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    Top 14 most tagged interior design trends on Instagram

    658 343 Hamish Kilburn

    With Instagram becoming the most popular social media channel for sharing and absorbing inspiration, here are the most tagged interior trends on Insta… 

    With so many interior design trends, it can be difficult to choose a style that fits a particular space best. While most of these trends intertwine, some are undoubtedly more popular than others.

    Since its launch in 2010, Instagram has become one the largest photo sharing social media networks. Along with Pinterest, this is where interior designers and architects tend to share colour schemes, ideas and projects.

    Following our exclusive series, Designing Instagrammable, here are the top interior design trends that are trending ‘The Gram’.

    Animation of woman looking out a skyline

    Designing Instagrammable: Big data = big opportunities for hospitality design

    800 533 Hamish Kilburn

    In part four of Designing Instagrammable, Scott Valentine, the Managing Director of Valé Architects, explains the benefits and potential of analysing big data…

    There’s a funny internet meme doing the rounds of a little boy asking Mark Zuckerberg if it’s true what his dad says that Facebook is spying on people, to which Zuckerberg simply responds ‘he’s not your dad’.

    But while the Cambridge Analytica saga may have done some serious PR damage in the short term, big data’s here to stay. Not in the least because it’s quite literally unstoppable.

    Advertising companies, insurers and supermarkets have been using big data for quite some time now because it allows them to better tailor their products to their users. In design, however, it’s still very much in its infancy.

    At Valé, we predict a huge shift over the next ten years in hospitality design. It’s a shift where predictive behavioural analysis will gradually replace the industry’s traditional reliance on intuition and guesswork – hopefully putting an end to wasteful design once and for all.

    Big data and personalising hospitality

    Big data involves extremely large data sets which can be analysed by computers to reveal patterns and trends about how we behave and interact with each other. It’s closely linked with Artificial Intelligence (AI) which allows machines to evolve and improve their own learning by consistently updating their data sets.

    It’s a pretty common misconception among designers that big data bears no real relevance to hospitality design. We disagree. At Valé we see huge potential in big data helping us to further personalise guest experiences in the hotels, restaurants and bars we design.

    The shocking misuse of personal data by companies such as Cambridge Analytica and indeed Facebook itself has given big data a bad rep. Unfortunate as it is, this isn’t likely to be more than a temporary blip while society tries to wrap its head around some of the ethical boundaries.

    Personalising guest experiences has probably been one of the biggest trends in hospitality over the past ten years

    From a design perspective, we can’t foresee many ethical issues. After all, we’re not seeking to influence a guest’s thinking or political views. We’re only seeking to understand their needs better so we can predict their behaviour and movement on site, which will then allow us to design our building around that.

    Predicting guest behaviour

    Personalising guest experiences has probably been one of the biggest trends in hospitality over the past ten years. It’s a scary concept for many business owners and operators. After all, how do you personalise your services without losing your economies of scale? But it’s a big issue for us as designers too, because how do you design a building that caters to so many different people’s unique taste and needs?

    Luckily, and no matter how wonderfully weird and unpredictable we like to think of ourselves, we’re also creatures of habit. Whether we like it or not, our behaviour follows patterns. Big data allows us to uncover those patterns.

    With the right information and of course the right tools to interpret it, you can predict most types of behaviour ranging from a person’s spending habits and their family set up, to their living situation back home and how influential they are on social media.

    As designers this then allows us to predict how a particular type of guest is likely to make use of a building, for example where they’ll prefer to sit, how much they’ll spend and the kind of pictures they’re likely to post on Instagram.

    From a business owner’s perspective, it allows you to increase your bottom line by allocating your design budget and resources in those areas of your building where you’re future guests are likely to spend most of their time and money.

    Guest profiling and big data

    Speaking of personalisation, many operators and designers rarely get any further than the generational ‘millennial’ tag when it comes to identifying their target customers. But those elusive millennials love everything from a cheap bamboo beach shack in Bali to the Hemingway Bar in the Paris Ritz.

    It simply doesn’t make any business sense to cater for such a big niche. And as the quote goes, ‘if you try and be everything to everyone, you’ll end being nothing to no-one.’ You really need to understand the world of the customers and guests who are likely to be coming through your doors.

    We’ve previously written about the design approach which brings together User Centric Design (UCD) and guest profiling. As we continue to fine tune our own guest profiling for the hospitality industry, we’re particularly excited about the work that’s also being done elsewhere by a number of startups and others. They provide the backbone data for the type of behavioural analysis that makes it possible to more or less accurately predict how your building is likely to be used.

    Companies such as Helix Personas, Defin’d, Experian and Ipsos make use of data sets built through either tracking apps, websites, surveys, local statistics providers, or a combination of those. They build very specific user profiles and behaviours by merging their own data with additional datasets such as hotel bookings, surveys and tracking apps.

    Other startups such as Neighbourlytics and Picodash go even further by pairing their data with information that’s public on social media accounts, or with certain government data sets which give them a better understanding of public behaviour in a particular local economy.

    No escape

    With the growth of consumer networks like fitness tracking, food delivery apps, shopping services and social media, the volume of consumer data is growing at an extremely rapid rate. These datasets provide massive opportunities for us as designers to better understand the behaviour of our future guests and to put an end to wasteful design.

    Big data is already big business for most banks, insurance companies and advertisers. Very slowly we’re starting to see a shift in attitude closer to home, with a number of large-scale developers dipping their toes in the water. Some are already in the early stages of user profiling as a way to help them build homes that are better suited to their target buyers.

    At Valé, it’s our core mission to be at the forefront of innovation when it comes to guiding our design process. We’ve no doubt that big data analytics and behavioural analysis will be the bread and butter for hospitality design in the next ten years. Trust us, you won’t want to be left behind on this one.

    This article is part four of a series of five. See below links to previous articles:

    Part one
    Part two 
    Part three

    Designing Instagrammable: Does my art look big on this?

    800 450 Hamish Kilburn

    In the third instalment of Designing Instagrammable, Valé Architects explores how public art can be used as a not-so-secret weapon to create an authentic sense of place…

    Pablo Picasso once said that art’s purpose is to wash daily life’s dust off our souls. If that’s true, then we owe a great debt to the many public and street artists for keeping our spirits clean and the art authentic.

    Public art has been around since we were still hanging out in caves painting mammoths. When done well it can make us think, act and feel in ways we didn’t do before. Done badly and it’ll be laughed at or worse – ignored entirely.

    As part of Valé’s ongoing investigation into what makes hospitality design remarkable, we’ll focus on the role of public art in putting otherwise unremarkable places on the map. We’ll also look at why this is relevant to your own business.

    Art versus design

    As designers we’re usually more than happy to be called artists. Yet, many artists would shudder at the idea of being called designers. So what’s the deal here?

    Artists and designers both create visual compositions, but their motives are different. The artist wants to create an emotional bond with their audience, while the designer wants to motivate that audience towards taking a particular action – like buying a product.

    Looking at it differently, artists are often the experimenters, while designers are the implementers whose role it is to merge creativity with wider commercial goals.

    But more interesting than the definition of art is the general public’s response to it. Public art always intends to connect with a far larger audience than fine art. Historically that audience was mostly limited to locals and visitors, along with perhaps a small circle of unfortunate souls back home sitting through the holiday snaps.

    But with a high-quality camera in everybody’s pocket, 2.2bn active Facebook users and more than 1 billion active Instagrammers each month, the potential audience for a public art or design piece is now limitless.

    Over the past ten years, literally everybody has become a photographer, art critic and influencer all at once. They’ll share what they feel is remarkable with their tribe, regardless of whether it constitutes art or not.

    Regenerating small communities

    A great example of how public art and social media go hand in hand can be found in the small outback town of Coonaplyn in South Australia.

    Once a bustling rural town, Coonaplyn had been down the dumps following the centralisation of its local businesses to other nearby towns. The local Coorong District Council felt something big needed to happen to put the town back on the map. It commissioned Brisbane based artist Guido Van Helten to turn five large grain silos in the centre of town into one large piece of public art.

    Famous for his large-scale portraits, Van Helten created a series of murals each immortalising a particular local resident. The response from the town was overwhelmingly positive. As local business owner Debbie Thompson put it: “you can’t make people stop, but you can create a reason for them to stop”.

    Coorong District Council’s bet paid off because the art led to a significant increase in the number of cars stopping on their way through town. Local officials estimated that the stopping rate went up by around 40 cars per hour, which eventually led to the opening of a new cafe and grocery store.

    That may not sound like a lot, but in a town where the main street was littered with boarded up shops, every little bit counts – not to mention the less tangible social benefits such a huge shift in local civic pride.

    Public art in urban spaces

    It’s not just struggling small towns who benefit from a cleverly injected shot of well executed public art.

    We spoke to David Don, a visual artist and the organiser of the Brisbane Street Arts Festival, who’s been at the forefront of the explosion in mural art internationally for many years. Don has produced street art for a number of projects commissioned by Brisbane City Council, as well as major property developers in the area.

    Their strategy is to turn public spaces into a type of ‘experiential immersion’ for local people and visitors.

    According to Don a growing number of developers now see quality street art as a must-have in both new and existing projects. “Art brings an authenticity to a location. It creates moments of surprise, narrative and activity. But equally, it has the potential to bring serious economic benefits.” he adds.

    Brisbane gallerist and curator John Stafford agrees. He feels the city is an example of how local councils increasingly see public art not only as a tool for creating safer communities but also for producing a sense of reassurance that a public space and the people in it are being cared for. According to Safford and as far as the city is concerned: “This approach not only benefits local community members but has the effect to boost tourism and the city’s brand and identity as a New World City”.

    Aware of how social media can make art a much more sustainable career choice, younger artists are increasingly blurring the lines between art and design.

    Local Brisbane property developers like Aria have been integrating public art into their projects for a very long time. Their strategy is to turn public spaces into a type of ‘experiential immersion’ for local people and visitors.

    It benefits the community, the local economy, and of course the developers themselves. After all, greater footfall and community affinity is more than likely to be reflected in higher property values.

    Art and design come together

    Aware of how social media can make art a much more sustainable career choice, younger artists are increasingly blurring the lines between art and design.

    Take Red Hong Yi for example, internationally renowned artists famous for creating portraits using everyday materials.

    Known as Red, her work is particularly interesting because it seeks a strong emotional connection, while also encouraging the viewer to take a particular course of action. She therefore effortlessly brings art and design together, with some of her art pieces lending themselves particularly well for commercial brands.

    She created an art piece for the Facebook Singapore office which was made entirely out of chopsticks. Her purpose was to inject some fun and creativity into the building. “The engineers housed in the building are coding all day so it balances the right brain thinking”.

    According to Red, most of the companies she works for see ‘public’ art inside their buildings as critical not only for conveying their brand, but on a more subconscious level also for encouraging their staff’s own creative process.

    In the future, she sees many more artists collaborating with big brands. It’s a win-win situation for both, with artists able to support themselves better financially, while helping big brands show off in a creative way.

    What does this have to do with you?

    So what does all this have to do with your hospitality business? Everything.

    If a town of two hundred people in the Australian outback can put itself on the map to the point that you are reading about it right now, then think of the value which a beautifully designed space or carefully curated art piece can bring to your own business.

    It’s a mantra we’ve repeated many times as part of this series – remarkability is key.

    Provide your guests with a sense of amazement, creativity and fun the moment they step into your space

    Inside the hotel, understanding the customer and client’s needs is paramount. If travellers have made the effort to travel to a destination because of its certain vibe, then reflecting and balancing this in the interiors, and in the artwork inside the hotel, is paramount, as the creatives at British design firm Goddard Littlefair know all too well. We spoke to them to get their insight as industry leaders. “Interpreting our client’s brief correctly and effectively is paramount and we conduct in-depth research into market and lifestyle trends to pinpoint exactly what a target market demands,” said Richard McCready-Hughes, the creative director. “We also find that some of our best work is delivered when there is a clear resonance between the aspirations and wants of our client’s target customer and the design team themselves. This is something we consider very carefully when assembling project teams.

    “Working on the Principal Edinburgh Charlotte Square, we were briefed to focus on a traveller tribe that wanted all the reassurance of luxury service, but was also looking for as sense of authenticity, belonging and assimilation with the city they were visiting. We wanted the hotel to speak immediately to these guests and evoke the sense that they were instinctively ‘understood’ and being welcomed into the home of a much loved, slightly eccentric, family member. Carefully-selected artwork and vintage pieces provide a sense of place, familiarity and nostalgia, but the overall effect is one of warmth and modernity.”

    So, get clear on what your brand stands for and who your future guests are. Then dazzle with quality design and art. Provide your guests with a sense of amazement, creativity and fun the moment they step into your space.

    But whatever art or design you choose, make sure it reflects your brand, and make sure it creates the right emotional response among your future guests. Most importantly, be original. Doing an exact copy of someone else’s great design is neither creative nor fun. A poorly executed version will only be remarkable on Instagram for the wrong reasons.

    Then sit back and watch your guests do your PR for you on social media. And just like Coonaplyn, maybe your business will make into one of our future articles.

    Learn more about designing for niche guests in the Niche Hotel Design Guide by Valé.

    Missed the last two articles on Designing Instagrammable? It’s okay, catch up on part one here and part two here.

    GUEST ARTICLE: Making a hotel shareable, the devil is in the detail

    800 534 Hamish Kilburn

    When it comes to creating a design-led hotel environment, the finer details really do count. Emma Segelov, head of marketing at MK Electric, explains why the type of wiring devices that are specified can have a fundamental impact on the look and feel of a space…

    Hotel designs are being critiqued more now than ever before, as they face up to the challenges of the digital age. Customer expectations have never been higher while, at the same time, it is easier than ever for them to offer criticism through review websites such as Tripadvisor or Trustpilot.

    To meet this changing dynamic, hotels have modernised at a rapid rate. Hoteliers are finding new ways to make their business sharable on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram – one New York hotel even experimented with an emoji-powered menu in a bid to create a social media buzz.

    This trend towards power outlets which add to the overall interior design and user experience is being led by a demand for greater connectivity on the go

    But, when it comes to creating an environment that wows guests it can often be the little things that count. In fact, the hotel booking site Trivago recently listed power outlets that complement their surroundings as one of its key elements for hotel design in 2018.

    This trend towards power outlets which add to the overall interior design and user experience is being led by a demand for greater connectivity on the go. It is now common for travellers to take multiple devices with them to a hotel, so many are choosing to add more power outlets so guests can access the power they need.

    To ensure these wiring devices keep with the look of the room, many hoteliers are choosing to add contemporary switches and sockets that complement the décor. By doing this, convenient access to power is prominent within the space, without having to hide the sockets behind furniture. After all, hotels have been known to use beds, desks and drawers as a means of removing unsightly products from view.

    MK Electric’s Elements Collection is one example of this kind of decorative wiring device. The range features stylish electrical sockets, contemporary light switches and electronic dimmers that come with touch control and ‘vapour trail’ LED displays.

    Inspired by materials such as wood, leather and stone, the collection is available in 16 standard finishes across four material designs – synthetics, glass effect, naturals and metallic – offering a range of colours, materials and finishes which will suit any interior.

    Each product in the MK Elements Collection is built to the very highest standards by global industry experts

    No two projects are the same, and to reflect this, MK Electric developed a tool to create unique and imaginative designs with flexibility: the MK Elements Collection Design Tool for tablet or PC. It is a customising device specifically for users to design their own bespoke creations.  The tool offers three levels of customisation, and whether a user wants to put a twist on an existing Elements design or start from scratch, they can easily create their own individualised light switches, dimmers and electrical sockets in hundreds of combinations. The ‘My Designs’ folder enables users to save their creations, request quotes and samples to help explore their options, and ultimately create the pieces.

    The Elements functionality includes innovative touch control dimmers with vapour trail, USB charging solutions with integrated USB two-gang switchsocket outlets and euro modules. The collection contains a variety of combination plates to achieve a multimedia offering in one device instead of multiple individually installed devices.

    Each product in the MK Elements Collection is built to the very highest standards by global industry experts. The range offers premium performance and long-term reliability, exceeding British Safety Standards and coming with a 20-year guarantee*.

    Hotels are under constant pressure to reinvent themselves and create a trend-led experience that impresses customers. Wiring devices that complement the hotel’s décor can create a unified design aesthetic within a hotel room, while providing flexibility through access to charge in key locations.

    Designing Instagrammable: Guest-driven brand stories and how to better understand the mindset of niche guests?

    1024 576 Hamish Kilburn

    In the second instalment of Designing Instagrammable, Valé Architects explores the routes as to why design has to evolve to cater to the modern traveller and how to understand the mindset of niche guests…

    Design – and hotel design specifically – is centred around the end user. Therefore, as designers, we should be looking for avenues to better understand the people we are designing for.

    Before Instagrammable

    One interior design firm which understands the concept of designing for niche guests is HBA London. “Designing for Instagram moments is nothing new,” explains Constantina Tsoutsikou, Creative Director, HBA London. “As hospitality designers, we have always sought to create moments that make memories, that move guests’ emotions and engage them. It’s just that we used to call them something else. These moments can inspire awe – a soaring atrium or a beautifully crafted staircase for example, or they can be much quieter – a carefully framed view or a tiny detail in an artwork that paints a thousand words. The difference now is that with Instagram guests can share this memory with all their followers, essentially endorsing the experience. In effect, Instagram moments enable guests to become ambassadors of the hotel.”

    The benefit of using Instagram as a design tool is we can generate guest driven brand stories

    In today’s world of the instant post and share, there’s three main differences that have existed for the first time in our history.  This is the vast volume of photos being taken and shared, secondly the influential sway that many of these photos can have on the success of a hotel and thirdly detailed look into the mindset of a hotel’s guest.  “A what?! What do you mean a look at guest mindset?” At Valé we use instagram photos as a design tool to measure user mindsets and influence the directions of a design.

    Using Instagram as a design tool

    The benefit of using Instagram as a design tool is we can generate guest driven brand stories. We touched on this in the Niche Hotel Design Guide, but we believe it needs to be explained in detail to be fully appreciated how valuable this could be for a hotel business.

    Our goal is to see brands through the eyes of the end user, which in the case of a hotel is the guest. The better we understand the hotel brands guests like, the existing relationships they have with those brands and what they like about them, the more defined our design briefs can be to reach that niche guest.

    The process involves researching the hashtags and locations tags of brand you want to be like (a muse brand), and categorising the photos users are taking of the property. Sorting into design elements, moments that show people or other common themes you see in a photostream on Instagram.  The remarkability chart below we’ve compared two hotels who we believe would attract similar niche guests, but in very different locations.

    What this does is help build a design story of that muse brand, a story about what their guests finding so remarkable they have to share it with the world. Over a sizable data set of photos, we can start to build brand stories driven by how the guests experience at the property. It can help indicate to the design team things that are important to guests.

    Measuring mindset affects your profits

    Understanding your guests mindset in-depth could give hotel owners greater clarity on where to invest time and money in their hotel, if it’s important to the guests you probably want to consider it in your hotel brief. Understanding the social status associated with your public areas (restaurants, bars) play a significant role in a brand identity and awareness. Further detailed analysis over a much larger data set may reveal that a room design only needs to be “good enough” where as your public areas MUST shine, must be remarkable. This again focuses budget where it will have the most effect on your business.

    How to measure mindset  

    We studied a six hotels using social media, review sites and our own observations and broke them into niche guest types, commonly known as archetypes in marketing. Our findings from the social status study is that the guest profiles of what we called Thrifty Destination Junkies & Reality Escapees were more likely to show off they are at a certain hotel. While the Luxury Aesthetic Chaser finds greater delight in sharing the remarkably design buildings, interiors and food with their followers.

    Those without their finger on the pulse are frankly risking it all.

    We measured from similar size data sets (in this scenario 50 photos for each hotel) to try understand the importance of being photographed at the hotel vs photos of the hotel. We would link such a study to the social status a guests received from being seen at the hotel and their mindset on the importance of being seen at the coolest places in town.

    Note we found that when the location was tagged there were greater volumes of images that had account holders in them, rather than images of objects, interior design or architecture. This indicates to us there is a social importance to be recognised to be aligned with a brand.


    As competition grows and the desire for personalised experiences becomes increasingly popular, designing for niche guests is a hotel’s ticket building a brand long-term brand loyalty. As our online footprint increases, technology and data collection improves we’re going to be able to build ever greater experiences for niche guests. Those without their finger on the pulse are frankly risking it all.

    Learn more about designing for niche guests in the Niche Hotel Design Guide by Valé.

    Animation of Instagram

    Designing Instagrammable: understanding the psychology of Instagram

    800 566 Hamish Kilburn

    All this month, Hotel Designs are working with Australian-based architecture firm Valé Architects to investigate how to design the Instagrammable hotel. In PART ONE of FIVE, Scott Valentine, the firm’s Managing Director, explains the psychology of Instagram…

    Instagram remains firm in being go-to tool for any business that’s serious about growing its brand identity. This year, the platform is fast overtaking most other forms of social media. If you don’t want to fall behind on your competitors, then learning how to use Instagram to promote your hospitality business may your best move all year.

    With 1 Billion monthly active users, it’s simply becoming essential for your business to have an Instagram account and an active presence. But what’s more important, yet often overlooked, is making sure that your space is designed in a way that makes it remarkable, so remarkable that everyone has to take a picture and share it with the world on social media.

    Social media, and Instagram in particular, have found a way of tapping into two core human needs of wanting to belong and wanting to feel significant.

    The vast majority of hospitality businesses Valé Architects consult tell us that they want to appear in the top nine Instagram tiles in a specific location. This appears to be the ‘Holy Grail’ of brand awareness and we understand why. After all, it sends out a clear message to future customers and guests of just how popular and desirable your hotel is with the cool Instagram crowd.

    But what does it take to be in these top nine tiles in your location? To understand that, we need to dig deep into the psycology of human behaviour.

    Why do people share?

    A New York Times customer insight group report showed there are six reasons why an individual shares:

    Six reasons why people share on social media

    This study was performed in 2011, only two months after Instagram was launched, but those innate human desires to both belong and be someone that matters haven’t changed of course. The only thing that has shifted since then is the sheer volume of people who use social media and the different platforms they use to fulfill those desires.

    What do they share?

    “Our goal is to not just be a photo-sharing app, but to be the way you share your life when you’re on the go,” said Instagram’s creator Kevin Systrom in an interview with in 2012. And he’s bang on the money because the vast majority of Instagram users share:

    • their lives
    • things that excite them
    • things they’ve achieved
    • things they place value on

    The introduction of Instagram stories in August 2016 provided us with even greater opportunities to share more of our day with our followers.

    Who do they share with?

    People like to share with their tribe. This tribe is a hodgepodge of people of family, friends and acquaintances who they know personally, and others who they don’t know personally but share a similar interest with.

    Many users focus their Instagram feed clearly towards a very defined tribe. Those type of users, we’ll call them influencers, are often able to create a strong and persuasive connection with large numbers of people they don’t even know. But how is it they are able to create these persuasive connections?

    The psychology of what makes social media so valuable

    As explained in Robert B Cialdini’s book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, there are six universal truths of influence.

    Diagram describing the Six Universal Truths of Influence

    All six principles play a role in the success of social media, but what makes Instagram such a powerful marketing tool is the way in which it uses the principles of Liking and Social Proof.

    A primary behaviour to understand is that people like those like them. Put in another way, We like other people who we think are like us.  As Roger Highfield reports in The Telegraph: “We prefer people we think are similar to ourselves. It is all down to a brain region which categorises people as being like us, even if all we know about them is that they have one thing in common.”

    A key behaviour that amplifies this value of liking is the follow on effect of social proof.

    “One means we use to determine what is correct is to find out what other people think is correct…We view a behaviour as more correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing it” (1)

    This means that if you can get people to advocate for your business on your behalf, then the impact is exponentially greater than trying to convince those customers yourself.

    Marketing guru Seth Godin sums up the effect of these two attributes perfectly.

    “People like us do things like this….we want to be respected by those we aspire to connect with, we want to know what we ought to do to be part of that circle.” (2)

    Instagram gives us the opportunity to feel part of the lives of people that inspire us and do similar things to what we do. It allows us to feel connected with those whose lifestyles we are attracted to. The greater the engagement level of the account holder with their followers, the deeper they are connected with their followers.  This grants them greater sway to influence the behaviours of a focused tribe of people, potentially helping grow your brand and selling your products or services.

    How can you use this as a business advantage?

    If you want your business to be a hit on Instagram, then you really need to find ways to tap into those deeper desires of belonging to something and wanting to be someone who matters.

    To help you figure this out, we’ve developed an easy to read visual design guide on how to make the design of your space as Instagrammable as possible. To get your free copy delivered to your inbox straight away, download the free Instagram Design Guide from Valé Architects here.

    References from this article can be found here.