When does differentiation become the norm?

While the New Year has well and truly begun in other parts of the world, here in Asia we are welcoming in the Year of the Sheep.

As the Lunar New Year begins, I am taking some time to reflect on what has happened in the world of hospitality design over the last year.

The most distinctive trend was in the area of F&B, with a substantial amount of operators and owners coming up with briefs that seek to break away from the norm and from typical hotel restaurants. We are hearing words like casual, industrial, vintage, retro, and eclectic – each wanting to be different from the rest, but in a sense all moving in the same direction.

We understand this gravitation towards the look and feel of New York’s formally industrial spaces, warehouses with natural patina touches that evoke a touch of history or a past life. The blackened steel windows and glazed tiles, vintage furniture coupled with Edison lamps and distressed timber planks all have a very strong pull particularly for contemporary F&B. But now that this type of design has become common language I am concerned that collecting all of these similar design briefs will result in many new restaurants looking the same. We are essentially breaking away from the norm by running towards the same thing.

We understand the need for new concepts, particularly when it comes to F&B – and in that sense each hotel has its own unique story to tell with the restaurants playing an important part in that narrative.

Ultimately, it is something that is outside of our scope as designers. We don’t create the brief, we merely interpret it into the space. I am looking forward to seeing if this direction will continue or if it will start to evolve.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year of the Sheep!