Sunday, 26 September 2010

Hotel Designers get a 100% Grilling

Yesterday’s ‘Question Time’ hosted by IDA at the 100% Design Exhibition put the designers on the spot and gave them a good old grilling. The debate was chaired by BLUEPRINT Magazine founder & all round architectural impresario Peter Murray. Panel members included Iqbal Latif (IL), Developer of the renowned Hotel Rafayel, Stephan Oberwegner (SO), MD, at Max Bentheim and Dexter Moren (DM) of Dexter Moren Associates. Read this Despoke event report to get the full low down…

Is the clients brand more important than the design? And can very strong branding guidelines ever be detrimental to the development of the design?

DM commented that in his experience higher profile brands are usually less prescriptive with their design briefs. If the brand is easily recognisable, the designer had more freedom to bend the rules without alienating the consumer.

SO largely agreed but acknowledged that of course any brand has a certain identity to maintain and it is the job of the designer to create something unique that works within these parameters. He went on to point out that it is often the requests of private clients that can be the most restrictive as their close input and emotional investment in the design often invades the design process in a destructive way.

To what extent should architects and designers be addressing sustainability issues today?

IL The hotel industry is a hugely wasteful one and it is the job of the designer to lead the way when it comes to enforcing change. I have coined the phrase “affordable luxury”. In my hotel, we never compromise in the experience of the guest but we’re always looking for ways to compromise on waste. Architectural design must start taking the issues of consumption and waste into serious consideration.

DM agreed with IL, firmly asserting his belief that “Anybody who is not addressing sustainability at the moment must be stupid!”

Have you noticed the needs of building owners and developers to be evolving and if so, how are they changing?

DM explained that electronic technology is fast becoming requested as standard by clients. The constant evolution of innovative new gadgets means that clients are always trying to get ahead of the curve so that they can offer their customers the most cutting edge technology. In the future hotel guests will be able to check into their rooms using their mobile phones and there will be no need for any sort of reception service.

SO highlighted that in his experience such a rapid emphasis on electronic technology has lead to very different requests from his clients. Many have shown a desire to move away from the modern, requesting to go back to basics design using only natural, locally sourced, quality materials. These clients don’t want to battle with new technologies and crave a humble organic design that feels real and honest.

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