The objective designer

The objective designer

As designers, we are very often asked about our personal style and our preferences for design trends, but should these dimensions extend into professional hotel design? My view is clearly, ?NO!?


Although my private living room might be designed for my own tastes (although even there, this is not completely the case because I have an emancipated wife and we still want our friends to enjoy coming to our house), the d?cor of the hotel rooms I work on shouldn?t necessarily follow my personal preferences ? although of course it is still important that they have some sort of style.


Design trends might be interesting for the moment, but since a hotel room will be around for 10 years, there use should be carefully considered – a hip look that is ?in? right now might be ?out? in one year?s time, and then for the next nine years remain a problem for the investor and the operator.


My personal view of design ? especially of hotel design ? is that we need to remain objective business professionals. We must have the ability to see design from an abstract point of view, apart from trends and personal taste.


If an advertising agency creates the same publicity campaign for surgical stockings as it did for music downloads, then it is either crazy or just not professional. But often in design, many people expect designers to be a kind of artist ? completely free from down-to-earth needs and functions ? who always reproduce their personal styles.


For us it would be a dream! No more research, no alternatives, no thinking about others ? we could just be ourselves. But the reality is that we get paid for our job, and this job is to create successful hotels. No doubt there are some designers in the world who have developed a personal style (very few in my eyes – only Philippe Starck and Karim Rashid), and it is because of these specific traits and their ability to be a marketing tool that the investor would pick the ?star? to create a hotel scheme. In this case, the hotel guests need to subordinate themselves to the star?s personal taste – which can really impose a defined target market for potential guests. However this is usually not a problem since there are plenty of alternatives to staying at a particular property. And within that target audience and the designer?s fan club, the hotel might become very famous – even popular and successful.


But then all branded hotels should have corporate identity standards with targeted groups of guests and a promise of certain standards – which then need to be incorporated into a design concept that considers the location and the competitive environment. 


We create concepts along these guidelines. For example, one recent project was based on a futuristic design scheme, while another conveyed the sense of an authentic Viennese palace. Each project is an example of the right design for its locale and its guests.

Both schemes are very successful yet their styles are as different as can be, and both concepts are applied stringently throughout the hotel. At the same time, both designs have been done at the same time, by the same designer.