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In Conversation With

In Conversation With: Senior designer Kate Jarrett on Hard Rock Hotel London

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
In Conversation With: Senior designer Kate Jarrett on Hard Rock Hotel London

Since becoming a Hotel Designs’ 30 Under 30, Kate Jarrett, senior designer at Scott Brownrigg has completed the Hard Rock Hotel London. Sitting down with editor Hamish Kilburn, Jarrett talks job satisfaction, preferred materials and the challenges that come with being a young designer in 2019…

The early summer vibes are in full swing; the sun is out over the capital and its latest hotel, Hard Rock Hotel London, has arrived.

Upon entering, the hotel is humming with activity. Guests are soaking in the iconic memorabilia hanging on the walls, while locals gather around the bar enjoying a post-work refreshment or two.

The Lobby Bar feels like an apt place to meet Scott Brownrigg’s Kate Jarrett, the senior designer on the project, who earlier this year became a Hotel Designs’ 30 Under 30. “This started with a passion for illustration, something I studied before moving to Brighton University to study Interior Architecture,” she says. “I then started as an interior designer and I haven’t looked back. I have worked across several sectors but my real passion is for hospitality design.”

“We have used drumsticks to create unique lighting over the concierge desk.” – Kate Jarrett

The completion of the new 900-key hotel, which is located a stone’s throw from Oxford Street, is the perfect stage for the designer to amplify what has become a milestone moment in her career. “We drew inspiration from the history of music and specifically instruments themselves, breaking them down in detail seeing how they have been made,” she says. “This was an unusual take on the obvious theme of ‘music’ and we never lost sight of this unique brief in our design. For example, we have used drumsticks to create unique lighting over the concierge desk.”

Drumsticks used as lighting in the hotel's lobby

Image credit: Philip Durrant

The hotel’s walls are plastered with memorabilia that reference the legacy of legends who stayed in Hard Rock Hotels in decades past, including Jimi Hendrix, Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Diana Ross and Madonna. Balancing the history and heritage of the brand in a timeless style to avoid cliché moments was the first task for design firm Scott Brownrigg when confronting the motifs that will be sheltered in the new hotel. “We knew we had to represent the Hard Rock brand in an innovative way for the contemporary London market,” Jarrett explains. “The hotel scene here is competitive so we knew we had to create something that tied into London and Hard Rock’s music heritage, while still being completely contemporary.”

Contemporary bar

Image credit: Philip Durrant

The F&B structure at the Hard Rock Hotel London originally took its inspiration from the original art-deco style ceiling of the Lyons Corner House that original stood on the site in the early ‘90s. “Great F&B and bars are key to the success of a hotel as they offer a destination for non-hotel guests too,” explains Jarrett. “For that matter, the expectations of hotel customers on what they want from the hotel experience has also changed. They want it to feel like a home, workplace and a space to socialise; the brief is more open than it used to be.”

QUICK-FIRE ROUND

Hamish Kilburn: If budget was no object, what product would you include in a project you are currently working on?
Kate Jarrett: An incredible art collection

HK: Best thing about being a designer in London?
KJ: The constant source of inspiration

HK: Where is next on your travel bucket list?
KJ: Japan – it would be like an experiential mood board. I already have a list of places I want to visit

HK: Where was the last hotel you saw that took your breath away?
KJ: I recently visited the Beekman in New York, and it really impressed me. That central atrium is like something straight out of a 1920s novel.

HK: What does luxury mean to you?
KJ: For me it represents a space that I want to spend time in, a collection of pieces whether its furnishings, art etc. that make me feel like I can sit back and slow down.

HK: What’s the last item that will appear on your bank statement?
KJ: Most likely ASOS… or coffee, as I’m always running around at the moment!

Without a doubt, it’s her ability to let the project do the talking that has made Jarrett the designer she is today. But the challenges of being a young designer in 2019 are far deeper than simply securing projects, or belonging to a leading firm. “London has a lot to offer, however it also means that you have to shout louder, metaphorically, to get yourself heard and to stand out in the industry,” says Jarrett. “Platforms like the 30 Under 30 I find career-affirming as they enable us to get our names out there and really help to showcase the talents of young designers.”

With sustainability arguably as big a talking point as any other at the moment in interior design and trends, Jarrett is insistent, where possible, on using naturally sourced materials within her projects. “I really enjoy working with natural materials,” she says. “Specifically, I like working with the tactile qualities of natural timbers, stones and the effects achieves by a neutral palette.”

“Scott Brownrigg has been really supportive and encouraging with the projects I have worked on.” – Kate Jarrett

At the root of Jarret’s decisions and place in the market is a design firm that has incubated and supported the young designer’s creativity to ultimately develop better places to live, stay and work. “At Scott Brownrigg, we are all encouraged to enrich lives through the environments we design,” she explains. “Scott Brownrigg has been really supportive and encouraging with the projects I have worked on. As a young designer it can be hard to establish yourself in a company, but Scott Brownrigg has really been great at championing me every step of the way. We’re a friendly, social bunch so I have also make some great relationships with colleagues along the way which has really helped.”

Aside from the Hard Rock Hotel London, current projects that Jarrett is working on that on the boards are firm proof that she is anything but a one-trick pony in the race. “We are working on an exciting hotel project in Stratford,” she explains. “This area is having a surge at the moment with lots of new developments, particularly in the hospitality sector. There are also some further Hard Rock projects we are working on; it’s great to get repeat work as it means we are doing something right!”

The fresh and vibrant interiors that surround the new hotel that everyone seems to be talking about are a reflection of the designer that Jarrett is becoming, or arguably already become. Modest, calm-natured and enthusiastic, Jarrett is, in my opinion, a credit to the firm that has helped support her on her way.

Main image credit: Tash Busta Photography

In Conversation With: Felipe Ávila da Costa, CEO of Infraspeak

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
In Conversation With: Felipe Ávila da Costa, CEO of Infraspeak

Arriving in the UK, Infraspeak is a powerful platform that offers fully customisable, sustainable technology for the hospitality market. Hotel Designs sits down with the company’s CEO and co-founder, Felipe Ávila da Costa, to find out more…

For years, the industry has been crying out for a platform that has been developed to make buildings smarter. Cue the UK arrival of Infraspeak, a solution for chaotic hotels that would benefit from improved operational efficiency and reduced costs of maintenance.

From humble beginnings in Porto, Portugal, the company was very much born out of the concept to bridge the communication gap between C-level executives and managers on the ground. Infraspeak’s journey, like so many other innovative tech-driven products, started at university with the initial idea to reduce paperwork for service men by introducing a digital platform. “It was Luís Martins who had the lightbulb moment for his final project,” explained co-founder and CEO Felipe Ávila da Costa. “His lecturer encouraged him to progress the idea, and it was at this point when he developed the foundations of Infraspeak.”

“Infraspeak emerged from the wings to take centre stage – and fast become one of Portugal’s largest start-up companies.”

After graduating, Martins kept Infraspeak as a side project – a hobby if you like – while working on other things. In his downtime, the he grew the brand’s roots in its colourful hometown of Porto. Soon, the demand for the game-changing software grew to the point that justified investment, which involved bringing Ávila da Costa on board. Infraspeak emerged from the wings to take centre stage – and fast become one of Portugal’s largest start-up companies.

Fast forward four fascinating years, the company now has offices in London, Porto, Barcelona and Florianapolis and 180 customers in seven countries benefiting from Infraspeak’s regularly updated software packages. “Every three weeks we automatically update the software, taking on board customer requests and the shifting demands from consumers,” explained Ávila da Costa. “Our software ensures that everything behind the scenes runs smoothly so that the staff can offer seamless service.”

One of the most recent case studies is InterContinental Palacio das Cardosas, which opened in 2011. By using Infraspeak, the hotel’s maintenance manager has reported a substantial reduction in maintenance calls. “Instead of 40 maintenance calls per day, now I only get 10,” he told the company. “For me, one of Infraspeak’s main advantages is that it allows me to stop worrying about everything that’s happening. It displays everything I need to know in a single platform.”

As well as improving communication between maintenance staff and the hotel, Infraspeak is a communication tool that is now used in other areas of hotel, such as house keeping, F&B and even energy management. “Every three weeks we launch a new software on the product so that the product starts to become a platform for all operational elements,” says Ávila da Costa.

How Infraspeak works:

One of the many unique selling points of the software is its sustainable aims. In a press release from the brand, the company explains that a staggering “80 per cent of hotel administration is largely paper-based and excel is most commonly used to run all hospitality maintenance. Infraspeak completely removes the need for paper as all facility management can be logged and traced to completion through the software. In addition, the product’s intelligent software uses data to start to predict problems in advance, rather than simply reacting to issues when they arise. This predictive approach to maintenance means Infraspeak saves time, money and resources with a sustainable and efficient approach.”

Quick-fire round

Hamish Kilburn: What is your number one bugbear when checking in to a hotel? 
Felipe Ávila da Costa: Waiting too long

HK: Iphone or Android? 
FAC: Android 

HK: What did you want to be when you were growing up? 
FAC: I wanted to be a film director, and then a bridge engineer and then a software engineer – it’s been a journey! 

HK: What’s the best thing about Porto? 
FAC: By far the personality of the city 

HK: What has been your largest regret in business? 
FAC: I’ve made lots of mistakes, but none have been regrets 

Although from the outside, the journey for the pair looks a seamless one, the reality is quite the opposite. “There have been many, many challenges. The first challenge was for hotels to come on board with our thinking,” explains Ávila da Costa. “We were lucky enough to get one of the largest hotel brands in Portugal to work with us. With 35 hotels in their portfolio, we really needed to understand their needs.”

From airports to shopping malls and of course hotels, the widespread demand for reducing paper waste and incorporating a seamless communication technology has allowed the company to straddle many markets. “Infraspeak is designed to be flexible, but the demand for hotels is massive,” explains Ávila da Costa. “We currently have more than 250 hotels using the product.”

Recent headlines in the mainstream news have demonstrated the need for individuals and companies alike to think further outside the box in order to become more sustainable. Platforms like Infraspeak are looking towards the future, providing practical solutions that are reducing carbon footprints around the world.

In Conversation With: Designer Mark McClure ahead of Clerkenwell Design Week

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
In Conversation With: Designer Mark McClure ahead of Clerkenwell Design Week

Ahead of Clerkenwell Design Week 2019, Morgan shares an insight into the mind of one of its latest interior design collaborators. Mark McClure discusses how the Goodwood table came to be… 

Furniture brand Morgan is preparing to once again wow visitors who are attending Clerkenwell Design Week later this month.

As well as inviting artist David Shillinglaw to redecorate the showroom with a vibrant feature wall, the company will also unveil two new interior design collaborations – one of which is with designer Mark McClure. Ahead of CDW 2019, Hotel Designs turned the tables, asking its recommended supplier Morgan to carry out an interview with its new design collaborator.

Morgan Furniture: Why did you choose to collaborate with us specifically?
Mark McClure: I worked with you in 2017 – when you invited me to create an installation and exhibition of artworks in their showroom and I found their whole approach to creativity and crossing over of disciplines very much aligned with my own. That, coupled with the beautiful quality and style of their existing collections, made them the obvious people to approach when I was looking to collaborate on some furniture.

MF: How was the experience/process compared to solo working?
MM: The whole process has been so very much smoother than I imagined. Collaborating in general – and especially with the folk at Morgan – brings the benefit of working with experts in their own field. Their knowledge of materials and processes added a whole new thought angle to my own thought process – and Katerina’s creative ideas overlapped nicely with my own even though we were coming to it from different directions.

Image of Goodwood side table in two sizes

Image credit: Goodwood by Morgan

MF: : What sparked your interest in furniture and combining art with a contract piece of furniture?
MM: I’ve always been drawn to the blurred lines between function and creativity. I’m lucky in that my work can be applied all kinds of disciplines and mediums – whether that be a mural on the side of a building, a sculpture in a gallery, or a mosaic for a table surface. I love that change of context and the change of audience and perception that goes with it.

MF: What inspired your design?
MM: A lot of my work is originally inspired by structural and architectural forms – but I’m increasingly contrasting these shapes with more rounded forms which lend the softer, more organic feel to the designs. This addition of more natural forms definitely feels more in tune with the natural grain and colours of the wood.

MF: What was your starting point for this project?
MM: We looked at a selection of existing Morgan pieces – with a view to combining the Morgan shapes with my design – so it all started with the choice of table shape. We opted for quite an understated Goodwood base in two nested sizes. This understated shape avoids a clashing of styles but also lends a complementing elegance to my work, which can be quite bold. Once that decision was made – I had a literal and metaphorical framework to work within.

MF: What is the collection’s USP?
MM: Bold, dynamic, abstract shapes – held together by the modernist elegance of the framework. The contrasting styles balance really well together.

MF: What was the main goal for the collection?
MM: To create something contemporary but classic – a meeting of styles.

MF: What were the challenges?
MM: The biggest challenge was showing restraint. It’s hard not to get carried away with exciting materials and details. But the saying ‘less is more’ exists with good reason – and after exploring a much broader range of materials and colours – we naturally returned to this palette. Even this restrained version still feels dynamic and exciting.

MF: What materials were used for the project?
MM: A mosaic was made up of Beech & Walnut – both painted and untreated – finished with brass details.  This was then integrated into a walnut table framework.

MF: Where do you foresee the collection being specified? (i.e. hotels, restaurants, etc.)
MM: I’d like to think the tables would sit comfortably in hotels, receptions and workplaces. The elegance of the table shapes make them adaptable – while the tabletop design – although distinct and dynamic – isn’t overbearing.

MF: Generally, where do you find your inspiration?
MM: I like to think of my work as a landscape. I’ve always seen beauty in the architectural shapes and structure of the city and these shapes are a constant, but increasingly sparks comes from everywhere and anything – with more organic, rounder elements coming into play. So whilst the structural shapes often form the base for a work – there’s other contrasting elements creeping in that might be inspired by plants, fabrics, music, lighting. The melting pot of disciplines and styles is what makes things interesting – it all makes up the landscape that surrounds us.

MF: What’s the key to a successful collaboration?
MM: I think the key is to collaborate with people you admire and respect. Everyone comes to a solution from their own direction – depending on their background and experience. That’s the beauty of collaboration – and appreciating those different backgrounds and routes is key.

MF: What’s the most interesting trend you’re seeing for 2019?
MM: Playful, geometric tabletops combined with modernist elegance. You saw it here first.

MF: What technology has made the biggest difference to the way you work?
MM: I’m about 20 years late to the CAD party – but I’ve only just started using it as my work has become more engineered and three dimensional. I created a bar with a drinks brand last year and taking what is quite a painterly approach – and drawing it up in CAD was a challenging – but exciting next step. To become loose and instinctive within that realm of 3D CAD is pretty exciting.

Morgan 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, click here.

Hotel Designs is a proud media partner for CDW 2019. In order to arrange a meeting with the team, please tweet us @HotelDesigns

In Conversation With: Sebastian Herkner, designer of the year

730 565 Hamish Kilburn

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In Conversation With: Sebastian Herkner, designer of the year

At just 37 years old, designer Sebastian Herkner who is known for straddling the boundaries between modernity and tradition, becomes  designer of the year at Maison & Objet. In between Herkner’s press calls and panel discussions, editor Hamish Kilburn caught up with the man of the moment discuss the evolution of his pieces…

What makes Sebastian Herkner a name to remember in the congested industry of interior design is his ability to effortlessly fuse together tradition with creativity.

His approach to design first became commercialised in 2006, after completing his studies at the University of Art and Design at Offenback, when he set up his own studio. His first landmark design, the Bell Table, took no less than three years to find the right manufacturer because of Herkner’s design being ‘ahead of its time’, the double-edge sword of being a leader with creative vision. The table consists of a steel and brass platter that nestles on a hand-blown glass base that was produced in a centuries-old Bavarian glass factory.

The bell table by Sebastian Herkner

Image caption: The Bell Table

His appetite for a challenge and his desire to explore unchartered territories has not only led him to design glasses, bicycles and perfume bottles or make forays into the world of interior design, but also to embark on an internship with fashion designer Stella McCartney during the course of his studies. “I was interested in the manufacturing processes used in fashion, and understanding how colours are put together” he explains. The flair for combining colours he honed whilst there now underpins his signature style. “Colour is often the very last thing designers think about. For me, it’s always the starting point for the whole design process”. He does admit, nonetheless, that “it can take years to find that perfect colour combination”.

“I want my products to become companions, which I believe is very important these days in order to create timeless pieces.”

Fast-forward 15 years from when he opened his first studio, and more than 120 product launches later, Herkner is today centre stage at one of the world’s most reputable design fairs, Maison & Objet, being dubbed the ‘designer of the year’, a title that feels not only thoroughly deserved but also one that feels totally appropriate for the man who never looks back. “My designs are not driven by target groups, they are more driven by quality and functionality, while mixing new technologies and materials with craftsmanship and colours,” Herkner explains. “I want my products to become companions, which I believe is very important these days in order to create timeless pieces.” These ‘companions’ sit in harmony at the show, exhibiting the designer’s journey.

Clip Chair for De Vorm

Image caption: Sebastian Herkner’s Clip Chair for De Vorm

Be it in his studio, surrounded by a six -strong team that herald from all four corners of the world, or during his frequent trips to China, Colombia, Thailand, Senegal and Canada visiting local manufacturers , design houses and craftsmen, Herkner has a longstanding habit of quenching his thirst for ideas elsewhere. “Different cultures, skills and lifestyles all fuel my inspiration” he explains . He also finds his inspiration in traditional materials, such as ceramics, leather, marble and also in art. Another of his iconic pieces, the “Oda” floor lamp (Pulpo , 2014), bears testament to that . Resembling a reservoir of light, the design was directly inspired by photographic images of water towers captured by Bernd and Hilla Becher. Every single source of inspiration is perfectly in tune with his quest for authenticity, his desire to use sustainable materials , and his sense of respect for the time it takes to create a truly stunning piece.

Bulbous glass light on floor

Image credit: “Oda” floor lamp (Pulpo , 2014)

Quick-fire round

Hamish Kilburn: What colour are you finding interesting at the moment? 
Sebastian Herkner: Salmon pink (in Matt)

HK: What is the one item you cannot travel without:
SH: My phone. I am addicted! 

HK: Where is next on your travel bucket list? 
SH: I would love to go to Peru. Big cities, unfortunately, look all the same. 

HK: Is there a trend that you hate? 
SH: When people choose to infuse ‘soft Skandi’ in their interiors. I love the Scandinavian look and feel, but I feel as if people should use it with more courage and strength. 

HK: Would you change anything in the last ten years?
SH: No, nothing. 

For a designer who is known for being ahead of his time when it comes to his ability to combine functionality with technology, I am somewhat taken aback when Herkner suggests that the industry has to some extent gone too far. “Smart homes is one thing, but i believe that furniture will remain still because they are designed for human beings,” he explains. “We need somewhere to sit, and I do not believe there is any need for charging sockets in the sofa – in the table, perhaps, but not the sofa.

Herkner’s recent accolade gives him a platform to unveil some of his latest creations whilst simultaneously showcasing the manufacturing processes that have always been so close to his heart.

Main image credit: Sebastian Herkner/Gany Gerster 

In conversation with Martin Pease, Managing Director WATG London

800 544 Hamish Kilburn

Hotel Designs’ editor Hamish Kilburn caught up with new Managing Director of WATG London Martin Pease to discuss what’s next for the integrated design firm’ …

As industry leaders go, Martin Pease is somewhat unconventional in many of his methods, which is possibly what attracted WATG to him in the first place. Just days into his new role as the Managing Director of WATG London, Pease looked comfortably in control as he welcomed me into the firm’s London hub in Fitzroy Square.

Pease joins WATG from Atkins North America where he was Head of Architecture and Building Engineering from 2014-2018. During that time, he grew the firm’s business by 40 per cent across six offices. Prior to that, he was Head of Architecture for Dubai-based Damac, the largest privately-owned property developer in the Middle East.

What does 25 years of experience look like?, I asked with interest as we kick-started the interview. “Under these rolled up shirt sleeves are a lot of bruises and scars,” said Pease as we sat down in one of the meeting rooms. “Clients are very demanding, and rightly so! When you’re spending a lot of money, you want to feel as if  you’ve got a trusted partner that gets what you’re about. In 25 years, I have been able to understand our clients’ businesses– maybe not as well as they do, but enough to grasp the touchpoints and the sensitivities in their market. 25 years of listening before talking and responding to clients in a way where that they know that you are putting them first has brought me to this moment.”

There’s something infectious about speaking to Pease. His hands-on leadership style is clear to see and also refreshing while his ability to always look ahead is inspirational. “I want to be involved in every aspect of the business because if you understand something then you can help and fine-tune what is a really strong business but can always be stronger,” he admitted. “The minute you think that you have achieved something and you’ve got it perfect, that’s the moment you should ask yourself ‘well what are we doing here? Is there something else we can do?’ because otherwise you stand still.”

Quick-fire round:

HK: Favourite colour:
MP:Somewhere between black and white.
HK: What’s your favourite hotel of all time:
MP:Chateau De Mercues
HK: Biggest bugbear in hotel design:
MP: Key cards that don’t work
HK: Favourite hobby:
MP: I paint and draw constantly
HK: Travel essential:
MP: My Ipod classic with all my audiobooks.
HK: Who inspires you daily:
MP: At the moment, Gareth Southgate.
HK: Favourite meal:
MP:A genuine Paella.
HK: Number one tool for success:
MP:You have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Architects don’t listen enough.

Pease arrives to the firm weeks after the WATG’s Great Architectural Bake-Off, which he promises me was not planned as he admits he is not the best baker in the world. Following the firm bringing together the best architects in London for the competition, I wanted to know how Pease saw collaboration in our industry. “The strongest organisations have a very solid collaborative spirit,” he explained. “You need to learn from mistakes that you make, as well as the mistakes that other people have made. Plus, clients are exactly the same. You need to be collaborative and cooperative. I compare what we do similar to that of an arranged marriage. It’s not a casual relationship that you strike up for a few weeks. Our relationships last years, and beyond if you are lucky enough to get repeat work. We are a bit like swans in the sense that we want to ‘mate for life’.

Pease’s unique style is a perfect match for one of the leading architectural firms in the world. With more than 19 major openings planned this year, Pease joins the firm at an exciting time and I look forward to following his and the company’s journey with interest.