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Fiona Thompson Richmond International

A winner’s Q&A: Fiona Thompson, Principal, Richmond International

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
A winner’s Q&A: Fiona Thompson, Principal, Richmond International

Following Fiona Thompson spectacularly winning at The Brit List Awards 2020, where she virtually walked away with the Outstanding Contribution to the Hospitality Industry title, Hotel Designs is finally about to present the Principal at Richmond International with her trophy. Editor Hamish Kilburn joined the designer for lunch and a catch up in their home county, Kent, commonly known as the Garden of England…

Fiona Thompson Richmond International

Admittedly, there was little to celebrate in 2020. For so many, the year is now a blur in history following Covid-19 and the pandemic which followed putting an eraser through any of last year’s social and then plans. The hospitality industry waded through each lockdown and slowly but surely hotels around the globe started to re-emerge – but, even now, travel restrictions are preventing the industry to thrive as it did before.

Despite the year being challenging for the majority of industries, it would be remiss to ignore the heroes in hospitality and hotel design who proved themselves of their leadership skills to put forward meaningful solutions while allowing us, the media, to share their community-centred and selfless initiatives.

The Brit List Awards 2020, which was broadcasted in November 2020 as a virtual event due to the circumstances at the time, aimed to do just that – with The Stock Exchange Hotel in Manchester’s Gary Neville, among other individual award winners, scooping up Hotelier of the Year following its decision to close its doors in order to open them up, free-of-charge, to NHS workers during the peak of the pandemic.

The Outstanding Contribution to the Hospitality Industry category, for many reasons, is the most prestigious award of the campaign – past winners include Kit Kemp and Robin Shepherd. It is open to all designers, architects, hoteliers and developers. Last year, the award was presented to Fiona Thompson, Principal of Richmond International, who was, in fact, the first designer I ever interviewed. Richmond International, a studio that Thompson was adamant to remain London, has completed projects such as Sandy Lane in Barbados, Rosewood Miramar Beach, The London West Hollywood and a cluster of Four Seasons and Langham hotels to name but a few. What’s more, I have seen first-hand Thompson supporting and inspiring the next generation of designers, such as Harry Allnatt who was a finalist in our 30-under-30 campaign a few years ago.

Between the award ceremony in November to now, there have been limited opportunities – if any at all – to see Thompson in person in order to celebrate her new title. But just the other day, we found the perfect time, place and weather to meet, allowing us to finally present her with the timeless trophy in recognition of her style and character.

Over lunch, nestled in the quiet countryside of the Garden of England, we caught up to explore diversity in design, getting the industry back on its feet and how much the industry has changed in more than 55 years since Richmond International first launched.

Editor Hamish Kilburn was finally able to award Fiona Thompson her award, seven months after the virtual awards ceremony of The Brit List Awards 2020.

Editor Hamish Kilburn was finally able to award Fiona Thompson her award, seven months after the virtual awards ceremony of The Brit List Awards 2020.

Hamish Kilburn: What have been the biggest changes since you started at Richmond International to now? 

Fiona Thompson: The industry has changed so much since I joined Richmond International as a designer in the early 80s, and then again as a studio director in 1992. In this time, we have seen a huge increase in new hospitality brands popping up around the world, an increase in demand for specialised spaces such as spas, the rise and integration of technology in hospitality settings, and a greater focus on environmental and socially sustainable design, to name a few.

Another key change has been the way that consumers use hospitality spaces and therefore what they demand from them. This was in fact the main driving force behind one of our latest projects, Múzsa at Four Seasons Gresham Palace, Budapest. We were tasked with responding to the changing demands of a hotel lobby and to create an experiential space with an energy that could attract both hotel guests and locals.

With this project, we moved away from traditional lobby design, in favour of creating distinct guest experiences, from sampling local wines in the tasting room to sipping cocktails in the lively, central bar. This not only gives the property its own vibrant identity, but it also helps drive revenue in a space that traditionally people just pass through.

Fiona Thompson, Principal, Richmond International at a Hotel Designs' roundtable in 2019

Fiona Thompson, Principal, Richmond International at a Hotel Designs’ roundtable in 2019

HK: As our winner of the Outstanding Contribution to the Hospitality Industry award, what words of advice do you have for designers struggling at the moment? 

FT: It’s been a tough year for everyone for so many reasons, both professionally and personally, but now it’s time to pull together as an industry so we can bounce back stronger than ever. It’s difficult to see great designers struggling, but with restrictions beginning to ease and life starting to feel slightly more normal again, we’re already seeing positive signs; for the first time in a long time there’s confidence in the market and new projects with fresh investment coming back online.

image credit: The Cosmopolitan, designed by Richmond International

image credit: The Cosmopolitan, designed by Richmond International

HK: What is the secret to success in hotel and hospitality design? 

FT: We’ve been in the hospitality design business for over 55 years, and in that time, we’ve learnt that the key to success is always a great team, which includes clients, operators, consultants and of course designers. Any project in a hotel or a cruise ship is a mammoth task that demands the commitment and efforts of so many different people.  

Image caption: Render of cabin inside P&O vessel, designed by Richmond International

Image caption: Render of cabin inside P&O vessel, designed by Richmond International

The most successful and enjoyable projects are always the ones where every player is pulling in the same direction. It’s important to remember that the initial design is only part of a long process, where ideas constantly evolve, so it’s vital that the entire team is aligned and working towards a clear vision.

In more challenging environments, it’s our job to listen and respond to conflicting points of view, but ultimately be prepared to fight for our designs and see them through to the end.

The plush Sterling Suite at Langham London

Image caption: The Sterling Suite, Langham London

“Surround yourself with design and designers, be observant and open to new things and learn as much as you possibly can from the people around you.” – Fiona Thompson, Principal, Richmond International.

HK: We recently celebrated International Women’s Day at HD. What advice would you give young designers wanting to climb the ladder – and were there any female mentors when you started in the industry? 

FT: At Richmond International, we support and champion all great designers and recognise the importance of mentoring and nurturing young talent. We’re a relatively inclusive industry, that is often less male dominated than the likes of architecture, but it’s still essential we continue to bring talented females into the industry and up the ranks into senior positions.

My biggest piece of advice for any young designer would be that you must love what you do and be passionate about the industry. Surround yourself with design and designers, be observant and open to new things and learn as much as you possibly can from the people around you. Secondly, I would always encourage young designers to be brave, bring your ideas to the table and contribute positively. As designers we would never criticise someone for suggesting an idea, good or bad, it’s all part of the process.

Large and spacious public area of plush suite

Image Caption: Penthouse of London West Hollywood

HK: What lessons have you learned during lockdown? 

FT: A big learning for me is that we can successfully work remotely, especially for aspects of the job like team and client meetings. That being said, the value of face-to-face meetings should not be underestimated or forgotten. When meeting a client in person, there’s an opportunity to build chemistry and trust, and when we’re all in the studio we can bounce ideas around and brainstorm together. There is a real spark that’s created from in-person collaboration, it’s certainly something I can’t wait to get back to.

Without commuting and having to travel to projects, which ordinarily is a huge part of the job, I’ve definitely seen an improvement in my own work/life balance, as well as that of my colleagues. While travel will inevitably return, the balance is something we will be more mindful of as a company moving forwards. 

HK: What other projects are Richmond International working on at the moment? 

Despite the events of the past year, we’ve been extremely busy. The team have worked on lots of exciting new projects, including the renovation of the iconic The Langham, Boston, the refurbishment of Tuscan hotel, Grotta Giusti and the introduction of a new destination spa on site, as well as various spaces onboard the new addition to the P&O fleet, P&O Iona. We will be able to give you more details on these very soon!

HK: If you had the power, what words would you ban people using in the industry? 

I think it would have to be photo sharing social media sites. While they are brilliant for showcasing visuals and discovering new and exciting hotels, restaurants, bars and even designers from all corners of the world, I worry that it can often stifle our creativity and curiosity. For me, great designs are born from team brainstorms and discussions where designs are reviewed and evolved based on new discoveries and changes in approach. After this process, the finished product will not just be aesthetically pleasing and fit the purpose but also completely original, rather than a replica of something that we’ve seen online.

If you would like to take part or nominate someone for The Brit List Awards 2021, you have until August 6 to do so. Once entries close, the shortlisted finalists will be announced in September and the award ceremomny will take place on November 3 at PROUD Embankment, London.

Main image credit: Richmond International

luxe suite inside Langham Boston

Richmond International unveils new interiors at The Langham, Boston

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Richmond International unveils new interiors at The Langham, Boston

London-based hospitality design specialist, Richmond International, reveals stunning interiors at the iconic The Langham Boston, following an extensive three-year renovation…

With a range of dynamic spaces accommodating both guests and day visitors, The Langham, Boston, a landmark hotel, has reclaimed its position as one of the country’s most desirable destinations following the completion of a three-year renovation by design studio Richmond International.

luxe suite inside Langham Boston

The project includes a complete transformation of the lobby, meeting rooms, event spaces and all guest rooms, as well as the addition of The Langham Club, and a brand new bar and restaurant.

The design carefully considers the building’s location in Boston, Massachusetts and draws on its history as the former Federal Bank of Boston. Richmond International expertly curated The Langham Boston’s new art collection which includes existing and commissioned pieces, reflecting the building’s rich background.

“This project was hugely exciting for the whole team,” said Fiona Thompson, Principal at Richmond International who won Outstanding Contribution to the Hospitality Industry award last year at The Brit List Awards. “We’ve worked with The Langham Group for many years on some of the finest hotels around the world, so we know the importance of integrating the historical and cultural influences of this fascinating building and city with a contemporary yet classic design that has become synonymous with The Langham brand”.

Hotel lobby and rear lobby

The lobby takes inspiration from the building’s banking heritage with bespoke furniture and lighting indicative of the space’s former life as a bank. A double-sided Chesterfield sofa, a modern take on banker’s lamps, and hand-tufted rugs replicating the colour scheme and motifs found on a dollar bill, all help to create a warm and welcoming lobby area; a charming antithesis to the imposing facade.

A focal point of the hotel Lobby, a bespoke artisan map of the city of Boston, has been produced using liquid metal on a cast resin base and sits behind the reception desk. A large portrait of the renowned Bostonian portraitist John Singleton Copley was created exclusively for The Langham Boston by Samuel Gareginyan and sets the tone for the for the significance and prominence of portraiture throughout the hotel.

In addition, the Rear Lobby has been transformed into an elegant entrance space with the introduction of a new, sculptural staircase leading to the ballroom, an ideal space for an intimate social gathering or for welcome drinks before a larger function in the Lincoln Ballroom.

Image caption: Sitting area in the lobby. | Image credit: Langham Hotels

Image caption: Sitting area in the lobby. | Image credit: Langham Hotels

Governor’s and Lincoln Room, Wyeth Room and Lincoln Ballroom

The Governor’s and Lincoln Room is a refined space that celebrates the historical significance and functionality that the room had as the bank’s former boardroom. Traditional panelled walls remain and, in-keeping with the theme, the plaid carpet is a nod to the tailored suits that were worn by the bankers. Historical photographs of the building and an assembly of antique maps of Boston and the surrounding towns and districts of Massachusetts adorn the walls.

Carefully renovated to preserve all its historical features, The Wyeth Room is the larger of the meeting spaces. The existing murals were lovingly protected during the refurbishment and now gallantly oversee the space. The Lincoln Ballroom is a new addition to The Langham, Boston and continues the sense of historical significance and classic aesthetic. A new vaulted skylight combined with the large windows create a bright and airy space for any occasion.

Grana and The Fed Bar

The new Grana restaurant is a vibrant destination and true celebration of its former life as main hall of the Bank, one of the most historical spaces in the building. Original features such as the stone flooring and the original terrazzo floors complete with the official Federal Reserve Bank seal were meticulously restored to their former glory. Likewise, the original frieze ceiling was maintained with the addition of a backlit lantern skylight to introduce an abundance of light into this expansive space. Fusing the new with the old; a modern interpretation of the original banking hall clock was created and a dramatic, modern sculpture of the Liberty head coin, created by Lyle London, is suspended above the entrance staircase.

In recognition of the former Federal Reserve Bank presidents, the restaurant features eight classic contemporary portraits by Debra Keirce, an award-winning member of The Portrait Society of America. Richmond International worked with local Boston Gallery, The Copley Society, which provided artworks throughout the property.

The hotel’s new bar, The Fed, is a sophisticated space with a lively central bar and intimate seating area. A tasteful take on a 1920’s private member’s club, the bar features a rich colour palette, velvet finishes and gold accents, as well as an eclectic mix of artworks and Persian-inspired rugs, a reflection of the 1920s and a new era of travel. 

Guestrooms

The guestrooms are inspired by travel, the New England coast and Boston’s history as one of the first places in the US to be colonised. The design touches in these rooms include a cellaret based on an old traveller’s trunk and a fresh colour palette for an inviting space to settle and relax after a long journey. Artwork celebrating Boston’s culture, environment and history pepper the walls either side of the headboard, from the Boston Red Sox, New England-native birds and vintage stock certificates. 

The split-level Loft Suites each feature a sculptural art installation created by Boston-based ceramic and clay artist, Jeremy Ogusky that accentuate the double-height ceiling. Each installation comprises of approximately 60 pieces of wheel-thrown glazed plates arranged organically; the end result is a completely unique installation for every suite.

The hotel’s flagship suite, the Chairman Suite, channels the spirit of New England with a contemporary classic nod to the 1920’s period, including panelled walls and a selection of Persian-inspired rugs over a timber Herringbone floor. The suite also features an eclectic collection of unique items that one might acquire over time, capturing the essence of a true traveller. Furthermore, a one-of-a-kind installation from US-based paper artist, Olga Skorokhod, decorates the dining room wall.

The Langham Club

The Langham Club, a signature feature of The Langham Hotels & Resorts brand, has a clean and tailored aesthetic harmonised with contemporary detailing. The artwork in this space is a diverse mix of portraiture, sculpture and photography with subtle nods to the lounges of London and Chicago.

Main image credit: Langham Hotels

Virtual roundtable: Tomorrow’s perception of clean

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Virtual roundtable: Tomorrow’s perception of clean

To cut through the noise and with the aim to identify meaningful solutions, Hotel Designs’ next virtual roundtable, in association with Geberit, tackles the hygiene debate to ultimately understand tomorrow’s perception of clean…

On the panel:

Hamish Kilburn: I really feel for suppliers and manufacturers during this time, during the Covid-19 crisis, because it is so difficult to predict what consumers will demand moving forward and therefore designing products that are suitable for tomorrow’s guests who are checking in is such a challenge. But I want to know, is hygiene becoming a selling point in itself and is this driving innovation at Geberit HQ?

Lynne Clapham-Carter: Hygiene has always been a driver in bathroom manufacturing and Geberit has always been at the forefront of innovative tech – both in terms of hygiene and water-saving solutions – for the last 150 years.

What I am finding is that technology has been in place for a while and now people are beginning to discover this, which is driving demand. Hygiene and touch-free tech has long been standard for many commercial spaces. Now, as a company, we are seeing this being pushed into the residential space.

A modern, sleek bathroom

Image credit: Geberit

HK: Hygiene has been the fundamental topic in every conversation recently – but our industry is, by its very nature, already setting high standards when it comes to clean and safe spaces. How will hospitality reassure the post-corona consumer without making it feel sterile? 

James Dilley: It’s partly perception. I think, pre-pandemic, we were seeing a lot of the non-touch tech evolving in any case. The way check-in areas have changed in recent years is a prime example of this. In theory, and I don’t believe hygiene was the driver for this, we can go through a hotel experience without having to touch anyone or anything. The counterpoint of that is in the luxury market, where there has been a strong demand for real human contact. People will pay more for a human to deliver that service and they [luxury hotels] will have the challenge to deliver that in a post-pandemic world.

HK: When it comes to lifestyle and luxury, does the perception differ?

Hannah Willock: Everyone is so well travelled now that, I believe, it spans across both – you want the hotel to feel like a home-away-from-home. We’ve had a lot of conversations recently about injecting technology in a meaningful way so that the hospitality experience is accessible to everyone.

“Bathrooms are semi-blessed for appearing to be cleaner than clean.” – David Mason, Head of Hospitality, Scott Brownrigg.

HK: Now more than ever there is that bridge between design and service. Are you then, as designers, more involved in conversations regarding service at an earlier stage of the design project?

David Mason: As designers, we have always been part of that process considering that we are creating experiences. So, I think we are always working with those touchpoints in mind. Bathrooms are semi-blessed for appearing to be cleaner than clean – not like, for example, soft furnishings or fabrics. If we are going to go back to this very tech-driven approach to design to move people around the space, we have to then remember to include more touchpoints to make up for the human element and interaction being lost.

“You don’t therefore want to make it feel clinical.” – Fiona Thompson, Principal, Richmond International.

HK: What are the pitfalls to avoid when looking at tomorrow’s perception of clean?

Fiona Thompson: When you are in a hotel there is an assumption that there is a level of clean. And I know that the big hotel group are collaborating to maximize this, but from a human level there is already a strong assumption that hotels – in general – are clean spaces and that, especially in the bathroom, that there is a level of cleanliness. You don’t therefore want to make it feel clinical. It’s now about creating that balance.

HK: Tamara, you are working on a very exciting development in London. Do the conversations differ between hospitality and residential?

Tamara Ayorech Okello: I think we are all striving for an enhancement to what we already have. A lot of our purchasers, post-covid especially, are putting more emphasis into the bathroom being a space of tranquility. In residential, it’s about having loyal and trustworthy suppliers who can ensure that the spaces look amazing but also out-perform others on the market. In terms of client engagement, the most common thing we are seeing being demanded in the bathroom is quality fixtures and fittings. That is not going to change, it’s only going to progress – and it’s something people are more inclined to invest in.

“At first, we see these high-tech products emerge in suites but when demand surges the cost of these items will come down and they will become almost as standardized part of the bathroom design.” – Richard Snow, Senior Designer, RPW Design.

Light and bright modern bathroom

Image credit: Geberit

HK: One of the takeaways from a recent Hotel Designs LIVE event we hosted was that wellness would be injected in all areas of the hotel moving forward. That suggests to me, as you were saying Tamara, that clients and consumers alike will put more emphasis on the bathroom. How are these spaces becoming more than just practical spaces? 

Richard Snow: New technology, such as the shower toilet, is starting to become an interesting conversation. At first, we see these high-tech products emerge in suites but when demand surges the cost of these items will come down and they will become almost as standardised part of the bathroom design. We’ve had rooms in the past where we have designed them as a spa room and I think it depends of budget, quality and style. It’s exciting that more products are becoming available that make these rooms more of an experience. For me, it will be interesting to see how that technology from the five-star level drips down into more accessibly priced hotel experiences.

HK: Do you think that spa experience will become standardised?

FT: I’m not sure if ‘spa experience’ is the right phrase, but health and wellness is such a large factor at the moment for all sectors in the hospitality arena. Covid-19 has changed such a lot that I believe the bedroom and bathroom will just become such an intimate space which allows for the wellness experience to be elevated.

HK: In recent times, lifestyle brands have not been afraid to target themselves to a particular, often narrow, demographic. In lifestyle specifically, what are the hygiene demands from modern travellers?

JD: The W Edinburgh is highly tech based and without touch, however, when it opens, the guest will have a choice. The challenge for this hotel is that there are no barriers between the city and the hotel – it is an extension of the neighbourhood and there is no perception of security or threshold for that matter. And actually, the most public of spaces in the hotel are right at the top of building in order to utilise the view across the city. The challenge will be how to control and manage people from outside. There are a lot of challenges but hotels’ currency is hygiene and sanitation. Now I am just seeing that businesses are just packaging the messaging in different ways.

LCC: A few years back, Geberit published a white paper that looked at the five senses in order to create a safe haven within a bathroom or guest suite to actually look at it in a holistic way. From our side, it was about understanding the challenges and how they get assaulted and creating a space where you feel space without it feeling clinical. As a manufacturer, our job is to address the acoustics, the smells and touches (all those tactile things) and how they impact in product.

“When we eventually do come out of the Covid-19 pandemic, social contact will be mayhem in such a beautiful way.” – James Dilley, Director, Jestico + Whiles.

HK: What would you say are the main demands you are hearing from designers and architects at the moment?

LCC: Swapping things from touch to touchless. That would be the biggest enquiry at the moment, and that goes for both residential and hospitality.

FT: Particularly in public spaces.

RS: There is a different perception in public and private areas. I think there is an element of guests wanting to be in control in their own private spaces.

JD: I am a great believer in that for every action there is a reaction. And for me, there has been a lack of social contact recently. When we eventually do come out of the Covid-19 pandemic, social contact will be mayhem in such a beautiful way. I also think this will be the same with hygiene and sanitation. We have been closeted and constricted for two years and I think consumers will demand for sharing plates.

DM: With the vaccine as well, we are getting a positive approach that we will come out of this and it is helping us move forward.

JD: The irony is that by making the hospitality experience touch-free is to use your mobile phones, and mobile phones have got to be the most unsanitary objects in our lives. The fact that we are using them to combat germs just does not make any sense.

HK: Will shower toilets become more popular in the west?

FT: I think it is happening. In more and more of the properties we are working on it has become an option. I think that’s partly because it is an added facility and sometimes it is a space saving answer to the brief to remove the bidet. There is more of a challenge to introduce these in public areas.

RS: When you are in Japan, they are everywhere but certainly here it will take time for the shower toilet to be embraced.

TAO: In residential, I can see the shower toilet being embraced but I am not sure how that would jump into the hospitality public areas.

LCC: One of the things I find interesting in this conversation around shower toilets is that our society has become a lot more multi-cultural now and participially in the hotel industry people are travelling and in Japan, as an example, more than 50 per cent of people have shower toilets in their homes. So, when they come to a hotel and are paying large sums of money for a night they will expect the same, at least, if not better than what they have in their hotel. Hotels are using refurbishments as an opportunity to install these products.

HW: In our projects in the Asia/Pacific region, we are speaking with suppliers to ensure that the shower toilets we specify are simple and easy to use. Also, in addition to the obvious features of these products, clients also buy into the other benefits such as the anti-bacteria cleaning features.

FT: if you can simplify the controls, then people will use it.

Image of urban large bathroom

Image credit: Geberit

HK: Can we do better than sensors when it comes to touchless tech? 

HW: We are seeing a lot of app-based technology especially when it comes to showering. In a residential setting that is becoming really popular but in a hotel that throws in a lot of challenges, it is possible and if the conversations are had at the very start of the project it can be integrated into projects successfully . I think we will begin to see more and more adoption and integration of this in hospitality over time. What is key is ensuring the success is that if it’s used  its user friendly for all guests across the board.

DM: I worked on the Eccleston Square hotel, which stored guests’ information so that the temperate of the room and service requirements could be replicated when the guest returned. That was 10-12 years ago so the technology is there but it is about streamlining the process. It is at the end of day a balance.

I think it’s also a generational thing. What works for one demographic won’t necessarily work for others. We need the choice, tech is advancing all the time, who knows what it will look like in five years’ time.

RS: I think technology will slowly drip in in order for the change not to be so dramatic and sudden. Given what happened a decade ago, when tech flooded a lot of hospitality experiences, designers are very aware to make gradual steps forward that are considered in order to enhance the overall guest experience.

LCC: There is the perception that technology and wellness do not fit well together but in actually fact the opposite can be true. There are a lot of things about technology that can help wellness. In the early days, we used motion sensing in touchless tech but now it is proximity sensors which are far more accurate. There are features in flush plates where as you walk towards them an orientation light glows. This is opposed to having all the lights on if you wake up in the middle of the night.

JD: What we are saying is that tech is filling the void of what good service used to be. If you checked into a good hotel 20 years ago, the General Manager or the concierge would recognise you and to an extent recognise your demands and preferences. They would have this knowledge – it’s trivia but it recognises care and consideration. Somehow those symbols of luxury are being replaced with technology and I find it quite a hallow gesture compared to the human touch that we used to have. That’s why I believe the human touch will never be replaced in the premium hotels.

HK: For me, tomorrow’s bathrooms will play on the five senses – can we inject sound/smell/touch into the bathroom experience without being gimmicky? 

FT: As long as it isn’t cliché. Great lighting is a given but some of these experiential showers deter from a great experience. Anything that addresses the senses has to be thoughtful and meaningful.

Geberit is one of our Recommended Suppliers and regularly features in our Supplier News section of the website. If you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, please email Katy Phillips.

Main image credit: Geberit

In Conversation With: Harry Allnatt, Richmond International

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
In Conversation With: Harry Allnatt, Richmond International

Following Hotel Designs’ public unveiling of its 30 Under 30 at Meet Up London, editor Hamish Kilburn catches up with one of the winners, Harry Allnatt from Richmond International, to discuss challenges and opportunities that come with being a young rising star of the industry…

Among Hotel Designs’ celebrated 30 Under 30s, which were spectacularly unveiled at Meet Up London, is Harry Allnatt (29).

A unique and talented young creative whose ability is most certainly not defined by his date of birth, Allnatt is a senior designer at Richmond International. Having been at the firm for eight years, he is now a vital team member who has worked on some of the company’s most important hotel and hospitality projects in recent years, including Four Seasons Hvar, Langham Boston, The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas, P&O Britannia and many others.

The foundations of Allnatt’s career started following an early admiration of design. He attended Nottingham Trent University to study furniture design having been inspired by the ethos of the likes of Jasper Morrison. “My goal at the time was more to be an architect and, in my head, furniture design was like mini architecture.” he says. “As part of the course, in 2009, I was encouraged to partake in a placement year. Before I knew it, I was working for an architectural practice in Milan that specialised in hospitality and high-end design.” It was at this point in his career when Allnatt’s curiosity took over. “Why stop there, I thought. I started to think about more than the pieces I was creating, to the room and space around the furniture,” he explained. “Milan certainly enriched my interest in furniture design, but the placement year also exposed me to so many new projects, which led me into the path of interior design.”

As a result of his studies and the valuable experience he gained in the design incubator of Milan, Allnatt started to acquire a unique set of skills as a creative designer in order go beyond  decoration. “It’s actually really helped me to add value to projects, especially when required to design certain looks,” he said. “It also allows me to design interiors and furniture that is not just aesthetically pleasing, but that also meets operational standards – standing the the test of time and enabling staff to maintain excellent service.” An exceptional example of this is The Sterling Suite in The Langham London, which is frequently praised for its effortless functionality and timeless feel. Allnatt admitted to working on almost all of the six-bedroom suite’s casegoods and laughs: “I don’t think I could do that one again.”

The plush Sterling Suite at Langham London

Image caption: The Sterling Suite, Langham London

Approaching every project around peoples’ movements and behaviors, Allnatt’s ethos is a tight fit for Richmond International, which is known for being a company that designs awe-inspiring hotels that are also practical spaces. “I’m inspired by stripping things back to discover what is necessary,” he says. “To me, that’s what makes a beautiful project – and it’s this approach that is now very relevant in interior design. If a space is designed to be used well, then it will enrich the overall experience of the people using it.” Allnatt’s explanation gives credence to the obvious shift in how modern design is perceived by those checking in; the knowledgeable and more aware consumer.

Unchartered waters ahead

With its prestigious reputation on the international hotel design stage, Richmond International was asked to repackage its luxury hotel visions onto the high seas. With the aim to modernise all spaces, the team, led by Director Terry McGillicuddy, were asked by P&O Cruises to redesign two new ships, Britannia and Iona. “Britannia was by far the most challenging project, purely because of the amount I had to learn and work out on the job,” explains Harry. “I learnt quickly about the regulations from Terry, P&Os incredible technical team and the shipyard. However, going from designing for land to designing for sea was a challenge, but I am so proud that we were one of the first hotel designers to really tackle a project of that magnitude at sea.”

Simple, minimalist cabin on board P&O Britannia

Image credit: P&O Britannia

Following the success of both vessels, Allnatt, the retentive designer, is now a senior designer working on the firm’s next marine project, to create the interiors of a new luxury cruise liner of which the details are yet to be unveiled. “It really is like designing a city on the sea,” Allnatt laughs. “The beauty of it [designing cruise ships] is that we get to create so many different spaces – from the casinos to the theatres, cabins to bars.”

The challenges for young designers

Being young in an industry full of legends can be daunting, to say the least, which adds to weight on the shoulders of having to prove oneself as an individual. The somewhat right-of-passage feeling of unease and overwhelming responsibility that comes to us all in the start of our journey, was for Allnatt the time to stand out. “The industry is saturated with great designers, and the landscape is so subjective,” he explains. “Creating an identity and establishing yourself, inside and outside the company I believe is one of the major challenges that young designers have to face in our industry.”

QUICK-FIRE ROUND

Hamish Kilburn: What’s your favourite colour?
Harry Allnatt: Blue, I love grey and all the different shades.

HK: What’s been your favourite year so far?
HA: 2018 was the year that shaped me the most. It’s been lovely having a local project in London and seeing it through from concept to site completion. Seeing something take shape on a daily basis has been very rewarding, but not without it’s problems.

HK: What is your favourite hotel?
HA: Rosewood London because it all ties together. The rose-bronze gallery from the courtyard entrance, the staff uniform… even the guest signage, which is an open book sitting on a plinth. There is an unmatched sense of discovery in this hotel. Details you notice makes the space more than just a good-looking luxury hotel.

HK: Are there any shortcuts or secrets for getting ahead?
HA: I wish I knew them. It’s as simple as working hard and soaking up information as a sponge. Being a designer is a lifestyle.

HK: Where’s next on your travel bucket list?
HA: I would love to go to the Amalfi Coast.

HK: Who is your current design icon?
HA: Tony Chi and Yabu Pushelberg. They both fool you into thinking a detail is simple, but the process of making something look simple is complicated. 

Having worked on a variety projects, Allnatt is grateful to the company that supports him in becoming a rising star. “Without Richmond International I would not have been given these incredible opportunities to work on so many amazing projects,” he says while reflecting. “Working in collaboration with Vivienne Westwood’s team, for example, on the London West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, was an incredible experience. The aim was to merge fashion and design together, and during this project we created a feature console inspired by their prints and graphics – it was great!”

Large and spacious public area of plush suite

Image Caption: Penthouse of London West Hollywood

The sensitive designer who sits before me is a knowledgeable leader who makes the most of the opportunities that present themselves – and is, as such, a worthy name alongside 29 others who deserves to be included in Hotel Designs’ 30 Under 30.

One-third of consumers believe lighting helps to eliminate January Blues

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A study has revealed that one in three people believe that lighting is important to creating a relaxed and calm atmosphere before bed…

As the January blues well and truly set in for some, new research has revealed how lighting can have direct impact on mood and wellbeing in the hotel environment.

A survey of 1,000 UK adults carried out by lighting supplier LED Hut, as part of the Brighter Britain report, found that one in three people believe that lighting – both natural and artificial – plays a crucial role in how they feel, encouraging feelings of comfort, security, and happiness.

More than one-third (31 per cent) believe that lighting is important when creating a relaxed and calm atmosphere before going to bed in the evening, which assists with their sleep.

Furthermore, 38 per cent feel that lighting in the bedroom during the morning can also allow them to feel alert, energises and ready for the day ahead.

The survey follows the hotel industry putting more and more focus on lighting in guestrooms. Last year, leading design firms such as Richmond International identified lighting as the next area within the hotel design that will see a vast transformation because of the advancement in technology. This adds to more and more hotel operators desiring to create environments that are naturally warm and inviting.

“Considering how important natural light is to generating vitamin D, and even assisting the circadian rhythms which govern our natural sleeping patterns, the potential lighting has to improve our wellbeing in a number of ways is clear,” said Paul Garner, ecommerce and marketing director at LED Hut“While it might be obvious that natural light helps to boost our mood, not everyone knows that artificial light also plays an important role when natural light isn’t an option.”

“There are new concepts emerging everyday around LED experimental lighting.”

The possibilities around lighting design in the hotel guestroom are almost endless. There are new concepts emerging everyday around LED experimental lighting, such as the Mortiz Waldemeyer Studio’s personalised lighting installation at Focus 18, which was named the Journey Of Colour. Sensational launches like these suggest that there is some movement on how we light the hotel guestroom of the future to balance functionality, wellness and excitement in all the right places.

If you would like to have your say on this topic ahead of Hotel Designs covering it as a Spotlight On feature in March, please tweet us @HotelDesigns.

Main image credit: Pixabay

Hotels at New Heights: suites on the high seas

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To conclude our series, Hotels at New Heights, Hamish Kilburn investigates why more and more hotel designers are taking to the seas to design the luxury cruise vessels’ suites of the future…

Somewhere between Myanmar and Phuket, in the Andaman Sea, my perception of luxury cruises shifted from that of a cliché to feeling very much part of an exclusive club. In what felt like a blink of an eye on board Seabourn Sojourn, while watching an unpolluted starry sky meet the horizon, I realised that I was in my own little ‘one-off experience’ moment, which was totally unmatched by any hotel on the planet – no matter how luxurious.

In just a handful of days, our short voyage took us to four countries until we eventually arrived in the bright lights of Singapore. We docked just in time to attend the naming ceremony of Seabourn’s latest ship, the Encore. With interiors imagined by award-winning designer Adam Tihany, who is best known for working on hotel projects such as The Beverly hills Hotel, Mandarin Oriental London and Four Seasons Dubai Financial Centre, it was clear that the luxury cruise liner was daring to be different in order to cater to the growing demand for luxury travel.

Seabourn Encore/Ovation

From impeccable finishes and bespoke fittings to the hand-picked art, the Encore was the beginning of a new design direction for the Seabourn brand with a few elements remaining the same, such as the iconic hot tub positioned on the bow. Tihany’s sharp vision provided comfort and familiarity of an on-board living room. The atrium included an elliptical double-helix staircase that connects seven floors and was complete with a six-storey art installation that, again, reiterated the design inspiration of Seabourn’s effortless luxury style.

Public areas that are large with a mix of furniture

Image credit: Seabourn Ovation/Adam Tihany Studio

Ever since then, the industry has evolved and expanded as a result of travellers being prepared to go further to explore beyond just one beach, city or a destination. In 2017,  a total of 25.8 million passengers boarded cruise ships to travel, which is 4.9 million more passengers than in 2012.  With this great demand comes great responsibility. The leading luxury cruise liners as we knew it had to, with a splash of irony, charter themselves into new waters in order to seek inspirational interior designers to work on creating their up-market future fleet of ships.

“‘Experience’ has become the buzzword for the hospitality industry. Guests are no longer focused on traditional expectations but are looking for interior spaces that have been tailored to their own unique interests and aspirations,” explained Tihany when discussing how the latest design-led cruises are changing the hospitality arena. “Whether it be within the comfort of a suite or through a transformative dining experience, the changes within the cruise world bring to light a current momentum I call the Age of Design, which continues to move the dial in all areas of hospitality.”

Suite on board Seabourn Ovation with large bed and calming interiors

Image credit: Seabourn Ovation/Adam Tihany Studio

While Tihany continued to wave his interior designer wand on Seabourn’s luxurious fleet, with the launch of Ovation last year, other celebrated hotel designers were also receiving ambitious briefs in order to take luxury cruise ship design to new heights.

P&O Britannia / P&O Iona

Richmond International became the first interior design firm to be selected to help reimagine the interiors for P&O Cruises directly because of its impressive luxury hotel portfolio. Director Terry McGillicuddy was given the somewhat unusual task to design the entire interiors for the P&O Britannia vessel, which took its maiden voyage in 2015. “This opened up opportunities for a whole-ship holistic integrated design approach,” he explained. “And allowed us to integrate a consistent design thread whilst maintaining the individuality and integrity of each space.”

“Richmond loved this challenge after decades in land based hospitality design; this has become a huge part of our business.” – Terry McGillicuddy, Director, Richmond International.

Despite the firm having led interior design projects such as The Beaumont, Langham London and Sandy Lane in Barbados, the team were required to adapt their design processes in order to comply with certain marine regulations, as McGillicuddy explains: “We needed to learn the specifics to Marine Works Regulations and certifications, respecting International Safety of Life at Seas (SOLAS) rules, and a whole new ‘ship’ language.

Render from Richmond International of Balcony Cabin

Image caption/credit: Render from Richmond International of Balcony Cabin on board P&O Iona

“It was also crucial to understand the differences between the interior fit out process of the ship, which is a metal construction ‘panel’ based system throughout. We had to appreciate the limitations in terms of space constrictions and minimal ceiling heights, and design the interior around these issues.

“Due to restrictions on weight and different fire regulations, material specification was also a challenge. We looked at new suppliers and manufacturing processes, which have the approved IMO certification for marine use.

“All of these new parameters were exciting to learn whilst respecting the very tight turnaround times in the build program. Richmond loved this challenge after decades in land based hospitality design; this has become a huge part of our business.”

Following the success of P&O Britannia, Richmond International, together with interior design and architecture firm Jestico + Whiles, were awarded the opportunity to design the interiors for the new ship, Iona. Expected to launch in 2020, with the distinct aim to “bring the outside in,” Iona is expected to feel more like a large resort than a conventional cruise ship. With a glass dome roof and spacious layout throughout, the vessel will be flooded with natural light. “Guests are now expecting more state-of-the-art vessels, exclusive destinations and authentic ‘memorable’ experiences; interior design must respond to and support these demands,” said McGillicuddy. “This can result in cruise ships evolving to a more ‘resort’ like experience and the design more focused on the deployment markets or passenger origins. This can bring in local and cultural design requirements which we can leverage from our hotel heritage.”

Straddling both interior design and architecture, Jestico + Whiles, unveiled its design for a new atrium concept on board P&O Cruises’ next generation of ship, Iona. The design of the soaring triple-height Grand Atrium is described as the heart of the vessel, complete with panoramic views across ever-changing waters. “The sea becomes the focus of the triple-height space; the sinuous curves are shaped around it, framing and complementing the views to the outside, said James Dilley, Director of Jestico + Whiles. “Despite the challenge of such a large space, we have worked closely with P&O Cruises to make the Grand Atrium harmonious with the separate venues, making the space both open and intimate.”

Render courtesy of Jestico + Whiles showing the large atrium inside P&O Cruises' Iona

Image caption: Render courtesy of Jestico + Whiles showing the large atrium inside P&O Cruises’ Iona

An elegant, arcing staircase of Italian marble with a polished, filigree silver balustrade serves as the centrepiece to the space, evoking the glamour of the iconic cruise ships of the 20th century. Designed as a piece of sculptural architecture, its curving form guides guests on a journey through the decks offering changing views and perspectives of the sea and activity within, encouraging everyone to explore the variety of destinations on board.

Celebrity Edge

Following its maiden voyage on December 9 from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, all eyes seem to be focused on the Celebrity Edge cruise ship. The 1,467 staterooms, including 176 suites, on board have been designed by the award-winning luxury interior designer Kelly Hoppen. In addition to the laid-back luxurious accommodation, Hoppen also designed the Retreat Sundeck and The Retreat Lounge and Luminae, which is the suite-class restaurant.

“Celebrity Edge is definitely a ship of the future – nothing like this has ever been done in this industry before. I was so honoured to be part of something this groundbreaking and it was a challenge for me to do something that no one had ever done before,” explained Hoppen. “The craftsmanship and quality that Celebrity Cruises follows is second to none and their reputation for innovations in the industry is already renowned so it was an incredibly exciting project to work on.”

Hoppen’s stylish interiors proved so popular that they are now being rolled out across the fleet as part of a $500 million investment called the Celebrity Revolution.

Iconic Suite Cat IC - Master Bedroom - Room #12100 Deck 12 Forward Starboard Celebrity EDGE - Celebrity Cruises

Image caption: Iconic Suite Cat IC – Master Bedroom – Room #12100 Deck 12 Forward Starboard
Celebrity EDGE – Celebrity Cruises

The architect on the project, Tom Wright, whose impressive portfolio includes projects as grand as the Burj Al Arab, pushed design boundaries by unveiling the world’s first cantilevered deck on the vessel. The elevating deck, or Magic Carpet as it is being called, can move up and down the ship’s exterior with the ability to dock at four separate levels. The concept of its interiors, designed by Hoppen, transforms into many settings. When it is positioned at Deck two, for example, it becomes a luxury entrance foyer. However, when it moves to Deck 16, it becomes a high-dining experience.

Designed by architect Tom Wright, the Magic Carpet is the world's first cantilevered deck

Image credit: Designed by architect Tom Wright, the Magic Carpet is the world’s first cantilevered deck

Design studio Jouin Manku also worked on the interior spaces inside Celebrity Edge. On board, the studio imagined The Grand Plaza, which is the Main Dining Atrium as well as the connecting circulation spaces.  Designers Sanjit Manku and Patrick Jouin came to the Celebrity Edge project with a sense of excitement and wonder, and the desire to capture the magic of travelling by sea. Inspired by the glamour and adventure of the pre-war era of travel, they sought to transform this experience for the 21st century.

Meanwhile, the three-storey Eden bar and restaurant stretches across the stern of the vessel and is complete with striking spaces of dark greens, brass and palms.

Aside from the water slides, zip-wires and other sensational headline-grabbing features on board the giants of the seas, there is a larger picture. With the cruise industry now leaning on leading hotel designers to imagine their future fleets, the lanes between luxury hotel design and luxury cruise ship design are coming together. In August of last year, the cruise industry hit new records, reporting a total of 113 ships on the orderbook to be introduced between now and 2027, with Seabourn, Princess, TUI and Lindblad among them. With the demand for cruise ships at an all time high, more and more award-winning hotel designers are seeing this market as one of ample opportunity, taking international hotel design on its maiden voyage for an unforgettable journey.

Throughout this series, Hotels at New Heights, we have investigated how other luxury markets are working to design their future territories. The aim of this series has been to understand how hotel designers and architects can continue to challenge conventional design in order to help lead the hospitality market with clear innovation and thinking outside the box.

To read article one, Hotels at New Heights: Suites in the Sky, click here. To read article two, Hotels at New Heights: Rooms on rails, click here.

If you would like to collaborate on future series’ and articles that are similar to these, please tweet us @HotelDesigns

Main image credit: Celebrity Edge/Kelly Hoppen 

The Brit List 2018: Designer profiles

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In the coming weeks, Hotel Designs will be profiling the 75 finalists in the Hotel Designs Brit List 2018. This week, we continue with profiling our winning designers in alphabetical order…

This year’s The Brit List 2018 concluded on November 22, when leading designers, hoteliers and architects gathered at BEAT London to find out which of them made it on to this year’s The Brit List 2018. The hundreds of nominees and entries were whittled down by the event’s five judges, who were:

  • Gilly Craft, President of the British Institute of Interior Design
  • Charles Leon, founder of Leon Black Architecture and Interior Design
  • Gerri Gallagher, former associate editor, Tatler
  • Lysbeth Fox, founder and director of Fox PR
  • Hamish Kilburn, editor, Hotel Designs

Top Designers 2018

Constantina Tsoutsikou – Creative Director, HBA London 

Constantia Tsoutsikou is proving herself to be a leader not only as the creative director of HBA London, but also as a true visionary in the arena of
international hotel design.

Her most recent work includes The Orient in Jerusalem and this year she has spoken at a number of international trade fairs, the most recent of which was Maison Objet in Paris.

Dexter Moren – Director, Dexter Moren Associates 

Dexter Moren is the founding director of Dexter Moren Associates (DMA) and is recognised as an industry leader in the international hotel design sector. DMA is an award-winning hotel, hospitality and residential architecture & interior design firm based in London.

DMA’s most recent projects include The Curtain and Dorsett City Hotel in Aldgate. In addition to these, the firm is also working on The Westin, City of London, as well as a hotel development in Southwark.

Emma King – Head of Interior Design (Europe) IHG 

Emma King leads the InterContinental Hotels Group’s (IHG) interior design team in Europe and is responsible for the design, development and product quality of all new openings and refurbishments. King is currently leading the design of IHG’s big capital investments including InterContinental London Park Lane, InterContinental Paris Le Grand and InterContinental Berlin, but also the launch of the hotel group’s new brand voco. She is also tasked with the integration of the innovation program at IHG, and has worked on the repositioning strategy and implementation of the new generation Holiday Inn Express, Holiday Inn and the Crowne
Plaza Brands.

King and her team have been instrumental in positioning the Hotel Indigo brand with a ‘neighbourhood story’ led design for each site. No brand has been left untouched, with IHG’s long stay offering, Staybridge Suites, also being redesigned with investment potential in mind. An interior architect by training at Cardiff University and despite over 20 years’ hotel design experience, she believes that there is always more to learn.

Fiona Thompson – Principal, Richmond International 

Richmond International has designed some of the world’s most prestigious hotel designs in locations from London to Barbados. Fiona Thompson, as the Principal of the studio, is involved in all aspects of the company, and is responsible for both the projects and the day-to-day running of the company. As the recent headline speaker at Hotel Designs Meet Up North,

Thompson continues to be an influencer as the landscape of international hotel designs continues to evolve.

Frances Blackham – Design Director, Trevillion Interiors 

Having recently led her team to complete the £6 million refurbishment of the Radisson Blu Hotel Nice and the Radisson Blu Stansted airport, including new
guestrooms, restaurants and the iconic Atrium Space and Wine Tower Bar, Trevillion Interiors has proven time and time again that it is ahead of the curve of hotel interior design.

The firm’s impressive client list includes Best Western, QHotels, Radisson Blu, Royal Garden Hotel and IHG.

Imperial War Museum cake

Top 5 stories of the week: Cakes, ribbon cutting and hotel design launching at sea

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Here are the top 5 stories of the week, as selected by Hamish Kilburn, editor of Hotel Designs.

This week we collated all the ingredients for a great series of stories. We’ve had architectural cakes, new builds, significant anniversaries, drawing-board renderings of new hotels, showroom openings and even a sprinkling of an exclusive Q&A from the managing director of bathroom specialist Duravit.

It’s been a busy week, so here’s a breakdown of the major stories.

1) Winning design unveiled from WATG’s Great Architectural bake-off

The winning design, by Benoy - replicating The Barbican Centre

Image credit: WATG

Leading architects gathered last weekend for the final of WATG’s Great Architectural bake-off. Judges included Great British Bake-Off competitor; Jane Duncan OBE, the 75th RIBA president; Bethan Ryder, Digital Editor at Wallpaper*; Peter Murray.

2) Will hotel designs and Cruise ship design marry at sea? 

Under the Arch sculpture

Image credit: Zemer Peled

In an exclusive feature, editor of Hotel Designs Hamish Kilburn investigates why so many hotel designers are stretching their services to also include cruise ship design.

3) The luxury hotel experience: how to design an ultra-modern bathroom

Modern bathroom

Image credit: Unsplash

Regardless of their location, the world’s finest hotel bathrooms are designed to evoke a sensory experience. Tegan Denwood  investigates how hoteliers can simply create an ultra-modern bathroom that lives up to the growing consumer demands of guests checking in…

4) Soho House to open in Amsterdam this Summer

Rendering of Soho House Amsterdam

The 79-key Soho House Amsterdam will open in the city’s The Bungehuis building in July 2018…

5) Seven minutes with Managing Director of Duravit

Martin Carroll

As Duravit opens its new Clerkenwell showroom, the editor of Hotel Designs, Hamish Kilburn, went behind the scenes to ask the Managing Director of Duravit, Martin Carroll, ‘why here’, ‘why now’ and ‘what’s next’…

Under the Arch sculpture

Hotel design in cruise ships: will it sink or will it float?

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With more and more design firms announcing their involvement in cruise ship interior designs, Hotel Designs’ editor Hamish Kilburn dived beneath the surface to find out how conceiving a cruise ship differs from designing a luxury hotel…

“Location, location, location” is what I hear on a daily basis when asking where designers first look to for inspiration when reimagining interiors within our industry. Recently, though, we have seen an influx of leading hotel interior designers expanding their services to now include cruise ship interiors.

It’s no surprise to hear that the cruise ship industry, as a whole, is working hard to evolve its image to challenge existing perceptions, which suggests that cruising is only for older generations. Now, it’s become more popular than ever for younger people to book a cheap and cheerful cruise. Travelling to many locations throughout a holiday, passing through many cultures along the way, is very much appealing to a wider demographic of people. Much like the attitudes of guests boarding the ships, the interior design of modern cruise ships is also improving, taking much of its inspiration from the aesthetics of iconic luxury hotels worldwide.

Earlier this month, I sat down with Fiona Thompson, the Principal of Richmond International, the award-winning design firm that has recently been commissioned to reimagine a P&O cruise liner. Without the luxury of a fixed location, Thompson and her team have taken a lot of her inspiration from the sea, very much making it the star of the ship. “This includes making windows much larger and the relationship between inside and outside becoming more important,” Thompson explained.

One of the most obvious challenges when redesigning cruise ship interiors is consumer behaviour.  Unlike hotels, passengers on board cruise ships don’t have the luxury to leave when they want. Therefore, the interiors in a ship really must capture the attention of every guest. “Cruise ships are trying to break away from that naff Vegas style. Our job is to turn these ships into places that are more upscale and thought provoking,” Thompson added.

The less-obvious challenge when working in a cruise ship environment are the low ceilings, which interestingly tend to feature above large spaces. “You have to play all sorts of games as to how to make those spaces feel comfortable and airy,” said Thompson. “A great way to do that is through lighting.”

Interiors of Seabourn ship

Image credit: Assaf Pinchuk

Outside of the design planning, many leading suppliers, who are featured heavily in international hotel design, are also being used more and more in cruise ships. Art curation consultancy ArtLink has recently announced it curated more than 1,600 artworks for the new Seabourn cruise ship, The Ovation. Known for being a high-end stylish cruise company, Seabourn’s design brief was to weave together Seabourn’s brand in a contemporary way with the interior designer, Adam Tihany’s vision. “We believe in telling stories through art, and there is arguably nowhere more suited to this emotional and intellectual adventure than a cruise ship,” says ArtLink’s founder, Tal Danai. “Guests are travelling slowly, confined within the experience of the vessel and full of anticipation about the destination they will eventually discover. They have the time to re-visit the art as they journey and to allow it to release one story at a time.”

The company, which has completed more than 130 hospitality projects worldwide, pulled together the talents of nearly 120 artists from across five continents to achieve a multi-layered collection intended to reveal new discoveries little-by-little to guests as they travel the oceans.

Going one step further, last week Hotel Designs broke the news that iconic Ritz-Carlton brand has opened reservations for The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, set to take the seas in February 2020. This will mean that the Ritz-Carlton will be first hotel brand to take its service and ambiance of its resorts to the sea.

The cruise ship industry is honing in some of the industry’s finest designers and manufacturers in order to somewhat replicate modern hotels from around the globe. This very obvious movement is a further example of how clever collaborations can help evolve and transform a whole market.

If you have an opinion on this topic, please tweet us at @hoteldesigns

Fiona Thompson will be the headline speaker of next month’s Meet Up North. Taking place on July 18 at Manchester’s trendy King Street Townhouse, the evening networking event is a bridge between hoteliers, designers, architects, procurement companies and suppliers. Head over to the Meet Up North tab to secure your place.

Top 5 stories of the week: New swanky brand, a futuristic opening in China and a floating hotel

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It’s been a busy week for the industry, with plenty of news in the air to digest. This week Hotel Designs has seen the launch of a new upscale hotel brand, new openings from around the world and we are one step closer to the first hotel brand launching on water.

Here are the top five hotel stories of the week, as selected by editor Hamish Kilburn:

1. IHG launches voco, a new upscale hotel brand

coffee and voco menu

At an exclusive press event in London’s Saatchi Gallery, our editor learnt all about the new hotel brand, voco. We broke this story to the world on Tuesday morning, and have since watched it soar the charts to become this week’s most read article. Read all about how the brand is planning on launching to be ‘reliably different’…

2. New London hotel restaurant: Hans’ Bar & Grill unveiled at 11 Cadogan Gardens 

Hans’ Bar & Grill, a new west London neighbourhood restaurant in Chelsea’s Pavilion Road, has opened. The new striking and contemporary interiors scheme, created by leading hospitality and F&B designers Goddard Littlefair, includes an exciting new extended café-bar space and a new restaurant, which plays on the concept of indoor-outdoor dining…

3. Seven minutes with Fiona Thompson, Principal of Richmond International

We last spoke to Fiona Thompson in 2014, when she and her team had just completed the quintessentially British Sterling Suite and Club Lounge at The Langham London. Having just agreed to be our headline speaker at Meet Up North on July 18, we wanted to know how the industry is shaping up from a leader’s point of view…

4. Zaha Hadid Architects unveils new flagship hotel for the City of Dreams resort in Macau

Image credit: Virgile Simon Bertrand

From one design visionary design house to another, award-winning architecture firm Zaha Hadid Architects designed the futuristic Morpheus as a simple extrusion of the existing abandoned foundations…

5. The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection opens reservations to the public 

Rendering of the yacht

Claiming to be the first luxury hotel group to take its service and ambiance of its resorts to the sea, The Ritz-Carlton, L.L.C. has announced the opening of reservations for The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection. The yacht will also feature two 158 square-meter lavish Owner’s suites, each with its own private whirlpool, modern craftsmanship and interior finishes jointly designed by The Ritz-Carlton and leading design firm Tillberg Design of Sweden.

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Hotel Designs confirms Principal of Richmond International as speaker for Meet Up North

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Hotel Designs, which is set to take HD Meet Up brand to Manchester this July, has just confirmed Principal of Richmond International, Fiona Thompson, as the headline speaker for the evening…

Hotel Designs has confirmed that Principal of Richmond International, Fiona Thompson, will be the headline speaker at Meet Up North.

Taking place on July 18 at Manchester’s trendy King Street Townhouse, the evening networking event is a bridge between designers, architects, procurement companies and suppliers. Thompson, known in the hotel design industry for working on projects such as The Langham London, Sandy Lane in Barbados and Four Seasons Ten Trinity Square, will speak about past projects and the value of collaboration.

Speaking ahead of the networking event, Thompson said: “Only through a thoughtful collaborative process, which acknowledges individual skills, talents and perspectives, can a project be successfully completed. Richmond International is extremely excited to take part in Meet Up North, an event which honours the significance of professional collaboration, and in turn reflect on the successful partnerships Richmond International has had the pleasure of being part of over the past 51 years.”

“I am delighted to confirm this news that such an established visionary within our industry will be the headline speaker at Meet Up North,” said editor of Hotel Designs Hamish Kilburn. “I’m always fascinated when speaking to Fiona as I believe she has such a natural warmth about her when describing past, present and future projects. She is so ‘in the know’ when it comes to all topics within hotel design and, considering how in-demand she is, we are very grateful that she will join us in Manchester next month.”

Full event details, including start time and location, can be found here.

Our headline partner for this event is Marca Corona whom we announced last month. If you are a supplier to the hotel industry and are interested in attending/supporting this Meet Up please contact Jennie Lane now to find out how you can get involved.

The Hotel Designs summer Meet Up is completely free for hoteliers, interior designers and architects; click here to confirm your attendance.