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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

Minimalist luxury guestroom inside the Marriott hotel on Grosvenor Square

In pictures // London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square completes renovation

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
In pictures // London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square completes renovation

Hospitality interior design firm RPW Design has completed a renovation to transform the Mayfair hotel’s guestrooms and suites…

London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square has revealed its newly refurbished guestrooms and suites 

Minimalist luxury guestroom inside the Marriott hotel on Grosvenor Square

Situated in the heart of Mayfair, the 237 guestrooms and suites, complete with alfresco terraces and private gardens, have been carefully renovated to honour the elegant architecture in which they reside. Having worked with Marriott Hotels across Europe, RPW have designed the rooms and suites to be inspiring, contemporary spaces with a residential feel, offering guests a ‘home-away-from-home’ comfort.

“We are delighted to unveil the results of this exciting collaboration between RPW Design and London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square,” explained Elizabeth Lane, a Partner at RPW Design who was at the helm of the project. “As a significant property in the centre of Mayfair, we wanted our new design to emulate the hotel’s historic setting with traditional feel, whilst simultaneously creating a welcoming and stylish space that provides access to the whole city.”

The refurbished guestrooms and suites adopt a neutral colour palette featuring rich navy blues and crisp whites complemented with grey accents in varying textures and finishes. Each guestroom and suite offers a stylish desk in a modern room setting for guests to work in and inspire brilliance. In the bathrooms, guests will admire innovative design details, spacious overhead rain showers and contemporary vanity units.

Marble looking bathroom

Image credit: RPW Design/Marriott International

RPW Design’s inspiration for the refurbishment was drawn from the local, historic area with subtle nods to Mayfair’s heritage and architecture throughout. Design details such as the herringbone pattern in the wallpaper and upholsteries pay homage to the famous Savile Row and Bond Street tailors; and the ironwork detailing woven into the carpets and rugs is reminiscent of the surrounding quintessential Georgian architecture.

> Elizabeth Lane is one of our Brit List Designers of 2020. Since you’re here, why not check out The Brit List 2020.

Ian Pask, General Manager of London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square commented: “The refurbishment perfectly captures the elegance of the building and the surrounding Mayfair area. The transformation captures a classic yet contemporary British style, while offering a spacious retreat for guests to relax, work and be inspired in.”

London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square promises an ideal setting for couples looking to be based in the heart of London whilst having the luxury of a private space to retreat to. Boasting eight balcony suites with private alfresco terraces, guests can enjoy exclusive access to the hotel’s hidden courtyard garden. The garden, a tranquil haven, possesses a central water feature where guests can step back from the glamour of Mayfair for a reflective moment.

Main image credit: RPW Design/Marriott International

RPW Design completes the Budapest Marriott Hotel

800 549 Hamish Kilburn

RPW Design, which was on last year’s prestigious Brit List, has completed the first phase of the renovation of the 363-key hotel in Budapest…

Design firm RPW Design has completed its first phase of renovation works at the Budapest Marriott Hotel, refurbishing 363 rooms, with the final renovation of the presidential suite scheduled for next year. The new rooms were opened to the public on 28th May, unveiling outstanding, spacious guestrooms that have been transformed by RPW Design into the seminal destination for Budapest visitors and business travellers, redefining the guest experience.

The work involved replacement of the entire interior of the rooms, including lavish wall coverings, new wooden flooring, all new lighting and luxurious Italian furniture. The pièce de resistance in the rooms is a chic window bench with breath-taking, availing the unobstructed overlooks to Buda Castle, Gellért Hill and the Danube below from all rooms; views unmatched in neighbouring waterfront properties.

“We are delighted to have undertaken this exciting refurbishment project which has already received such a positive response from hotel guests,” said Ariane Steinbeck, Managing Director at RPW Design. “The renovated rooms and suites reflect RPW Design’s thorough understanding of the modern traveller and our own, sophisticated, chic style – highlighting the views of the wonderful city of Budapest.”

RPW Design have introduced open wardrobes, clean hardwood floors, a handy ledge (optimized for laptops and doubling as a desk) and new beds that invite guests to linger. Bed runners have been omitted opting for a more ‘minimalist’ style, choosing soft bedlinen decorated with elegant cushions. A sleek blackout window shade in lieu of curtains can be operated from the bedside, thereby optimising the views and natural light.

Harmony has been created in each room through the beautiful blend of pastel shades on the walls and sheers, paired with the vibrant colours of the decorations. The design story was inspired by the building’s Bauhaus-influenced architecture conceived by noted Hungarian Architect, József Finta, and the grandfather of the Op-Art movement, French-Hungarian artist Victor Vasarely. The increased natural light in every room brings the entire setting alive, purposefully illuminating the background of the spectacular city view.

Taking into account the importance of environmental matters, recycling bins have been placed into each guestroom as a crucial step towards ‘green’ operation of the hotel. New technical devices, IPTVs and phones have been installed, and soon smartphones will be used to control the bedroom doors in line with RPW’s new modern interior design.

Despite the current state of the Hungarian construction industry, this prestigious refurbishment project was carried out continuously without disruption to hotel operations and was implemented within a very tight time frame. RPW Design was aided by The Meran Team, based in Spain, under the leadership of the efficient Sara Tolnai-a local Hungarian who adeptly managed the FFE procurement process and the general contractor, KÉSZ Építő és Szerelő Inc. The total room refurbishment of all 364 rooms and suites was completed in less than 4 months, following 18 months of intricate planning. Next to open will be the Executive Lounge – in September of this year. The final phase of renewal works by RPW Design will be complete in 2019, when the Presidential Suite will be open for guests to coincide with the property’s 50th Anniversary.

Crowne Plaza London Albert Embankment – opening confirmed for June 2018

1024 683 Katy Phillips

Created by ADS Design and RPW Design, it will be the first luxury hotel to open in the Albert Embankment area.

Crown Plaza has confirmed that its Albert Embankment hotel will open in May, smack bang in the middle of London’s latest area of regeneration, which is also home to the new US Embassy and high profile residential developments such as Battersea Power Station and Embassy Gardens.

The hotel is being opened as part of a new brand platform from Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resort that launched earlier in 2017 called ‘We’re All Business, Mostly’. The company says the $200 million brand investment shows its commitment to ‘remain at the forefront of the new way of doing business with design-led, culturally-relevant and technology-enabled solutions’.

Located on the South Bank of the Thames and created by ADS Design and RPW Design, the hotel offers views over the river, including the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye. Its team is headed by General Manager Fabio Gallo, who has led a number of openings prior to Albert Embankment.

The jewel of the crown will be a chic sky terrace on the 14th floor, with panoramic views of the Thames and capacity for over 70 guests. A stand-alone destination, with space for alfresco dining and an International food concept, the design will see a mix of blue hues along with copper and metallic tones. There will be open fires, floor to ceiling glass, wine and spirits collections, a shisha and cigar terrace and soft seating.

In keeping with the US Embassy neighbour, the hotel will offer an American lobby bar and restaurant, with capacity for over 70 guests. A bar will also stand at the centre of the room.

There are 142 bedrooms, including six suites, many with unobstructed city and river views, via floor-to-ceiling windows. The colour scheme marries muted tones with maroon and rust hues, and what’s described as a clean, comfortable design. All of the rooms and suites are equipped with contemporary amenities, including Nespresso Machines and mini-bars.

Fabio Gallo, General Manager, said: “We are thrilled to be leading the way as part of Crowne Plaza’s pioneering new concept, offering a premium and innovative service for the modern business traveller.

“Essential to delivering this personalised experience are the people, behind it. We have carefully curated a team of talented individuals, all experts from across the service and hospitality industry, whose passion and dedication for service delivery, is key to driving our success.”

“We understand that in a City that’s ‘always on’ we need to provide a hub where guests can work efficiently and comfortably, whilst simultaneously offering a vibrant space to relax, enjoy and revive at the end of the day. Crowne Plaza London Albert Embankment is at the very heart of this mind-set.”

RPW Design - Fairmont St. Andrews Restaurant

RPW Design unveils latest 2016 project: Fairmont St Andrews

1000 570 Daniel Fountain

RPW Design has announced the extensive refurbishment of the five-star resort, Fairmont St Andrews, which has been designed over the last year. The highly anticipated refurbishment will feature a complete redesign of the Atrium, incorporating a bespoke 60m long ceiling sculpture by award winning artist George Singer, a new restaurant and a refurb of the Kittock’s Bar.

RPW Design will also extend their signature touch to the hotel’s suites and bedrooms, showcasing the deep rooted connection between the history of St Andrews and the exterior landscape, seamlessly relating the interiors to the surroundings. This sophisticated transformation will see all public areas completed by July 2016, while bedrooms and suites will be completed by May 2017.

Reception Lobby
A pair of contemporary velvet wall hangings, inspired by the varying landscape of St Andrews in a painterly manner have been developed and printed by Timorous Beasties, the avant-garde Scottish artistic fabric and textile designers. These have been installed in the double heighted reception space to give a sense of locality and authenticity as soon as guests enter the hotel.

RPW Design - Fairmont St. Andrews Reception

Upholstery fabrics and leathers have been selected from revered Scottish companies such as Andrew Muirhead and Bute Fabrics. Bute, based on the Isle of Bute off west coast of Scotland are providing a number of richly textured fabrics in the scheme influenced by the islands scenery. The company and the island share a unique family history as the 5th Marquess of Bute set up the company in 1947 to provide employment for returning servicemen and servicewomen. The Bute family has been inextricably linked with the island and its development ever since.

The Atrium
George Singer’s outstanding artwork ‘Zephyr’ is an organic, swirling ceiling sculpture sweeping through the atrium, imitating the movement of the water in the North Sea. The sculpture will create a focal point to the room and encourage an intimate atmosphere in this dramatic space.

According to George Singer: “Zephyr is designed to reflect the crashing waves, the flocks of starlings, the long wind-blown grasses, the spring blossom, the shoals of fish, the rolling hills, the clouds and the sheer energy, beauty, and dynamism of the east coast of Scotland.”

RPW Design - Fairmont St. Andrews Atrium

A natural colour palette, layered earthy textures and an eclectic furniture collection will create a relaxed, inviting atmosphere in the lounge as well as linking the interior with the views of the coastal landscape beyond the full height window at the north end of the Atrium.

Following through into the restaurant, dramatic lighting and refined materials with a colour scheme of pine and sage greens and hints of golds create a sense of quality throughout the space. Soft velvet wall drapes and bespoke screens reflecting the ripples in the sand dunes soften the architecture of the space and give a sense of intimacy.

The Bar
“RPW Design has drawn on a rich colour scheme with nautical elements that create a warm atmosphere for drinking and dining. A revised layout opens up the space to the lobby and a new copper coffee counter links the reception to the bar area”, explains Heather McLellan, Senior Designer for the project.

A carpet design based on the markings found in the nearby River Tay estuaries, along with the use of materials such as timber, copper and rope strengthen the connection between the interior design and history of St Andrews and its surrounding old fishing villages.

RPW Design - Fairmont St. Andrews Bar

The theme of Scottish suppliers follows through to the bar area where bespoke pendants from Edinburgh lighting manufacturers, RS Robertson create a feature to the space. Elizabeth Lane, Director of Projects RPW Design, said: “It is a wonderful opportunity to be part of the revival of this hotel property which simply has a breath-taking location which we have made a focal point in the renovation. We are extremely happy to be working with Kennedy Wilson and Fairmont Hotels & Resorts on this project.”