AN INSIGHT INTO GUESTROOM DESIGN with Rick Evans, President of Samuel Lawrence Hospitality (SLH)
SLH is internationally renowned for their custom-produced case goods and seating, and therefore have a range of experience when deciding what’s important when designing a hotel guestroom. Tonje Odegard had a chat with President Rick Evans to get further insight…
At the end of the day, the guestroom of a hotel is potentially the most important area of a hotel. Therefore, what should be considered in order to design the very best guestroom?
Designing the best guestroom is in the eye of the beholder. One should begin and end with the guest. Today’s guest is looking for an experience not a product – and an experience that is unique at that. Today’s designers are fantastic at building these original experiences, so our role is to implement their designs with the best materials and construction that makes it functional and memorable. We form a team of project managers and product developers around each project.
What role does the bed play in making a great guestroom?
The bed is the largest item in the room and guests spend more time with it and the TV than any other item. Today’s design impact on the bed includes art and accent lighting, and new and interesting material has helped make the bed into a feature piece in many rooms.
Hotel room design has the potential of becoming repetitive and generic. What is needed in order to make it stand out, design-wise?
The secret to standing out begins with selecting a design firm that shows a portfolio of diverse design stories for each of their projects. They will guide you through the process of creating a unique room for your property. We are seeing an explosion of new materials ranging from metal, stone, glass and natural materials, to re-used and recycled materials. The eclectic
combination of these makes the room alive, yet comforting.
How has guestroom design evolved over the past decades?
We have seen the guestroom go from a strictly function focus 20 years ago to a comprehensive experience today. A few decades ago, having the TV inside an armoire was the main focus, when the flat-screen appeared, the armoire went away and the headboard became the focus. The next trend was around evolving the bathroom space with light, stone and updated
fixtures. Today, we are positioning the room around the guest lounging
experience. The way we work on iPads, phones and laptops has changed the way the guest uses a desk area, how they use portable tables and how they use seating.
How has the introduction of technology affected guestroom design?
Guests want easy access to power for reaching different types of technology. Where you put the recharging stations into headboards, desk and cabinets has become increasingly important. Keeping in mind that technology is changing fast, outlets built into furniture could be obsolete next year. The TV area has also become a design element, especially by surrounding it with low-profile cabinetry. SLH has developed ways of making the
headboard and TV furniture easier to install and incorporate into electrical fittings and lighting solutions.
Are there any particular design trends in guestroom design you’re seeing today?
Yes, there is a movement towards metal accent pieces and incorporating metal into wood cabinetry. We’re also seeing some very attractive new quartz materials that present natural textures and details with maximum durability. Art and lighting in the headboard and above are making definitive statements in today’s rooms. Furthermore, wardrobes are now incorporating dressers, minibars and lighting.
SLH is fortunate to work with designers around the world on today’s designs and for future designs. Going forward, you will see rooms that open up the floor space more and use clean lines to present the design story. Finish colours and textures in the future will continue to follow neutral tones in the soft grey and walnut. Our international footprint enables us to locate the best materials and find the hard ones for these projects. Last quarter we implemented 25 custom hotels with our bespoke and original design.