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Design synergy between hospitality and commercial design

25 Apr 2018  |  Innovation  |  Design

Hotels are now making a high proportion of their revenue from food and beverage sales; anywhere between 25 and 45% of their total revenue[1]. This means that as well as the typical guests who are paying to stay overnight in the hotel, there are many other types of client to be considered. Some will only come to use the hotel for a few hours at a time, and will never actually check-in to a room at all. These guests are not on holiday, or travelling for business, but are using the hotel communal areas as an extension of their office space.

This is where the synergy between designing for the commercial sector and the hospitality industry really comes into play. As more businesses introduce flexible working for staff, hotel lobbies are increasingly being used as co-working hubs or for meeting space. Individuals or small groups visit with their laptops and expect to find a space they can plug in and work – hopefully spending money on food and drink in the hotel restaurants and cafes while they are there. Hotels have seen the profitability in this, and so are furnishing these spaces accordingly.

Whether the space is officially designated as a co-working space, or an area that informally encourages people to work there, the thinking behind the design is the same. The area needs to provide collaborative furniture items such a long bench tables for groups to work around, comfortable and supportive seating, plus readily accessible power supply for laptop, tablet and smartphone plug in.

The Ace Hotel in Shoreditch describes its lobby as ‘a place to work, relax or wheel and deal 24 hours a day’, where they have ‘divided the space up into an open series of room-like zones — partitions made up of furniture arrangements…so you can tuck yourself away while still staying a healthy part of the hive.’

The CitizenM hotel in London’s Bankside says its lobby ‘has actually been cunningly disguised as contemporary living rooms…There's a living room for every occasion, whether you want to work, relax, meet friends…iMacs are dotted around for work, play and googling, and there's free WiFi throughout the hotel.’

The Sketch Studios office in London Bridge has a very similar look and feel to both of these examples. The design and furniture were chosen specifically to accommodate an agile way of working, and elements we have are easily transferred over to the hospitality industry to create the same desired effect.

Flexible items of furniture are used throughout the office, so staff are comfortable in working where they need to; they can take a call, plug in their laptop or have a team meeting. We have zoned the workplace so different areas are available as and when they are required. The kitchen area, named ‘The Larder’, is a relaxing environment created to encourage staff to eat with colleagues and socialise. Many workplaces don’t have this, and so workers often eat at their desks – a practice that does not promote motivation and a productive environment.  Acoustically sound booths are also present in the dining space, so small groups are able to meet and work without disturbing others. Importantly, power points are integrated discreetly into furniture so technology can be used where required, and of course Wi-Fi is available everywhere.

Conclusion

It is clear that the commercial sector and the hospitality industries have a direct affinity when it comes to purpose, intent and design. Both require the business to put the customer (or guest) at the heart of the undertaking, and as what the customer wants changes, both have to be adept at moving to meet this.

In order to successfully design for either environment, an in-depth understanding of people and space is required, along with strong product knowledge. When this criteria is met, the perfect atmosphere can be created.

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