Category Archives: Hospitality Design

Resurgence of the ‘70s in Hospitality Design at HD Expo 2016

Sarah Pelham

Flares, platforms, tassels and shearling collar coats are filling the catwalk. It’s official – the 1970s are back! Every year the hospitality design market sees the re-emergence of a particular period. In recent years, mid-century modern inspired design has been the ruling influence, but this year the vibe is turning to the 1970s.

Does this give you a feeling of nostalgia or more of panic? Personally, I feel a bit nostalgic. How could you not like the era of the iconic “Brady Bunch” and “Partridge Family”? It was a time when pattern, texture and color were of paramount importance. Individuality paired with self-expression were trademarks of this generation. Design elements were tactile, bold and greatly influenced by the back-to-nature movement, which was globally fueled by the world’s changing political and social climate.

hospitality wood

Hospitality design elements were tactile, bold and greatly influenced by the back-to-nature movement.

Hospitality Design Trends at HD Expo 2016

In alignment with the ’70s, HD Expo 2016 was a potpourri of different styles, reminiscent of a time of exploration and experimentation. I found a mixture of colors, patterns, and textures, making it hard to zero in on one overall hospitality design trend. (And no signs of macramé plant holders!) I found hospitality products with a crafted feel, exemplifying the basics of skilled craftsmanship. Products were grounded or ordinary, demonstrating that slowly acquired skills are admired.

hospitality elements

Sarah Pelham found hospitality products with a crafted feel, exemplifying the basics of skilled craftsmanship.

In our high-tech digital lives, people are yearning to see craftsmanship, whether it is in hand woven textiles, hand forged metals or carved wood pieces. A resurgent interest in reclaimed woods, laser cut detailing, chiseled and hammered finishes were abundant. In the world today, there’s an appreciation of everyday materials that are unpretentious but explicit. People are redefining spaces by including products that “speak” to them and removing the rest of the clutter. Artisan goods will continue to make waves, so opt for unique, individually crafted statement pieces.


In regard to textiles, I saw a range of styles including a variety of abstract felt cut-out shapes forming a pattern, handmade woven chunky wools and tactile fabrics with raised textured yarns, all supporting the desire for design to have a personal touch. Hand woven items using natural dyes and fibers were prevalent, as well as textiles with a regional influence in the form of sheepskins and pelts.

hospitality fabrics

HD Expo 2016 showcased handmade woven chunky wools, abstract felt cut-out shapes forming a pattern and tactile fabrics with raised textured yarns.

Global cultural influences for hospitality design, such as ethnic tribal embroidery, embellished baroque and lace flocked wall coverings, were additional examples of the modern day crafted products on the HD catwalk. Wall finishes brought tons of dimension, texture and vibrant color to an otherwise flat surface in the form of large graphic patterns like damask, modern abstract organics and geometrics.

Mixing Materials

Parallel to the 70s, the movement towards combining a wide mix of materials is on the rise. Different pieces in different finishes, moving further away from the traditional idea of “matching” items to furnish a space.

hospitality design

Experiment with unexpected elements that appear handmade, adding personality to a hospitality space.

My biggest takeaway? It’s time to start experimenting with unexpected elements that appear handmade, adding personality to a space and getting away from the look of mass production.

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Welcoming Biophilia in Hospitality


Ever since E.O. Wilson introduced the notion of biophilia in his 1984 book of the same name, there has been mounting evidence that humans are innately drawn to the natural world. It has been proven that views of nature enhance healing and that natural light promotes better learning.

Clearly, our connection with nature has a pervasive influence. And, design can be used to very effectively bridge the gap between the natural world and even the most urban environments. This phenomenon has been explored and documented in the workplace, in classrooms and in health facilities, where it shows a direct relationship to increased productivity, creativity and wellbeing. This has sparked great interest in how biophilic design might enhance the guest experience in hospitality.

hotel lobby

Design can be used to bridge the gap between the natural world and even the most urban environments. (Product: Human Nature Collection)

Biophilia in hospitality

When asked about what impact the global trend towards biophilia is having on the hospitality industry, Lorraine Francis, director of hospitality interiors for Gensler, takes a long pause. “I feel passionate about that and I have an idea about the design science of things, but I think it’s been hard to articulate within the hospitality market.” She cites studies that have been done for the healthcare sector that examine how certain healing and wellness initiatives make financial sense by resulting in less PTO, for example.

But when it comes to hospitality, there is currently very little quantified evidence to support biophilia. Which is why Francis is embarking on a research project in collaboration with several industry peers to come up with the metrics to make that possible.

The goal of this project boils down to figuring out how to measure comfort, which translates into longer stays and increases repeat business. “You know when you walk into a space and you feel good, and when you walk into a space and you feel like it’s too tall or too wide or there’s some mechanical thing overhead that makes you feel creepy,” she explains. “It’s really hard to express that feeling, but that’s exactly what we need to interpret for the hospitality industry, because this kind of very fundamental reaction is what affects loyalty and, ultimately, dollars.”

Applying biophilic design to hospitality spaces

This means examining every part of the guest room experience, from the bed to the pillows to the alarm clock, and understanding how the neurological system is affected by a direct connection to nature, whether through a window view or a carpet design. Studies exist that look at the number of steps taken to complete certain tasks; track where people gravitate to in a room; and determine where they sleep better.


hospitality guest room

Measuring the comfort of a space means examining every part of the guest room experience and understanding how the neurological system is affected by a direct connection to nature, whether through a window view or a carpet design. (Product: Springtime in Paris)

But Francis also sees the need to understand how this plays out in lobbies and indoor/outdoor public spaces. “How do you get around those long corridors? How do you let light in?” The answers to these questions are sure to illuminate a new, nature-inspired path in hospitality design—one that leads to a more efficient, more sustainable and much more comfortable world.

One key touchpoint for Francis is Bill Browning’s 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design, published in 2014 by Terrapin Bright Green, which thoughtfully expounds upon “the relationships between nature, human biology and the design of the built environment.” To facilitate the transition from research to application, it posits a system of patterns that encourages the widespread design implementation of biophilia. “The way that Bill looked at biophilic design for office spaces is a model for our approach to hospitality,” says Francis, “and we need to make biophilia a bigger part of the conversation in this industry.”


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My Boutique Tour of NYC

Sarah Pelham

After a day of combing through BDNY for the latest boutique hospitality trends, I took off to the streets of New York to see some fabulous spaces in person. Even though you can see these properties online, I find you get a much better feeling for the spaces when you see them yourself. My mission? To check out the new Park Hyatt, The Quin and 1 Hotel Central Park.

Park Hyatt New York
With elegant finishes and a ballroom with views of Central Park, this property offers stunning state-of-the-art rooms with sophistication and elegance. Designed by world-renowned, Pritzker Prize-winning architect Christian de Portzamparc, Park Hyatt New York delivers style and sophistication in every detail with beautifully articulated spaces that are functional and fashionable.

Park Hyatt

Park Hyatt New York

The Quin
A quintessential luxury boutique hotel, The Quin debuted on November 11th, 2013, and is located at the intersection of art, music and fashion near Central Park, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and Fifth Avenue couture. The Quin offers a melding of modern luxury with its rich artistic heritage. The building was constructed at the peak of the Arts and Crafts movement. Renowned architecture and interior design firm, Perkins Eastman, transposed the site into a contemporary masterpiece. With a rotating collection of art, each stay is a different visual experience. It looks like a fabulous boutique experience and I want to stay there!


The Quin

1 Hotels – Central Park
1 Hotels offers a unique experience to guests. You’ll find open spaces bathed in natural light, food made with the freshest organic ingredients and recycled or reclaimed wood and materials throughout the property. 1 Hotels has an eco-friendly platform that is similar to our own thoughts and visions at Interface Hospitality. 1 Hotels states, “Most ideas start from an observation. Ours was a simple one: the world around us is beautiful and we want to do our best to keep it that way.” They are focused on minimizing their environmental footprint and they support organizations that care about sustainability, the environment and local communities.

1 Hotel

1 Hotels – Central Park

Following nature’s model, 1 Hotels is vested in the belief that we find nature intertwined into everything we touch, see, smell and taste. They have worked hard to bring the outside in with natural light, living plants and fresh scents. Like in nature, everything at 1 Hotels works together and introduces a new way to experience luxury living. The use of natural textures, building materials from nature and an abundance of natural light grants a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor spaces.

My time visiting boutique hotels while attending BDNY was filled with visual variety and experiences to feed my artistic spirit. I encourage everyone to embark on a New York boutique experience.

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What’s Trending in Boutique Hotel Design from BDNY 2015

Sarah Pelham

A boutique is any small, exclusive business offering customized service, especially one that sells fashionable items specializing in one aspect of a larger industry. BDNY is the time for boutique hotels to find the coolest, hippest design elements to enhance guest experiences.

Each year I look forward to grabbing coffee and a bagel, putting on my comfortable boots and setting out to take in the show as well as touring the city. Boutique design and New York City are the perfect match. As you walk through the city, you’re surrounded by boutique hotels, shops and restaurants, giving you a chance to experience a few days of boutique life.

Trends seen at BDNY 2015

True to its name, BDNY booths showcased specialty design in hospitality. The booths are all similar in size, making the show a manageable event to tackle and find the latest, interesting, “one off” items to make hotel properties unique.

Organic and natural

The 2015 HD Expo themes of gold/bronze finishes, tactile, textural surfaces and natural, organic form continued at the 2015 BDNY show. I also found nature-inspired freeform light fixtures, natural interlocking wood wall systems and specialty furniture items.


Sarah found many tactile, textural surfaces on display at BDNY 2015.

Flooring throughout the show was very organic, transforming from one pattern/shape to another. There were fabrics that demonstrated a deconstruction form between positive and negative surfaces. Luxurious velvets, natural hides, felts and woven textiles were abundant. These textiles connect natural fibers with high end luxury.


Just a sampling of the luxurious velvet, natural hides, felts and woven textiles at the show.


In the market for a bright, special accent piece? It could easily be found at BDNY. Crystal pendants, handcrafted inlaid gold mosaics, intricate cast bronze lamps, interlocking bronze wall panels, and elegant jacquard fabric were found throughout the show. The classic hounds tooth pattern was a popular geometric that popped up in furniture and fabrics. In wall covering systems and flooring, the rectangular plank format was abundant.


In the market for a bright, special accent piece? Here’s a sampling of what was spotted at BDNY 2015.

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Hospitality Carpet: A Design Evolution


The stereotype of the business traveler—middle-aged, white, male—has given way to a new demographic that is young, diverse and grounded in a culture of work that intersects with all parts of life. In response to this shifting landscape, the hospitality industry is coming up with subtler, more sophisticated environments and a more judicious use of color.


The trend in hospitality flooring is now for subtler, more timeless looks that emphasize pattern and texture.

“Where once we might have seen bold, vibrant colors throughout,” says Melissa Cranshaw, Director of Hospitality A&D Market Development at Interface Hospitality, “the trend is now for subtler, more timeless looks that emphasize pattern and texture.” With this shift, the floor has become less a feature element than an integral part of the overall aesthetic. Cranshaw cites developments at Interface Hospitality within the last year that are propelling this trend forward.

The introduction of the elongated Skinny Planks™ allows for much more fluid transitions, as does Urban Retreat™, collection of three products featuring a transition element along the edge of the tiles in one style that allows for gradual changes. The launch of the Portmanteau™ Collection expands greatly upon this concept, with patterns over a series of tiles that facilitate movement both horizontally and vertically and allow designers to choose which elements create this movement across a floor. This is the kind of versatility and creative license that is every designer’s dream.


The Portmanteau™ Collection of carpet tile patterns facilitate movement both horizontally and vertically and allow designers to choose which elements create movement across a floor.

Bree Dahl, the ForrestPerkins Vice President who leads the company’s San Francisco office, has watched the evolution of Interface Hospitality with great interest. “We work primarily with 4- and 5-star hotels,” she explains, “and up until recently carpet tile was not even an option for us because of its overtly commercial look.” But due to recent innovations in design, Dahl has used Interface Hospitality carpet in several different applications, including a hotel corridor, a meeting room and a restaurant—even putting in for a waiver from one client whose brand standards specified broadloom. She says her choice is based on what she’s able to do with the product from a design standpoint, not on more expected reasons like ease of maintenance or price.

Using carpet tiles in ways that were previously not possible is an exciting development for designers. “With so many of the new products from Interface Hospitality, you can’t even tell that they’re tile, unless you look really closely,” marvels Dahl. “I’ve chosen patterns with a very textural design that have no clear overall repeat and the effect is remarkable.” Clients, too, have been surprised and pleased. Dahl intends to keep her eye on Interface as it continues to innovate. “There are so many new possibilities that are now in play and we’re really excited about what’s coming next.”

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