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The changing designscape

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Visual art in hallways, pops of bold colours in cafes, wooden floors in rooms and edgy designs on walls are slowly replacing the conventional interior elements in hotels and restaurants. While designers are experimenting with new textures and patterns, hoteliers want spaces that appeal to the new age traveller. Food & Hospitality World checks out the latest interior trends that are transforming hospitality design By Saloni Bhatia

Upcoming hotels and cafes around the country are creatively adapting to the social changes and tech-savvy travellers. Some striking designs like bold colours, textile wallpapers and metal artworks are shaping the design scene today. The hotels now have versatile lobbies and room designs with a homely feel, ensuring a personalised experience for the guest. Restaurants and cafes are not only experimenting with the quirky furniture but are also hiring regional artists to decorate their walls. Even simple twist to the regular patterns are making a huge difference in changing the interior outlook.

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Alifia Shabbir

Alifia Shabbir, principal designer, Design Mint, a Bengaluru-based interior designing company, informs, “Hotels are now moving away from the traditional concept of styling the interiors. They prefer a different outlook of the entire hotel and want the property to speak a single language. Designing with modern interiors is not just restricted to the dining section but has moved towards grand lobbies and crafted wall décor. Eco friendly furniture and metal pieces are trending as new installations at the hotels. The main reason for their use is good quality and durability in the long run. There is also higher demand of quality products with minimalistic design. Instead of the conventional art pieces they are reviving some old crafts by experimenting with textiles and fabrics.”

Changing outlook

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Sreeram Rama Chandran

Hotels are now more discreet about their complete outlook, restricting to a theme but at the same time experimenting with new designs and patterns. Sreeram Rama Chandran, principal designer, Resorts & Destinations, KGD Architecture, mentions, “Hotels are now moving towards more boutique in terms of language shift and parameters. Gone are those days when hotel entities were purely and solely colloquial and luxurious. The segments are being fragmented now as business/ leisure/ holiday hotels. These days more and more interior entities are packed into a hotel room, when it comes to the private spaces. The public spaces, apart from the restaurants, coffee shops, bars, etc, are seeing overnight themes and vibrant ones at that. It is interesting to note that these public spaces within the hotel undergo constant redesign and facelift to keep the customer enticed and frequenting the hotel.”

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Dinesh Rai

Dinesh Rai, general manager, Mercure Hyderabad KCP, states that though they are a city centre business hotel, the property has some interesting art decor. The owner of the Mercure Hyderabad KCP is involved with the look and feel of the place. The hotel has two paintings of MF Hussain brought from Delhi by Kavitha Dutt Chitturi, executive director of KCP. He  further adds that the concept of Mercure also incorporates the local art and culture in their decor.

“Further, the guest room head board above photo frame incorporates local Cherial painting of the Cherial village from Telangana state. The guest floor corridor paintings, the hydraint boxes in front of the guest lift houses acrylic silicon painting by Thota Tharani in Chennai. The bar ceilings have also been done by Tharani. The front – office has a background that reflects Nizami
architecture,” he mentions.

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Environment focus

Nowadays many hoteliers are also opting for sustainable products that are not a threat to the environment. Purchase managers are careful about these items prior to opening, during refurbishment and ongoing operations. Some of the factors that affect these decisions are – quality, effectiveness, value for money, design and product lifespan. Shabbir informs, “Metal installations are indefinitely recyclable and add a very unique look to the place. At the same time the smaller items which are not just artistic but highly functional would continue to exist at hotels. Sustainable furniture is replacing heavy old furniture. These are the trends that I see continuing in the market in the long run.”

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Faiz Alam Ansari

Faiz Alam Ansari, general manager, Aloft Bengaluru Cessna Business Park, adds, “The shift of focus to sustainability and the environmental impact has played a massive role in interior trends over the past few years. Most guests and companies we cater to make it a part of their policy to only choose hotels that have these plans in place. Trends are also evolving today with wide variety of clientele that hotels cater to in terms of their lifestyles and preferences. Hotel designs are aimed at being a destination on their own and not just a space.”

In the long run, hotels with a sustainable practice and those that cater to the environmentally conscious guest will continue to trend. “It is an important practice to incorporate into the hotel and will continue play a huge role in hotel designs. The concept of having a multi – use atrium with natural lighting, as we do at Aloft Bengaluru Cessna Business Park, will also continue to be a key trend in hotel design as it portrays a larger well-lit space, more welcoming and inviting to the guest. From the hotel perspective, even as smaller lobby will display a larger sense of space. Keeping in mind the surge in land pricing it has an additional bonus in cost saving,” mentions Ansari.

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What’s trending

Jars converted as lights, inverted posters and graffiti as wall décor is seen in cafes all over the country. One of such restaurants to cleverly adopt the new trends is Soda Bottle Opener Wala. The design is old world, colonial and humorous. The restaurant gives a slice of ‘Bombay experience’ at its Parsi best. Every item seen on the walls and on the menu is typical of Bombay and of what you most likely may find in a Parsi home and kitchen. Keeping most original elements of a typical Irani cafe in place, architect Clement De’Sylva and fashion and interior designer Sabina Singh, added a few contemporary touches. Their take of Parsi Style Freddie Mercury meets Monty Python on the large mirrors juxtaposes with a play of graphics all around that bring out the Parsi spirit and idiosyncrasies. The ‘chuk chuk’ train moving around the restaurant is reflective of the old train system of Mumbai which is integral to the spirit of the city. A jumble of Parsi portraits with framed images of life in Irani cafes and the bustling Bombay street life on the walls, all tell the story of a Bombay Irani café.

Old printed tiles on the floor, Irani chairs and chai glasses, red checker and crochet tablecloths, coloured glass lamps and dome lights from Chor Bazaar, cuckoo clocks, brass tea kettles and dabbas, tin boxes, locks and old paraphernalia, barni glass jars filled with nankatais and typical bakery items sold by the piece on the cash counter and bric a brac complete the old-world charm. Singh says, “We have also introduced a juke box in the bar area so people can have a great selection of retro music to choose from.”

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Puneet Garg

One of the major challenges is to design the outdoor spaces. The furniture not only needs to be in sync with the theme of the hotel but bear the outdoor atmosphere as well. Puneet Garg, managing director, GEBE India, mentions, “A decade ago, wooden furniture was in use but it required a lot of maintenance. Specially in case of outdoor furniture, it becomes important to check the durability of the product as well. Usually outdoor furniture would have to be moved to avoid the sun as it would affect the durability of the product.”  Later, cast iron furniture solved some of these problems.

Nowadays more hotels and cafes are shifting to wicker furniture for outdoors. It is a combination of real wicker and poly resin materials that hold up the rigours of outdoor use and unpredictable weather conditions. Wicker comes in a variety of price points. It is strong, lightweight, and comfortable and comes in a wide variety of styles of colours as well. Garg adds, “Wicker is a hot selling property today as it is durable and comes in a lot of varieties starting from sofa sets, bar furniture, day beds, dining furniture, easy chairs, loungers, designer planters, tea chairs and outdoor swings. The furniture is not only durable but adds a sophisticated look to the place.”

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Suresh Mansukhani

There has also been a shift from granite floors to wooden flooring. Junckers, a Denmark – based wooden flooring brand has already worked on Indian projects like Prime Minister’s House, Parliament House, North and South Blocks, BSNL and NDMC Buildings in Delhi. In the hospitality sector, Junckers has covered JW Marriott both in Bengaluru and Mumbai, Le Meridien – New Delhi, Radisson, The Taj Group, ITC Group and many others. Talking about the changing trends in the flooring of hotels and restaurants Suresh Mansukhani, country manager, Junckers, informs, “We have seen an increasing number of hotels coming forward to adopt wooden flooring. In fact, Some of the properties like Le Meridien has been using the concept for past 10 years. People have started liking wooden flooring a lot since it gives a completely  different look to the room. Therefore, the laminated, hard wood and solid wood flooring is replacing  marble.”

20160831eh36He adds, “Most of the hotels would use it in rooms, certain parts of lobby or the dining area. But now with better flooring options some hotels have increased their usage and also shifted to using the wooden floors in their spa areas and gym. But this mainly depends on the budget and what outlook they plan to give to the hotel. Wooden flooring gives out very classic and fine look to the floors. Another environmental factor is that in the summer months the floor feels cool while in the winter months it is warm. The cost is also comparatively lower than high – end Italian marble or granite.”

For the new age traveller

It is considered a challenge to design for the constantly on-the-go traveller as the parameters are quite different from the rest. “Minimal quantum of space with lot of packed elements that come with it and still not being clustered is important in terms of criteria. A little playful and a little sober is an eclectic mix that is required to create spaces for this segment, unlike the other categories. Today’s client/ customer is demanding, the order of the day being, value – for – money. There is a lot of effort from hotel owners to stuff in as much possible in the roomscape to make the customer feel like a king. Freebies and complimentary entities are being showered without a second thought. A good interior design that enhances one’s mood and frame of mind is what is on the mind of a hotel owner today. Quick on-the-call services is another area of utmost importance when it comes to customer satisfaction. These factors combined together crack the whip when it comes to good interiors,” Chandran adds.

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Ansari informs that along with the increase in hotels that have tech savvy features, many hotels are also building on their fitness models so as to cater to individual needs of new age travellers who are becoming extremely health conscious. “Aloft offers both of these facilities in design-savvy spaces that global travellers demand. We also have the fashion and brand conscious travellers who yearn for that extra touch of luxury for their satisfaction. Modern travellers also include those in touch with nature and the importance of sustainability in terms of energy and emission,” he mentions.

From green furniture to personalised spaces, local art to techno designs the interiors designers are creating an enriching experience for the visitors who are looking for a change.

(With inputs from Reema Lokesh)

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