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New Brands On The Block

(January / February 2017) posted on Sun Feb 19, 2017

Crafting the look behind today’s chicest just-launched flags means leading, not following. Three buzzy brands offer a master class.

By Oriana Lerner

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Show and tell. That’s the memo for any designer trying to capture the attention of the “millennial-minded” guest who’s become the avatar for lifestyle hotel lovers across the globe. They’re not brand loyal, and their idea of great design is design they like. Period. There’s no point trying to chase after what they like, so designers need to take the risks to play visual concierge and come up with a look guests don’t even know they want—yet. Here’s how, according to the brands that are going there and doing that.

Walking on the dark side in JO&JOE's Together room proves black walls aren't just for theaters. Image: Courtesy of AccorHotels/JO&JOE

Hyatt Centric

There’s a long lineage of major chains wanting—and getting—into the lifestyle sector. They’ve taken the best of the edge independent hotels offer and married it to the conveniences of loyalty programs, brand recognition and business-travel-friendly meeting spaces.

Books play the role of art pieces in Hyatt Centric Montevideo. Circular tables offer contrasting curves. Image: Luis Zaffaroni

Those are the now just the checklist of musts. What’s news for 2017 is the look. Wow styling is a given, but what’s wow to guests at a city-center hotspot like a Hyatt Centric (which currently consists of 13 locales, with several more in its pipeline, though details were unavailable at press time) is neither over-the-top nor overly quiet. Instead, it’s design that works as an inspirational backdrop for their stay, not where the space itself dominates or fails to make them feel at home.

“There’s no kit of parts—no asymmetrical table, for example—that defines the Centric DNA,” says Mari Balestrazzi, vice president, Americas Design Services, Hyatt Hotels Corp. “We have key concepts, like a lobby that serves as a ‘launchpad’ to the destination, but there is no one look. Instead, each hotel reflects its immediate context and neighborhood.”

Mari Balestrazzi, Hyatt Hotels Corp. Photo: Rodolfo Martinez

That puts the onus on the design teams Balestrazzi and her team recruit to offer a concrete take on that philosophy. Regardless of the materials palette, the design has to be a GPS, giving guests the visual lowdown on both the hotel and the city.

Centric Montevideo's spa gets a serene boost from neutral tones. Mixing materials adds interest. Image: Luis Zaffaroni


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