JOI-DESIGN PETER JOEHNK & CORINNA KRETSCHMAR-JOEHNK
Co-Managing Directors Peter Joehnk and Corinna Kretschmar-Joehnk of JOI-Design speak to Can Faik about current projects, the newly renovated Reichshof Hamburg – Europe’s first Curio Collection by Hilton, and what’s next for their highly established design studio…
JOI-Design was founded in Hamburg, Germany, in 1984 by Peter Joehnk, who, alongside Corinna Kretschmar-Joehnk, has cultivated the team into one of Europe’s leading design studios bringing luxurious hospitality destinations to life around the globe. Guided by the principle of translating emotions into design, and design into interiors rich with ambience, they create places that guests continuously seek-out, love, and return to time and again. JOI-Design shapes award-winning atmospheres for the world’s top brands as well as independent properties, and has a varied portfolio of sophisticated modern destinations, grand historic establishments, vibrant restaurants, sumptuous spas, and new-build airport and business hotels. In 2014, they were honoured with one of the industry’s highest accolades, a Gold Key Award, for their design of the Hotel-Kompetenz-Zentrum, or centre for hotel design excellence, near Munich. The successful duo has authored hospitality design reference books and recently launched Products by JOI-Design, their product design division exploring creative partnerships with furniture, lighting, carpeting and wallcovering manufacturers.
What are some of JOI-Design’s current and recent projects, and have any presented challenges?
Our project list is always varied and interesting and never more so than now. We are designing for large international brands and one-off boutique properties; both budget and luxury hotels; refurbishments and new-builds – so a bit of everything! A current project that we are especially excited about is the Hotel Am Fischmarkt in the warehouse district of a small village along the Rhine River, a comfortable, loft-style boutique hotel and restaurant formed from five listed houses plus a new addition. In Switzerland, we are designing a Hyatt Place for The Circle, the noteworthy mixed-use development being constructed at Zurich Airport. Our contemporary design explores dynamic mobility in contrast with relaxation and well-being, with brand adaptions for the European marketplace. And then we’ve just completed the newly opened Capri by Fraser in Frankfurt, a young spirited, extended-stay brand conceived specifically for 24/7 lifestyles (we are also working on one in Berlin), as well as the legendary grand dame Hotel Reichshof Hamburg, the first and benchmark property in Europe for Curio – A Collection by Hilton. The Reichshof has been a celebrated landmark in the heart of city ever since its 1910 inception, with further works carried out the following decade to form a beautiful hybrid of Empire and Art Deco styles. Over the years this listed building had grown tired though and presented some interesting challenges as we completely renovated the interior architecture of the public spaces and guestrooms to modernise the infrastructure to international standards whilst preserving the heritage details. The room count was reduced in order to create more spacious footprints, which necessitated a major reconfiguration of the layout, the repositioning of partition walls between bedrooms and bathrooms, new vertical shafts, and creative solutions to channel waste water from guestrooms through the building’s protected areas and out to the public sewerage system. Also, many ceilings had virtually rotted away over time or had been reconstructed from old doors following wartime damage, so these needed to be replaced. Then, just two months before the opening, the structural engineer discovered that the new kitchen equipment was heavier than the old equipment meaning there was a risk that the floor could collapse – so the noise of jackhammers and concrete being poured for the new kitchen floor coincided with the public areas being styled, artwork being hung, and the curtains going up!
What particular trends have you noticed in hotel interior design?
For quite a long time now there’s been a reciprocal influence between hotel and residential interiors. This has spread to the transformation of hotel lobbies into open-plan, multifunctional spaces for socialising, relaxation, and dining, as well as informal business centres for casual meetings with work stations at long communal tables with office chairs. This blurring of boundaries is extending to other industries too – we’ve been approached several times by commercial investors who want to create similar areas for office environments. This increasing convergence of people’s work, social and private lives has resulted in the desire for flexible spaces that accommodate the different activities of daily life. Our design of the new Capri by Fraser in Frankfurt is a good example of this, as it offers this flexible functionality in both the guestrooms and public areas.
What would be your dream hotel project?
In a purely imaginative stratosphere, we would love to design the first hotel on the moon – or at least in a space shuttle! But as a more down-to-earth aspiration, creating a luxurious, cutting-edge hotel in one of the world’s iconic cities (London, Paris, New York) would also be a dream come true.
How has hotel design changed and what do you think is next for the industry?
The functionality and ambience of front-of-house areas has moved ahead with the times but actual design styles have been less progressive, often borrowing from informal social spaces such as coffee shops, student canteens or clubs. Many new hotel interior concepts continue to rehash the past, such as ‘shabby chic’, mid-century design, “grandma´s Gemütlichkeit” – or a mixture of these styles. We think that a completely new aesthetic will soon emerge that is a natural expression of our time and the way our lives are changing. It could combine the different approaches of work space, residential design and hotel lobbies and really embrace new digital technologies such as 3D design – it will be interesting to see how this develops over the coming years!
What’s next for JOI-Design?
Our observation of the cruise ship industry suggests that it is some way behind the development curve seen in the hotel sector in recent years, so we believe this market is going to experience a lot of growth and evolution in terms of design. In general, cruise ship interiors tend to be either quite traditional or themed party spaces – in any case, far removed from the sophisticated wellbeing of a resort’s design. This is an area in which we would love to work.
Recently launched is Products by JOI-Design, our product design division that explores creative partnerships with furniture, lighting, carpeting and wallpaper manufacturers. This has been great fun and is a venture we are excited to develop further.
We have many advantages as a German design studio in continental Europe. Hotel brands from outside Europe and even from the UK are looking for international designers who understand how Central Europe ticks in order to develop their business in this region, and JOI-Design is in the unique position of being able to offer the relevant expertise and knowledge – so we see lots more potential here!