Ever ready to indulge their guests in a high-quality experience, restaurant and hotel owners—and the designers who shape their properties—constantly adapt to market demands and changing tastes to create inspiring hospitality settings. From a branding perspective, there’s more emphasis on design as a differentiator than ever before in today’s competitive global marketplace. These forward-looking tastemakers also often set the tone for trends in residential as well as commercial environments, such as healthcare settings and office space, which now embrace boutique hotel-inspired qualities, too. So what’s next on the hospitality front? We tapped three designers—Michael Suomi of Stonehill & Taylor, Patricia Rotondo of VOA Associates, and Angela Denney of FRCH Design Worldwide—for their take on what’s trending.
1. An emphasis on eco-friendliness.
“’Locavorism’ and social sustainability are gaining momentum,” says Michael Suomi. “I believe in the ability of the hotel industry’s collective buying power to boost local economies, and we want to do our part by advocating buying local. We also see more natural materials being used.”
2. Less pattern, more texture, and pops of color.
“In both public spaces and guest rooms, palettes are moving toward neutral tones, with bright accent colors and just one key pattern on carpet or a drapery or pillows,” says Angela Denney. “Patterns tend to be large-scale and often geometric in urban areas and organic in resort areas,” she explains. Denney also sees a movement away from traditional patterned Axminster carpets in hospitality settings. Instead, there’s a new “focus on asymmetrical patterns, that start strong at one end of a corridor and fade at the other,” she says. “Owners are now more open to carpet tiles in hospitality settings because of the diversity of options now, too.”
3. Seamless technology.
“Technology is being implemented in all hotels from the operations standpoint to the guest experience,” says Patricia Rotondo.“For example, with the push of a button a guest who couldn’t finish watching a movie on the plane during landing can finish watching it in his room,” she says. New technologies cut facility management costs, too, according to Denney. “Energy consciousness is important to owners, so more and more are exploring key card control points that manage lighting use, for example” she says.
4. A customized experience.
“Another huge trend is personalization,” says Suomi. “New concepts are evolving based on flexibility and individual needs. Hotels with just two to three rooms, pop-up hotels, and modular hotels are all new concepts being explored. The recession also changed attitudes toward spending money and in a continuation of this new attitude we are seeing that customers actually expect less service—the majority are happy with doing some of the service themselves,” he says.
5. Rarefied luxury.
“On the flip side, at the upper luxury level, guests are expecting to be pampered more,” says Suomi. “That also ties to the economy and how true luxury is catering to a much smaller and select audience,” he explains. Among the extras introduced at the high-end, says Rotondo, are “radiant-heat floors, TVs that convert to mirrors when not turned on, and guest baths with mirror defoggers—little things that make the guests want to come back.”
6. Celebrating local craftsmanship.
“Handwork and crafts in interior design used to be limited to small-scale projects,” says Suomi. “Nowadays, even larger projects incorporate craftsmanship to distinguish the design. There is a stronger focus on regionalism, so in our $25 million renovation of the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis, for example, we extensively researched producers, manufacturers, craftspeople, and artists in the area, and worked closely with them to achieve using products made domestically, mostly in the immediate area, in 80 percent of the furnishings, without any premium. This not only helps local economies, but also creates a nice emotional tie with the community,” he says.
7. Designer-driven branding.
“Brands follow designers now, not firms,” says Rotondo, who explains that “owners expect designers to go through a brand immersion process and once a designer is on board the client will continue to work with the designer, rather than the firm, if the designer moves on in order to keep the brand DNA intact.” Brands also adapt to context, says Rotondo. “For international projects, some cultures revolve around food—so the F&B component of the hotel is more important, others revolve around family, so the spaces have to have room for everyone. So now there’s also more freedom to use a boutique approach to each location.”
8. Multi-use spaces.
“Lobbies are now becoming multi-use spaces that can be used to serve breakfast during the day and host happy hours in the evenings,” says Rotondo. “As a result, seating and flooring respond to the use in these areas, with carpet and continental chairs going in the lounge-y spaces and hard surfaces and communal tables and chairs in dining areas.”
9. Bottom-line driven materials.
“Owners are looking to get more for less,” says Suomi. “This often translates into designers having to find new kinds of materials—on the maintenance side we are looking at creating highly engineered natural materials,” he notes. In the same vein, Denney is seeing more hard surface floors in guestrooms, “including larger-scale rectangular tiles and laminate floors that look like wood.”
Denney also said she’s “excited about Interface Hospitality’s new collection, which departs from traditional patterning and offers lots of different patterns and textures with combinations of cut and loop construction and lots of great colors as well as patterns with new twists on classic motifs like paisley.”