High-tech design

High-tech design

Although I know that sometimes M+E (mechanical+engineering) consultants can be seen as “enemies” on a project’s site, I also know I have to consider that sometimes there is a need for “better” technical solutions.

We usually struggle to find arguments as to why it is so important for our design to have a higher ceiling — exactly in the position where our colleagues have planned for huge ducts to cross in the suspended ceiling — as well as justifications as to why an energy-saving radiator should not be situated right in front of a French balcony. The worst thing is that yes, the practical, energy-saving fluorescent lamps that our technical consultants really love actually do emit light, but they certainly cannot create a “designed” lighting atmosphere.

So of course there are lots of debates between the M+E professionals and the interior designers, and, I have to admit, there probably is also a lot of misunderstanding between the diametrically opposed opinions.

As a designer, I generally expect that our job is to do all the nice things in order to create an ambiance that will sell the hotel while all the technical elements are invisible — they just have to function.

On the other hand, our colleagues strongly believe that if the technical elements are not right, the hotel will never sell a single bed. Therefore they expect to be able to use up lots of space with all the plant, ducts, switch boxes and control rooms — and they need access panels everywhere, especially in places where we don’t want them to be! They believe that hotel guests and operators think and feel the same way they do, that each space should be a command room with big master displays from which one can control everything. Ideally the guest should be able to check his car tires’ air pressure (parked in the property’s garage) from his bed.

But as designers, we don’t want to see anything (except maybe a docking station for an iPod).

Yet sometimes even a designer makes a remarkable discovery, as I did in a 4-5-star hotel in Mallorca, Spain, where a collaboration between designers and M+E consultants certainly would have improved the result!