One collaboration, many returns

This week’s trend report was inspired almost a year ago, and 11 months later, it still strikes a chord.

The good news: Ikea announced plans to open a budget hotel chain via collaboration with Marriott International, Moxy. It’s important to note that more often than not, a person who walks by an Ikea showroom will experience the desire to walk out with the exact same setup displayed in one of Ikea’s famous vignettes, so the news put me into an instant state of intrigue. 

The not-so-good news: I learned the partnership — which would cleverly target a youthful and frugal clientele, which aligns so perfectly with Ikea’s philosophy of “high-end appearances on a low-end budget” — would not include guestroom furnishings from Ikea. That’s right. Guests would not be sleeping on a simple Sultan (Ikea-speak for mattress), nor would they be snoring into a Gosa pillow or watching TV while rocking in a Poang chair! Utter confusion to say the least!

Maybe it’s the business I’m in pairing brands with chains, but it seems nearly everyone wants to get into the hotel business these days to grace guests with names, labels, brands or products they are known for. As a major supporter of brand collaborations, I am sold on the fact that the right pairings can supercharge innovation. Brand partnerships can breed new life, reinvent and energize a property or space as well as the overall perception a guest has of you.

Several of the world’s most successful companies have benefited from joint projects. H&M gained huge sales by leveraging two brands that brought together a mass market with incredibly high-end designers while both the retailer and designer reached a wider consumer base. And let’s not forget the Isaac Mizrahi and Target partnership all the way back in 2002, which made the once-unaffordable designer name available to the rest of us.

Other collaborations haven’t been as obvious but are still powerful. In the beverage world, Coca-Cola created a winner with special-edition bottles graphically designed with tributes to Karl Lagerfeld, Marc Jacobs and Jean Paul Gaultier. 

Heineken partnered with a Japanese denim brand, Neighborhood, and released an exclusive pair of jeans that cleverly featured Heineken green cross-stitching and a green leather label.

Maybe it’s the business I’m in, but today it seems nearly everyone wants to get into the hotel business! Several world-renowned brands have hopped into bed with hotels. Missoni lent its trademark zigzag pattern to the poolside cabanas at the Four Seasons Maui as well as select walls, furniture and even a chandelier. Luxury beauty brand Guerlain-sponsored spas can be found at Waldorf Astoria while the landmark Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong partnered with Marc Jacobs to offer an exclusive high tea inspired by the designer’s Lindy bag color, print and texture. The Trump SoHo partnered with Random House to provide pre-loaded Kindle devices.

Even philanthropy can be driven through the right partnership, which was the case when The Peninsula Hotels lit up their exteriors in pink and added a Pink High Tea including the sale of pink ribbons to participate in breast cancer awareness.

I am certain there are those who believe collaborations are tired, but no matter why or how collaborations originate, one thing is certain: most are born out of mutual admiration, which allows each entity to seek new audiences. And even though I was disappointed and believe Ikea and Marriott have missed the mark by not factoring in a few of Ikea’s legendary staples into their collaboration, I am confident there are many more press-worthy partnerships slated for hospitality.

What collaborations have recently caught your eye?