Mid March was London Design Week at Chelsea Harbour Design Centre.
It’s always an exciting time to get inspiration from what’s new in the interiors world, to network, or even just a good excuse to visit the centre and ogle at all the luxe fabrics and fabulous furniture.
“Conversations in Design” was a star feature of the week; a series of inspiring talks from industry experts.
I was only able to attend one, but it was a great one at that – “Work, Rest, Play – hospitality design redefined”, was a talk hosted by Sleeper magazine; the globally-renowned, hotel design and architecture magazine.
On the panel were three names synonymous with some of London’s most iconic hotels. Brian Clivaz, Food and Beverage Director of the Savoy Group and Founder of member’s club Home House, Sharan Pasricha, founder of the Hoxton Hotel group and Tom Hupe, Director of hospitality at Perkins + Will.
The conversation explored our changing lifestyles over the past few years, and how this has led to a re-think in many aspects of hotel design.
With a distinct focus on luxury, Brian’s portfolio of hotels and clubs is one of exclusivity. It’s a different design model to others; one in which the clientele are cherry-picked and invited to be part of the experience.
Over the years, he has seen a surge in members clubs offering rooms for people to stay overnight, almost a club-hotel hybrid.
This shows that clubs and hotels are really morphing into becoming an all-encompassing experience – one in which guests are welcome to linger and enjoy a range of spaces, fit for different purposes.
Home House, the fabulous, opulent members club occupying a chunk of Portman Square in Central London, fits this bill nicely.
Not only does it offer numerous vast, grandiose bars and restaurants, it has a garden, gym, spa and a selection of rooms and suites.
Home House to me, is one of those incredible “destination” venues – one that carries you into a realm of luxury and decadence, and one that you never want to leave.
I could easily return, if only to be surrounded by the intriguing mix of historical and modern design.
Sharan’s famed hotels have always piqued my curiosity. As a local East Londoner, I remember being intrigued the first time I stepped into the Hoxton Hotel in Shoreditch.
A seemingly sleek space, made more approachable by the layout – there is no vast, open, hotel lobby as associated with many a typical hotel. Here, there are sofas, tables and chairs scattered all over, and groups of people mingling over a cocktail…. Much like you would experience in any bar.
Hotels are now much more than a place to trundle along to with your suitcase for a nights’ stay.
As London’s dining scene evolves to be both more casual and more versatile, they have become a destination, much like any café, to meet, eat, drink, socialise and linger.
The Hoxton Hotel Holborn, newbie to the group, aligns with this view – the traditional lobby has been transformed into an eclectic mish-mash of people from all walks of life; some sipping coffee, some devouring burgers and beer and others propped up over laptops.
For the growing number of freelancers and remote workers, hotels are also now mobile offices. Not only are sofas filled daily with remote workers, but hotels, including the Hoxton Holborn, offer conference rooms and a library for larger, more private work affairs.
There is such a prominent, growing trend in hotel spaces being used in this way, that according to Tom, in two years, there will more self employed people in London than there will public sector workers.
This staggering statistic makes you realise just how big the demand is for commercial spaces to broaden their design approach.
The trend does however raise some questions – surely, amongst the workers that settle in for a day with their laptop, you’re going to get “those” kinds of people, who sit there nursing no more than a single latte across their 5 hour visit? This can’t be good for business, surely?
This doesn’t however faze Sharan, who believes those more frugal visitors are balanced out by the higher paying ones. He loves the eclectic mix of clientele and believes it all “adds to the hustle”.
And how about the cross-functional aspect – how do you comfortably cater for a multitude of uses within one open space? They all agree that this is part of the design challenge.
For Sharan, comfort, no matter what you’re using the space for, is key – his hotels are designed as “an extension of the living room”; a balanced mix of cozy furniture and carefully selected focal pieces.
Lighting and music play a key role in dictating the atmosphere of a space, or sub spaces within a larger area, Brian adds.
Like any lifestyle-related industry, a crucial part of success is remaining synchronised with the changing ways in which we live our lives. Clearly our three panellists are on top this.
I do wonder – how will hotel design continue to evolve in years to come?