The Possibilities of Modern Design + Hospitality
It turns out that hospitality, from boutique hotels to vacation homes, are proving to be the ideal showcase for many talented designers around the country - amateurs and professionals alike - offering spectacular and unique results. As I wrote about in a previous post about “The Art of Local & Hospitality”, I have spent the last few years traveling extensively around America — mainly to emerging markets — to speak with local hospitality entrepreneurs and how they are getting everything right in terms of design and branding.
While the importance of interior and architectural design for large hotels companies is nothing new, it is the boutique brands that are elevating the creative medium to new heights, as they have more room to experiment, take risks and work with local artisans and influences. In many cases, I have seen new designers turn Airbnb properties into an extended portfolio (see Allison Crawford’s HOTELette or The Combs’ Joshua Tree Houses), real estate pros with a knack for design creating unique stay experiences (see Lyon Porter’s Urban Cowboy B&B and The Dive Motel), ex-design editors merge curated shops with B&B experiences (see Anna Bern’s NEST), young architects create new structural concepts (see Chris Pardo’s ARRIVE Hotels), entrepreneurs rescuing historic buildings (see designer Jordan Fife’s National Exchange Hotel, and Allison Carroll designed El Rey Court), or the long-standing innkeepers with excellent taste (see designers Ira and Sylvia Sere’s The Five Graces ) and many more examples I have collected. on my many solo and research travels, particularly around the Southwest. I know in nearby Joshua Tree, California you can barley throw a stone without hitting someone’s new renovation project these days, and it seems I keep running into people grouping multiple vacation homes or rescued motels into new brand experiences. The creative outlet, challenge and potential revenue stream bringing new energy to creative entrepreneurs and visionaries everywhere.
As for medium to larger brands, Liz Lambert’s Bunkhouse Group, the Nomad Hotels (designed by Jacques Garcia), the Proper Hotels & Residences (designed by Kelly Wearstler) , the PRG Hospitality Group (see Sparrows Lodge, and Holiday House designed by Mark D. Sikes, and the Sands Hotel designed by Martyn Lawrence Bullard), the sustainable-focused 1 Hotels Group, the playful Graduate Hotels, as well as the incredible locations and buildings by Aman (see the stunning Canyon Point Amangiri location by Marwan Al-Saved), continue to move the needle on design, functionality, comfort and the increasingly sophisticated design aesthetic needs of their visitors. By enhancing a hotel or home’s visual experience, playing with design elements and collection pieces throughout, they enhance the entire guest experience, and the old cookie-cutter ways of the hotel giants no longer apply.
Watching these individuals explore the possibilities and their creative talent is a joy to watch, and therefore a joy to stay with them. They invite you in and encourage you to explore.
Also in this hospitality realm are the community work (and soon living) spaces of companies like WeWork (lead by designer Adam Kimmel) and The Wing, the latter of which just announced it is expanding–and taking on design projects outside of The Wing’s own spaces. All of this makes sense, of course, as consumers have more choices than ever in where they work, travel, and eat, and arguably, thoughtful detail and personality has never played a larger role in the hospitality market as it does today. If you plan on opening a business that deals with people and experiences anymore, then the design better have a point of view. It is exciting to see the expansion of creative ideas - often with sustainability and environmentally conscious approach - as they pertain to new spaces and places, with many new individuals (and ideas) at the helm. I look forward to more discoveries and conversations with entrepreneurs on my continued travels.
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