It’s an exciting time to be a hospitality designer, but that certainly doesn’t it make it any easier. Like their colleagues in other fields, hospitality designers are being asked to prove that they are a smart investment—but they’re also being tasked with capturing the hearts and minds of consumers who already have too many entertainment options to choose from. Suddenly, convincing people to fill up booths and belly up to the bar doesn’t seem so simple.
So what’s an enterprising designer to do? We asked a few professionals in the field, and as it turns out, there are some emerging trends and tricks that you can take advantage of to create hospitality spaces that stir up buzz, create their own word-of-mouth marketing and keep customers coming back for more.
Make a Splash
“You capture the person in the first 10 seconds,” says designer Meg Sharpe, who has worked with the Crown Hospitality Group on projects including
The Lion and The Windsor in New York City. “It’s like a good book—in that first sentence, your reader is either captured or not, so I find it really important to make that first face. That’s where I always tend to put a bit more money and detail into, because that’s what going to keep people coming back.”
The specific design approach will differ depending on the objective—hotel clients are often looking for a singular impact point that will capture customers at first glance, while dining establishments are now requesting smaller spaces like vestibules, antechambers and foyers before revealing the full restaurant space—but the tools can be the same.
Sharpe says that line of sight is critical, and encourages designers to find a specific viewpoint or wall in a space that can be specially treated. The possibilities include custom artworks, uniquely patterned fabrics or striking antique pieces.
Bold surfaces are also an option, and give designers a solid foundation to build upon. Some new options include porcelain panels from Laminam by Crossville, which blend texture and color with a metallic sheen; Cosmos from Móz Designs, a series of aluminum panels featuring dramatic color gradients; and the Ornamental Surfaces Collection from Architectural Systems, with more than 80 patterns, including quilted leathers and hammered metals.
“It’s all about depth, because you want people to think there’s more to see,” says Sharpe.
Standout lighting features can also help set the mood while making a big impact. The options include AIR from 3M Architectural Markets, a flexible hoop fixture that can be used singularly or combined into clusters; Metronome from Delta Lighting, available in a tailor-made XXL version; the beautifully crafted Totem from LZF Lamps; or any of the inventive ceiling fixtures from Yellow Goat Design (you’ll likely have a hard time picking just one).