Expert panel discuss designing a hotel for the modern traveller
A group of industry experts gathered on 20 October 2015 at the Innovation Stage at the 2015 Independent Hotel Show to discuss how to design hotel environments for the modern traveller.
Sally Storey from Lighting Design International, James Waterworth from Soho House Group, Michael Kiolbassa from Hansgrohe and Fiona Thompson from Richmond made up the discussion panel with travel editor of House & Garden, Pamella Goodman, chairing.
Goodman began by asking the panel how they feel hotel design has changed. Thompson explained how she has seen a noticeable move away from corporate design. Today’s hotels are more geared towards location, character and all together are less formal. Waterworth agreed and added that many hotels strive to create the home-away-from-home experience for its guests. “From a lighting perspective, things have got a lot simpler and the complexity of lighting is more subtle.” mentioned Lighting expert Storey.
Goodman put forward the topic of style, asking the panel how important it is to keep on track with the latest trends. The response was synonymous. Storey said, “You have to look at what’s appropriate and essential. Changing the mood for common areas is an interesting concept. [For me] it’s the individual touches.” Kiolbassa added, “Design for the sake of design is not a thing anymore.” Thompson sees the hotel’s skeleton as a fixed position in the property. “You can deal with trends without changing the [hotel’s] skeleton. Waterworth explained how good architecture will allow for subtle yet sophisticated changes. He mentioned, “Ergonomics and movement of space is very significant in hotel design. He also explained how you can transform the feel of a space with subtle modifications. “We use a lot of local artists in our hotels. It is a great way to keep the hotel’s location key to its charm.”
Moving on, Goodman asked the panel if they had any top tips for the audience when it comes to budget constraints. Klolbassa explained, “it is better to spend money first in order to save money later.” Waterworth agreed and mentioned that planning ahead can save time (and money) later down the line.
The popular debate sparked much interest from the audience and questions followed. The panel identified the basic principles of hotel design and gave the audience an insight into their thought process when confronted with designing a modern hotel for modern travellers.