Hotel design sets the trends

Hotel design sets the trends

Do you still remember when hotels were just very boring caves in which we were condemned to live for a day or two?

We designed vandal-proof cabins/wet rooms with an infrared barn heater on the ceiling and a telephone and an ashtray next to the toilet. Carpets in the bedroom were designed to hide coffee stains and the curtains served a double purpose as the perfect solution for guests to clean their shoes.

It?s hard to believe that these functional spaces have not only evolved into lifestyle properties but are even seen as a launching pad for the latest trends! How did this happen, and why is this so? The reason is that hoteliers discovered that they are building and operating hotels for guests – not for the comfort of the cleaning staff.

Morgans 1983 with Putman?s signature checkerboard pattern

Morgans updated by Putman in 2008

The pioneers of lifestyle properties such as Ian Schrager, who collaborated initially in 1983 with Andr?e Putman to originate the first boutique hotel, Morgans and then subsequently in 1988 with Philippe Starck to create the Royalton Hotel, discovered that stylish hotels attract guests and publicity. Although not everything was successful, a new direction in design was born and a substitution for outdated, traditional (i.e. ?no-risk?) hotels was found.

Royalton 1988 designed by Starck

Nowadays the idea that hotel design generates lifestyle trends makes sense. Any other form of interior design is quite specifically created for either one person or target market; for one example, to reflect the taste of a distinctly defined clientele within a retail shop or, for another example, to express a brand philosophy at an exhibition stand.

But a hotel will always need to attract guests 365 days a year and for much longer than just one season! They are created with the purpose of being used by a diverse range of personalities and ages for a variety of events. Therefore, the design must have a broader appeal in order to attract a majority of people and potential guests. Yet at the same time, these guests expect a special experience, one which they ordinarily would not have at home.

So the result is that a hotel?s design inspires trends for ?everybody.? This might sound weak since by the time a hotel opens, artists and designers are sometimes already further along with ?tuning in? contemporary preferences, but indeed, it remains a venue where the public can experience mainstream lifestyle trends.

But then, of course, designers must envision these properties two years before the hotel opens its doors ? and the style must still be acceptable in five years time!

While for the most part today?s guests want a ?design? experience, I believe that the range of possible hotel environments could be much wider in the future, with a ?lifestyle theme? being just one of the options. In general, though, hotels which have a design theme will continue to deliver the uniqueexperience craved by guests.