• Covid-19 – click here for the latest updates from Forum Events & Media Group Ltd

Interior Design

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 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

Tap with water

Part 37: Putting sustainability front and centre in the bathroom

730 565 Hamish Kilburn

GTHD

PART 37: PUTTING SUSTAINABILITY FRONT AND CENTRE IN THE BATHROOM

Recommended Supplier Roca discusses sustainability in order to highlight how the international hotel design industry can save water and reduce wastage… 

Water consumption varies in hotels depending on the presence of swimming pools, saunas, laundry and catering facilities. However, water accounts for 10 per cent of utility bills in many hotels, with taps, toilets and showers comprising around 40 per cent of this total.

Any way we can reduce water consumption is going to be good for the hotel and good for the environment.

Bathroom manufacturing has become more sustainable in recent years and Roca has remained at the forefront of sustainable design by creating products that conserve water and protect the environment. For example, the bathroom manufacturer has reduced the capacity of its WC cisterns to optimise water consumption and developed plumbing products that shrink energy usage.

Guests are also being far more aware of the need to reduce water and energy consumption. In-roads have already been made in this regard, with a growing number of bathrooms now having a dual-flush cistern.

The objective is to stop unnecessary waste of water, without negatively impacting the perception of the user.

The right choice of products plays an important part in the management of water usage. And we deliberately say ‘management’ of water usage, because, although the overall aim is to reduce water usage, each of the products still has to work effectively. The objective is to stop unnecessary waste of water, without negatively impacting the perception of the user.

Water saving developments

Firstly, let’s look at some products that have been designed to reduce water-usage.

One of the latest innovations to hit the market are rimless toilets. The box rim has been eliminated, making the pan much easier to clean and eliminating areas in which bacteria can accumulate. The shape of the pan has also been redesigned, allowing us to flush very efficiently with as little as a 4/2L dual flush cistern. Considering that the average flush for new WCs is between 4L and 6L, a product like this can help to save considerable amounts of water.

Water saving technology can also be found in many brassware solutions. For example, Cold Start technology ensures water is only heated when it is required. Traditionally, when you turn on a tap, the water will be warm. This will automatically trigger the boiler, which can be expensive and wasteful, especially in a home where multigenerational families use water at different times.

Roca also has an exclusive piece of technology in its ECO disc cartridge, which helps to save water and energy. As the tap handle is raised, a slight resistance is reached at 50 per cent of the water flow and lifting beyond this bite point produces a full flow. The cartridge includes a temperature limiter which can be set at installation to eliminate the risk of scalding.

Innovation and product development are making significant headway in delivering greater water savings. For instance, the ground-breaking W+W from Roca uses waste water from the basin to fill the WC cistern, thereby reducing water usage by up to 25 per cent compared to a standard 6/3 litre dual-flush WC. The W+W basin has two wastes – the basin waste and one further down the waste pipe. The user has the option of either diverting it to the mains or recycling it by storing it in the cistern ready for the next flush.

Our Responsibility

As well as delivering bathroom solutions that save water and reduce wastage, Roca actively works to improve sanitation and increase access to water across the world. 

Created in 2010, the We Are Water Foundation is a Roca initiative which reinforces the brand’s historic engagement with society. On a planet with about 768 million people without access to drinking water and 2.7 billion without basic sanitation infrastructure, the Foundation aims to achieve two main objectives. First, to contribute to the spread of a new culture of water which is more caring, just and sustainable, and second, to help the world’s poorest and those with major water and sanitation problems.

The vision of the We Are Water Foundation is to continue growing worldwide, especially in countries where the Roca Group can, through its activities, participate more intensively to identify collaboration projects and contribute to the solution for water and sanitation problems.

Sustainable manufacturing

Roca also knows that how its products are produced is important so has created the Eco-Roca project, which looks at the production processes at its factory, as well as the development of its products and the social activities of the company. The project has two core goals, to cut CO2 emissions and to manage waste-free industrial processes via its Zero Waste Programme.

We have a greater understanding of the value of water and its wastage than ever before. Hoteliers and guests are mindful about the amount of water they are using and want ways to reduce it. It’s time to think seriously about water conservation.

Main image credit: Roca