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    Editor’s Letter

    Editor Checks In: Everyone’s gone eco!

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Editor Checks In: Everyone’s gone eco!

    This September, editor Hamish Kilburn has seen a rise in biophilic and eco design at London Design Festival as he prepares to go on stage at next month’s Independent Hotel Show (October 15) to put the topic firmly under the magnifying glass…

    I’ve got a confession to make. I’m not a naturally born eco warrior – and I don’t believe anyone who was born pre-Millennium is either. That’s not to be confused by someone who doesn’t care about the environment. It just means that I, like others, have had to learn – and learn quickly – about the many strands attached to this very real issue before being comfortable speaking about it publicly.

    “Reading the latest statistics on global warming sends physical shivers down my spine, like a glacier is melting down by back vertebrae by vertebrae.”

    Last year I was privileged to be among the first to interview Martin Pease as the Managing Director of architecture and design firm WATG London. While the interview was memorable, it was his response to one particular question that stayed with me. When asked what the number-one tool for success is, he said: “We have two ears and one mouth for a reason.” Since then, I have made it an editor’s prerogative to listen to many, not just one or a few, before finally being prepared to make sense of chaotic and stigmatised issues. And here I am preparing to dissect what is the most chaotic and complex matters our industry has perhaps ever faced: climate change and finding sustainable, ecological and realistic solutions to create harmony between design and nature.

    Reading the latest statistics on global warming sends physical shivers down my spine, like a glacier melting down my back vertebrae by vertebrae. According to NASA, most of the warming has occurred in the last 35 years, with the five warmest years on record taking place since 2010. Meanwhile, The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have decreased in mass, having lost an average of 286 billion tons of ice per year between 1993 and 2016.

    Designers, architects and suppliers have traditionally been good listeners when it comes to reacting to meeting the needs – and in this case requirements – of consumers. This month has been no exception. London Design Festival 2019 once again attracted the attention of the design world. Firstly, it awarded Dame Vivienne Westwood with the Lifetime Achievement Medal.

    Despite my initial concerns, it was not Brexit that was dominating the theme of every conversation in and between the many social events. Instead, it was the boundless possibilities of biophilic design; discussing, at length, who was using nature innovatively for good to create warm and thoughtful interiors. I have my favourites, as do we all, but it feels like it’s creating a free-flowing movement of ideas.

    I would argue that we are not quite yet surfing on the crest of the sustainability wave. Although we have the resources to hand when we catch it, we are reliant on each other – developers, owners, operators and investors – in order for it to finally, one day, become common practice to receive a brief to design a fully eco hotel.

    Cue next month’s Independent Hotel Show, where I will have the heavy responsibility to lead the discussion on how our global industry can work together to build more conscious and considered hotels. While I can’t promise miracles, I can guarantee that my expert panel and I have turned over every stone to ensure that we offer realistic visions of a sustainable future on the international hotel design scene.

    It’s already started, with hotels such as The Pig pledging publically that almost all food that can’t be supplied by the gardens is then impressively sourced within a 25-mile radius. And Monkey Island Estate in Bray-on-Thames, which features its own smoke house among many other intriguing elements in the garden, with still plenty of space for further expansion.

    My conclusion (for the purpose of this Editor’s Letter if nothing else) is that it is not rocket science. It’s simply about the industry collectively using creative thinking to offer new and functional solutions. Call it, if you like, the true art of modern hospitality.

    Main image credit: Act Studios

    Editor Checks In: Home comforts in hotel design

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Editor Checks In: Home comforts in hotel design

    In August 2019, editor Hamish Kilburn concludes that trends are overrated when a project close to his heart reaches its highly anticipated conclusion…

    I can’t quite believe it has been almost one year since we first started following the award-winning designer Nicky Dobree on her journey to complete her debut hotel design project. Before now, her undisputed talent was recognised for designing the interiors of 007-esqe luxury mountain retreats (Kevin McCloud’s words, not mine unfortunately).

    But this year, she has injected her effortless style to restore a 19thcentury building in Vejer, Spain, which is known as Plaza 18 – and Hotel Designs has been there every step of the way.

    Now that the season has ramped up to reach its peak, there’s no better time to put down the measuring tape, take a step back and reward Dobree’s “labour of love” as we cut the ribbon. More than 1,300 miles from Andalucia, the team in the London office are gathered around my computer screen as they impatiently wait for the folder to download, of which contains the final images of the new boutique hotel. Until now, you see, we have had to settle for shakey behind-the-scenes, unquestionably raw, photographs taken on location, as well as renders and sketches, which merely tease the luxury home-from-home concept in the making.

    You’d be wrong to assume it’s an easy task working on a project of this scale. What the hotel lacks in the number of guestrooms (six to be precise) it makes up for in personality. And if anyone could sensitively re-establish the heritage property in order to give it a new lease of life, it would be Dobree.

    “All that is missing is a luxury design-led hotel,” I think to myself as I run past the colourful beach huts (place your bids).

    ‘Home comforts’ feels like an appropriate theme for this month’s column. Four years after capturing my first solo metropolis memory, which then drove me to chase my career in a number of cities in the UK, I’ve hit a crossroads and have decided to take the right-hand turn, which has result in me hurtling back towards my hometown of Whitstable in Kent. Nestled on the north-east tip of the Garden of England, where home comforts – think sea views that stretch over the horizon and unparalleled sunsets – are never in short supply, this feels like ‘home’ to me. “All that is missing is a luxury design-led hotel,” I think to myself as I run past the colourful beach huts (place your bids).

    It seems I am not alone in chasing home comfort. Last year, a study published by Forbes showed that in the 10 cities with the largest Airbnb market share in the US, the entry of Airbnb resulted in 1.3 per cent fewer hotel nights booked and a 1.5 per cent loss in hotel revenue. But as damning as this statistic may seem, hotels are fighting back to offer more home-from-home comforts married together with one-off experiences to capture travellers’ attention.

    Examples of this can be found all over the Hotel Designs website this month, from our Miniview of room2’s ‘hometel’ concept in Southampton to a new ‘private members’ bar’-styled hotel that will open in London next year – and not forgetting the exceptional Plaza 18. Perhaps subconsciously, my year-long project with Dobree has led me to positively seek comfort in timeless style as opposed to chasing the short-term thrills of seasonal trends.

    Main image credit: ACT Studios

    Editor Checks In: March ’19

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Editor Checks In: March ’19

    Reviewing March: here’s to the future…

    One of the many treasures of being a young design editor comes the morning after the night before. Waking up fresh-faced, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed wouldn’t be possible if I didn’t feel as if what we achieved last night at Meet Up London was nothing short of being exceptional!

    Ever since I arrived at Hotel Designs in May of last year, I have taken tremendous pride in the fact that I have the tools and the ability to help open up the integral relationship between our readers and our brand.

    While the industry gathered at Minotti London for Meet Up London last night, I realised that our relationship opened up even wider when we welcomed a large handful of our industry’s rising stars. With the aim to bridge the age gap in international hotel design, we announced our 30 Under 30, which is made up of incredible talent. From those quickly climbing the ranks within leading design and architecture firms to others who are bravely going it alone to set up their own studios, all finalists in our 30 Under 30 have proven themselves to be creative geniuses.

    Although by the contents of our newly unveiled 30 Under 30 the future is looking bright, it was put upon James Soane from the London School of Architecture to address the elephant in the room when looking into the future of hotel design as he took the stage as our headline speaker at the event. “The hotel industry has a great opportunity to demonstrate alternative sustainable ways of designing, living and adapting,” he said during the engaging presentation. Soane’s passion balanced with knowledge took what could have been seen as a dry lecture and turned it around to be an alluring and healthy debate with great relevance.

    “Welcome to the new Hotel Designs.”

    While we are on the topic of talking about great opportunities, welcome to the new Hotel Designs. On a fresh website, all of our conversations, opinions, news and features are open for all to enjoy. This new platform is the result of the largest rebrand the title has ever seen. Our new slogan, “defining the point on international hotel design,” shows that we are prepared more now than ever before to cut through the noise in order to give our readers quality, relevant and engaging content.

    To mark the new era of Hotel Designs, we’ve dedicated the first sentence of our new chapter to a true design icon. Isle Crawford, the founding Editor-In-Chief of Elle Decoration turned award-winning interior designer, said in a recent Netflix documentary Abstract: The Art of Design: “Design thrives on restrictions.” Crawford has metaphorically cut the silk ribbon by being the subject of the first article to be published on the new website.

    And now it’s time to put all of our visions and ideas into practice. Subscribe and join us on our journey, complete with regular check ins, as we take international hotel design up a notch or two.

    Editor, Hotel Designs