Social distancing is set to stay for the foreseeable future and as designers we will have to adapt to this, particularly within hotel restaurant and bars. We won’t see crammed spaces anytime soon – therefore the dynamic of design will be integral in allowing such spaces to function again. Buffets are tipped to disappear as well. We will need to creatively optimise these areas to avoid being restricted to only 30% capacity, which makes no sense for any business model.
The typical clientele of high-end hotels are also likely to emphasise privacy. It would not be surprising to see role of the hotel lobby – traditionally the place to be seen in iconic hotels and more recently in which to work and relax – becoming more of a passageway as new technologies promote digital check-in and concierge. More exclusive and individualised experience will see guests check-in directly in the guest room.
Sustainability, which has been pervasive for some time now, will no longer be a trend – rather a demand of being built for quality and longevity. I am currently designing the public areas of a hotel which first opened over 100 years ago. Our aim is to have every single element of the design manufactured or supplied locally. This is because, in addition to celebrating local craft and knowledge, it avoids an unnecessary impact on the environment due to importing from overseas.
Historically, some of the best examples of design have come out of a challenging set of requirements, and our present-day challenges offer exciting opportunities for designers to tackle. We are creators and therefore need to innovate. As a hospitality interior designer, I have always put an emphasis on the guest experience. Driven by the pandemic, hygiene, social distancing, privacy and sustainability will challenge me to reinvent this experience yet again, so that these iconic hotels remain these sanctuaries of escapism for the generations to come.
David T'Kint is principle of HBA EMEA, a global design practice behind the interior identities of luxury brands, boutique hotels, spas, residences, restaurants and casinos.
Learn more about the impacts of Covid-19 on the Travel & Hospitality sectors.