Ahead of the Independent Hotel Show 2019, design partners and exhibitors discuss four areas set to be hot in hotel design: Bold colours, statement pieces, a homely feel and a conscious approach.
Bold and bright décor
Soft, muted shades have been the preferred palette for hotel bedrooms and lobbies for many years, but it’s now time to ‘banish the beige’ and embrace bold and bright colours, says Gemma Tate, director of House of Sloane.
“Gone are the days where all the rooms are filled with beige upon beige and look exactly the same. Boutique hotels are becoming more confident in their use of bold and colourful decor, mixing eclectic elements when styling individual rooms and giving the guest a captivating experience,” she says.
As design partner to the Innovation Stage, House of Sloane is planning to fulfil the brief of ‘modern eclecticism meets maximalist glamour’ by kitting the stage out with bold hues, luxurious velvets, a dash of animal print and eclectic accessories.
Susi Bellamy, founder of her eponymous agency and wallpaper partner to the Independent Hotel Show, says the ‘trend for a more eclectic approach to interiors seems to be here to stay’ and notes a ‘growing appetite’ for brighter colours.
“Jewel tones, acid brights and candy colours are omnipresent in hospitality interiors and add a joyful tone to spaces,” she says as she explains the three striking wallpaper designs – Grey Stucco, Grey Stucco Pebbles and Pietra Grigia – she has selected to hang on walls at this year’s show.
“The palette of these designs means they work in harmony with one another and provide a versatile backdrop for a range of hotel settings. Grey Stucco and Grey Stucco Pebbles inject a pop of colour into a setting and feel very bohemian. Grey Stucco Pebbles layers some collage over the top of the design and is a slightly more eccentric choice for interiors that truly stand out. Pietra Grigia combines tones of pale greyish greens and works well alongside cream and neutrals. These designs are some of our bestsellers, owing to their adaptable colour scheme and understated elegance.”
Make a statement
If there’s no budget or time for a full re-design, investing in one eye-catching piece of furniture per room, or to place in a communal area is one way to refresh a hotel’s look and help your business seem on-trend. A similar impact can be found by painting or wallpapering a single feature wall or ceiling.
“Invest in a statement sofa or chair,” advises Tate. “This is potentially one of the first things your guests will see on arrival and actually says a lot of about a hotel. Be brave with your choice of colour and shape. This should be about what works for your brand and should be a part of your overall room design. We would highly recommend this is one of those high-ticket items that you don’t cheap out on. Eclectic pieces, hand built with quality craftsmanship that are sturdy and made to last is a winning combination. Anything else is a false economy.”
Felicity Randolph, of Cheeky Chairs, an exhibitor at this year’s Independent Hotel Show, agrees and believes that unique statement pieces lend themselves particularly well to boutique independent hotels. “With the ever-increasing influence of Instagram and Pinterest, consumers are seeking a more esoteric individual style of hotel. Independent hotels are perfectly placed to capitalise on this trend and offer something truly unique and unexpected.”
The company’s boutique collection of crafted designer chairs and bar stools feature naturally soft seats upholstered in striking designer fabric. “Our approach has been very much along the lines of a fashion collection on the runway,” Randolph explains. “Our models are carefully chosen for a specific feature of their shape; perhaps it’s the subtle curve of their leg, the length of their back, their enveloping seat or the flick of their ankle. Each finished product is a unique combination of model, designer fabric and colour to create a truly unique statement piece.”
“If you are unsure of how to incorporate more colour and pattern into your interiors, consider having a single feature wall or using wallpaper in the back of a bookcase to provide a hint of colour and print,” adds Bellamy.
Create a home-from-home
The way guests use hotels is changing and interiors need to accommodate these shifts in behaviour if they want to survive. Starchy, formal and defined areas are no longer in vogue. Instead, guests want to be able to access services wherever and whenever they want within a hotel, so designing multi-purpose, flexible spaces that can cater for these changing needs is key.
“A home-from-home approach is where hotels are moving towards, expanding the lobby into a living room space, almost a common room area where guests can find intimate places to relax,” says Tate. “We’ve definitely noticed a big shift away from painstakingly pristine – and often slightly void of personality – spaces in favour of a ‘home away from home’ vibe,” confirm Jamie and Lou Graham of Graham & Green, design partner for the Hotel Vision Stage.
“This is particularly reflected in the design of communal spaces; topping polished marble floors with comfortable rugs and adding a range of seating that has comfort at its core. We believe guests want to feel at home in the space they are in, and to be able to recreate their favourite hotel spaces in their homes.”
Décor can also help hotels provide a more homely feel to spaces, says Bellamy. “Carefully selected ‘objets’ on mantelpieces, and soft furnishings like luxurious throws or plush cushions are an ideal finishing touch that transform a space to feel more homely and cosy.”
The home from home feel can also be achieved on a more practical level by making it easy for guests to settle in quickly by providing them with the tools to do so.
“We also see a connection between home and life through technology which is here now and working, so an easy transition from home to hotel is essential,” says Nick Sunderland of Two’s Company, design partner for The Suite who recommends swapping light sockets to include USB chargers so guests can easily charge electronic devices during their stay.
A conscious approach
Sustainability is a hot topic, with everyone showing increasing concern for their carbon footprint, and investigating ways they can reduce it. Hotels are no exception and forward-thinking hoteliers are keen to lessen their business’s impact on the environment in all areas, including design.
The Independent Hotel Show’s live installation this year is The Conscious Hotel Room where sustainability has been considered across ‘every inch of the room’ according to Alex Harris, director of Harris & Harris, the multidisciplinary design studio in charge of creating it.
Brand partners, who include Axminster, Cole & Son and Naturalmat, will provide furnishings that include recycled, organic, natural or sustainably-sourced materials while others, like Crosswater, will showcase energy-efficient bathroom items.
“It was also felt important that the ‘mileage’ of each product was kept to a minimum by sourcing items that have been produced in the UK, an ethos which also helps support local businesses and communities,” adds Harris.
Sunderland of Two’s Company also regards sustainability as a key trend and will integrate this ethos into the design of The Suite. The area will feature tables from Nature Squared, which uses sustainable natural resources such as feathers, egg shells and seashells to create unusual surfaces.
Conscious design doesn’t simply mean using sustainable furnishings and products, however. It also encompasses areas such as accessibility, so The Conscious Hotel Room has been designed in a way that is mindful of the needs of guests with mobility issues, says Harris. “Generous space was allowed around the bed, desk, and joinery as well as omitting the door to the dressing room and bathroom. Space was allowed below the vanity unit and a large wet-room style shower, with no change in the floor heights, making the bathroom wheelchair accessible.
“Through articles in the media and better education, travellers are becoming more eco-savvy and are now demanding that hotels provide a more sustainable stay for them. Hoteliers need to keep up with this trend, which won’t be a passing fad but a new and better way of living. Hotels have the opportunity to be the best expression of sustainable living which can then inspire guests to live in a more conscious way when they return home,” he concludes.
The latest in hotel design can be seen at The Independent Hotel Show 2019 at Olympia London on 15 and 16 October.