designed sensitively will have pre-empted the inevitable of malfunctioning equipment. Needless to say, services that specify quality branded products and that have access to all spare parts help to eliminate long-lead times for new product parts.

A recent UK study, commissioned by Ideal Standard, found that “73 per cent of designers agreed that washrooms are the most difficult rooms to design and plan in commercial projects.” As the rise in wellness and wellbeing points a critical lens on the hotel bathroom, designers are working harder than ever to evolve purposefully designed bathrooms and washrooms, all within the often-tight budgets from the client.

Utopia Projects is a unique service that works with designers after the layout of a bathroom has been established. Helping to create statement bathrooms for the likes of University Arms Cambridge, Oddfellows on the Park and most recently the Stock Exchange Hotel Manchester, the team have a solid relationship with some of the UK’s leading designers.

How the 360-degree approach works

The designer focuses on capturing the theme and overall concept while Utopia Projects suggests an appropriate specification. “Some designers will ask for entry- as well as mid-spec in order to get the difference between both,” explains Richard Goodier, Director at Utopia Projects. “Once we have provided these free of charge, they will then present these specs to the client for approval.”

Having a second pair of eyes in the bathroom from early stages right through until completion allows designers to concentrate on other areas of the design process. “We stock the products and supply to schedules, which we break it down to first fit and second fit,” adds Goodier. “After the job is complete, we have easy access to all the spare parts to all of the products we have specified.” The company goes as far to give the maintenance staff on site access to www.hotelspares.co.uk and an easy to use  booklet that is made up of all the products specified in the hotel, so that if a problem were to surface, they would be able to identify the issue swiftly.

Times are changing

The conventional hotel bathroom as we know it has become a thing of the past. An example of an hotel bathroom breaking design barriers is The South Place Hotel, London which was chosen as the setting of BBC’s award-winning drama series, The Bodyguard. The ultra-contemporary hotel required a specific brief, and was the first new-build hotel to open within London’s city walls. “When designing hotel bathrooms, there is a lot more to consider than just the products,” says Goodier. “The South Place Hotel was an exciting project for us to be involved in, Conran & Partners who were the interior designers had a very clear image of the design brief they were trying to achieve. The products used within this set-up had to be stylish & modern yet with functionality. Always up for a challenge, we were tasked with sourcing a glass bath for the hotel suits which we had handmade in Italy, as well as having bespoke flush plates made with the hotel logo to reflect the level of detail given to this project.

“Utopia Projects prides itself on keeping its clients up to date on regulation changes as well as only working with WRAS-approved products and brands.”

Technology has opened the door for new software to creep in.. Online ‘shops’ are becoming more sophisticated, going as far as allowing designers to use virtual tools to create specifications with just a few clicks. The danger of this, however, is that cutting corners could lead to missed or unsuitable products being specified. Specialists, such as the workforce at Utopia Projects, cast experienced eyes over all specifications and sense-check everything as part of the 360-degree approach.

In addition, the new wave of tech-driven products is being introduced into the market at a rapid pace and more emphasis is being put on sustainability and quality. Utopia Projects prides itself on keeping its clients up to date on regulation changes as well as only working with WRAS-approved products and brands. Taking on the 360-degree approach to bathroom design, bathroom experts at Utopia Projects are determined to help designers meet ambitious hotel briefs with the knowledge, experience and the skill required to meet the growing demands of consumers who arguably see the bath, shower and WC as important as the bed.

Main image credit: The Biltmore Hotel, designed by Goddard Littlefair

Part 41: Designing meaningful co-working spaces

730 565 Hamish Kilburn

GTHD

A GUIDE TO HOTEL DESIGN PT 41:
DESIGNING MEANINGFUL CO-WORKING SPACES

Art and FF&E logistics company Momentous explains why we must react to consumer demands for a flexible hotel public areas. The company’s Mike Brazier has explains what designers should consider when creating flexible working spaces… 

I’ve just finished a consultation regarding a workplace project in central London where we are hoping to support, and now I’m on my way to join a work colleague for a meeting to discuss logistics support with an interior design and hotels projects contact of ours.

The destination is the beautiful five-star St Martins Lane Hotel. It’s centrally based and extremely convenient when you’re buzzing around the city looking for a relaxed space to meet clients.

I arrive following an eventful tube journey (not an uncommon situation in the capital) but the large and open hotel lobby instantly creates a strong sense of calm.

As well as bar, a lobby and a restaurant, there is also a snug (AKA- The Den); a peaceful retreat from the metropolis outside, ideal for checking emails as well as providing a good base for meetings in the city. As I set myself down and open my laptop, I take a look around and notice that I’m not alone. In fact, I realise there are quite a few other business people nestled around the room, all checking their emails, holding meetings and working pretty effectively. My colleague arrives shortly after me and it gives us some time to catch up, it all feels very constructive.

Masculine furniture inside a den-like snug

Image caption: The Den inside St Martin Lane Hotel, London

A fortunate appeal to the agile worker

When our contact arrives, the discussion instantly turns to the unique attributes of ‘bleisure’ hotels and the benefits they offer to agile workers. With hotel groups such as Hoxton Hotels and Citizen M leading a movement to create design-led, practical public areas, could the possibility of exchanging our offices for hotels as co-working locations be a reality?

Image credit: Hoxton Hotels

Of course, what we are talking about is nothing new. Business men and women have been holding meetings in coffee shops and hotels since commerce began. And co-working has been shaping the workplace market for years with companies such as WeWork, its many contemporaries and HubbleHQ creating flexible and funky workspace options for the next generation of businesses. Yet, hotel co-working offers something deeper.

In fact, when you look at hotels as another new option for co-working spaces, it starts to make a lot of sense. Many of them have the basic demands that consumers require. They are often located exactly where you need them to be with amazing travel links. They have Wi-Fi, power sockets, chairs, tables, informal meeting areas, boardroom-style rooms, refreshments and they are not dull spaces.

It is hardly any surprise to see that many of the large hotel chains such as AccorHotels X WOJO, Marriott International and their Sheraton brand are redesigning their lobbies are following quirky hotel brands to create co-working spaces and rethinking the type of services and resources that would convert the casual agile working visitor into adopting them as a patron willing to pay more for their services.

What hotel designs can be implemented do to capitalise on this opportunity for coworking?

Based on the collective experience of interior design, hotels and workplace in the room you can imagine that we had plenty of ideas flashing around. One of the key challenges would be that workplaces can get quite noisy with phone calls and the general level of communication, so hotels would need to work on a way around this.

Data security, networks and call handling, are all factors that need to be taken into consideration. In reality, these are all challenges that a designer and workplace specialist would have no problem overcoming. There are also some ready and off the shelf options that can be easily incorporated. Work pods can solve many of the challenges listed above and we have access to those today. The trick would be, how do hotels get this to flow into their existing core hotel proposition.

For hotels that are restricted with space, usually urban hotels, the hotel lobby has to work harder. For it to be able to transformed into different atmospheres throughout the day, the lobby has to be flexible in its design. Using a neutral coloured surface, with art pieces injecting personality, the lobby will become a blank canvas of ideas. Modular furniture will adapt with your guests’ needs and can allow the space to transform quickly without fuss.

There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution for designing co-working spaces in hotels. One thing is for certain, the hotels that are at the curve of this movement are using innovation, new technology and clever design to to create meaningful functional spaces that are appealing to work and hold meetings in.

Main image credit: St Martins Lane Hotel

Part 40: How to design luxury accommodation in pub hotels

730 565 Hamish Kilburn

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A GUIDE TO HOTEL DESIGN PT 40:
HOW TO DESIGN LUXURY ACCOMMODATION IN PUB HOTELS

Following a rise in smaller and boutique design projects emerging on the hotel design scene, interior designer Sarah Ward offers tips and tricks for designing bespoke luxury accommodation in pubs…

I’m sure I’m not the only one who is glad that pubs have transformed from dark smoky dens into welcoming meeting places for everyone – serving fantastic food, and often with a few luxury rooms to stay in, too.

For weekend mini-breaks, a pub hotel can offer the most characterful place to stay in a rural village. I’m thinking of somewhere where walks finish with a pint or a glass of good wine beside a roaring fire.

The appeal of a pub over a hotel is often friendliness. For single travellers they can be more tempting than a corporate-style hotel, even if it means a little extra travel. The likelihood is that a pub will attract locals as well as travellers, signalling a convivial atmosphere.

My top tips for designing luxury accommodation in pubs aren’t that different from what I’d suggest in a hotel. Sometimes the only distinction between the two is the atmosphere. What every pub needs is an element of cosiness and comfort. The best pub accommodation is warm, comfortable and homely with a dash of luxury: great toiletries, top-quality beds and bedding, some special wool-covered cushions, for example. As Coco Chanel said, ‘Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.’ Pub accommodation should never be soulless and should always offer a hospitable atmosphere.

Here are a few key points for designing luxury accommodation in pub hotels.

Continuity– The style of the whole pub should be harmonious. Pub hotel design never works when it’s obvious that all the attention has gone into creating a cosy eating and drinking area, with the rooms clearly an afterthought with basic furniture, fixtures and linens. Both communal and sleeping areas need to feel part of a whole, with themes carried through. Though overly themed pubs are a no-no – you don’t want a too-often repeated fabric, for example. The design has to be subtle, with a similar colour palette throughout.

Image credit: Interiors by Sarah Ward

Family feel– Many pubs are traditionally family-run businesses. It’s the friendly atmosphere of being in a homely environment that should be brought to the fore when decorating a pub. And that should be created even if it isn’t family-run. For the rooms, this means adding a few individual touches. Pub accommodation shouldn’t all be identical. Interesting materials, cushions, rugs, and lamps come to mind, as well as the odd attractive ornament, or books on a bookshelf. But don’t go for a cluttered look: it’s too Marmite – some love it, many don’t, and it’s hard to get right. That’s where a good interior designer can really add value. We have contacts and connections all over the industry, and can source high-quality interesting bespoke pieces for projects, from artworks to armchairs. We can arrange things in the best way so that there’s still a feeling of space and flow in each area.

Original features– Lovely old pubs often have a wealth of original features, from fireplaces to wonky exposed beams and braces. Don’t cover these up. People want an authentic feel. It’s good to integrate some of the old features, referencing them in your theme. So, an old station pub should have pieces relevant to its original use – a station clock, perhaps, or artwork made from old timetables or posters. Again, a good interior designer will help make sure this works and isn’t kitsch. And for original features that you do want to cover – Victorian plumbing pipes, for example – then an interior design specialist will offer solutions, maybe boxing them in in a way that creates a storage solution.

Bedding– Crisp sheets are a must. And go for comfortable beds that are as large as the room allows. I would recommend a selection of cushions and a choice of soft pillows, and maybe a luxury throw in a contrasting colour to add interest. If the pub doesn’t have a turn-down service as a hotel would, then make sure there’s somewhere for guests to stash bed cushions at night.

Storage– Storage can often be an issue in pub rooms, some of which can be small if you’re working with an old building. If you’re having to create somewhere for guests to place and hang clothes or coats, an interior designer will be able to design something that fits cleverly into a small space. This is better than just offering hooks with hangers.

Materials– Go as luxury and as cosy as your budget affords. I associate British pubs with winter cosiness and rural bliss, and therefore I’d use natural wools and a palette of colours that matches the great outdoors. These are warm earthy tones, against a fairly neutral base. I’d include a comfortable and stylish chair in an attractive material in a pub hotel room. I’d always use heavy curtains and make sure they black out all the light, too.

Sustainability– Make sure you’re offering good quality toiletries in recyclable materials. Also, the better the quality the better the sustainability with things like fabrics. Consumers are concerned about the planet, and you need to show in your offering (food and accommodation) that you are, too. Use local products from small producers if possible. This always adds a welcome touch to a room, and shows the owners have thought about what they’re doing. No-one wants little capsules of milk with their coffee, for example – so offering fresh in a pretty jug (or mini flask) is always better. Likewise, a packet of generic shortbread is boring, but a handmade biscuit is delicious and special. The same goes for a cushion, or a piece of art. According to a 2019 survey by Taxi2Airport, 76% of holidaymakers want hotels to do more to be greener. So, inform your guests about green credentials, whether that’s using eco-friendly cleaning materials or not using single-use plastics.

Bathrooms– Bathrooms don’t necessarily need to be totally luxe in a pub – but make sure the basics are covered: good lighting and mirrors, soft towels with somewhere to hang them, and a heated towel rail if possible. Everyone loves a roll-top bath, and pub-hotels suit them well, often with a Victorian-style feel. Local toiletries, as mentioned in the sustainability section, are always a good addition. Go for large, refillable luxury shampoos, conditioners and soaps. They hit the eco-button and there are lots of great ones available now. Even in a bathroom, bespoke pieces, such as mirrors, soap dishes and glasses to put your toothbrush in can make the difference between dull and stylish.

Noise– Noise can be a problem in pubs. Spend money on good insulation, glazing, and close-fitting doors to aid sound-proofing. If you have wooden floorboards, you need a large thick rug to muffle sound.

Welcome– As we all know, as well as a lovely environment and good food and accommodation, it’s people who make pubs. Make sure all staff are well trained, not just in serving at the bar, but in customer service for overnight guests, too.

Sarah Ward – Interiors by Sarah Ward www.interiorsbysarahward.com

Part 39: Sustainability in hotels – are you doing your part?

1024 683 Hamish Kilburn

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A GUIDE TO HOTEL DESIGN PT 39:
Sustainability in hotels – are you doing your part?

Sustainable tourism is not just a rising travel trend. Sustainability also quickly becoming a priority – if not a moral imperative – for hospitality leaders and hotel businesses around the world. Hotel Bookings resource STAAH explains…

Guide to Hotel Design
Image credit Inhabit Hotels

Over the past several decades, hoteliers have turned their focus to the importance of sustainability in the hospitality industry as it relates to hotel development and operations, including the environmental, economic and social impact.

Sustainability is one of the most important issues currently facing our world. Here are some ways that you can put your best green foot forward and get amongst the initiatives used by other hotels around the world:

Cutting down on food waste.
For example, by growing food onsite, sourcing food locally, and shifting social norms to ensure that “plate waste” is no longer considered acceptable.

Eliminating plastic.
A step beyond recycling, doing away with single-use plastic products can help limit the huge amount of waste stemming from creating and discarding these items. Getting rid of plastic water bottles and plastic bags is a good place to start.

Creating a paperless hotel.
A task made easy by a modern property management system, which will simplify operations and streamline the guest experience while reducing carbon emissions.

Minimising water usage beyond the hotel room.
In addition to encouraging guests to be mindful of their water and towel usage, some properties are turning to innovations such as showers that filter their own water.

Integrating sustainability into the hotel architecture.
In building new properties, there is a “three-zero-concept” approach: using local construction materials and skills (zero kilometers), prioritizing energy management and lower emissions (zero carbon dioxide), and introducing life-cycle management into the building process (zero waste).
These are just a few steps that your property can take to minimise its environmental impact. Many hospitality businesses have made a useful commitment to sustainability by making simple changes to their usual practice.

For example, in the accommodation sector, some properties have had success with encouraging guests to reuse towels and to request a change of linen, rather than making it a daily norm. This small gesture can save a hotel a great deal in costs, while also reducing the hotel’s impact on the environment.

The key to making these changes successfully is educating guests and customers on why you are asking them to make these changes with you.

STAAH is one of our recommended suppliers. To keep up to date with their news, click here. And, if you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, please email Katy Phillips by clicking here.