Boutique Design Events and Trade Fairs

It’s the start of a new year. So what are you going to do to make the most of it?  Read on to check out what’s on Boutique Design’s 2019 trendwatch.

1.    Wellness. Whether it’s completely personal or intrinsically architectural, more and more people want their lifestyle and the built environments they live with and visit to enhance their health. Every design firm is going to need to become expert in delivering experiences (both in urban hotels and resorts) that appeal to health-seeking travelers.  Why? Because this is a market your clients want.  Just do the math.  According to the nonprofit Global Wellness Institute™’s (GWI), wellness tourism grew from a $563 billion market in 2015 to $639 billion in 2017, or 6.5% annually, more than twice as fast as tourism overall (3.2%). And, its growth is forecast to accelerate even faster through 2022 (7.5% yearly) to reach $919 billion. North America drives the most wellness tourism revenues ($242 billion annually) and Europe the most wellness trips (292 million)—but Asia-Pacific is the eye-opening growth leader, with wellness trips growing a whopping 33% in the last two years, the Institute revealed in a report published last November.  China and India rank #1 and #2 for growth: adding roughly 22 million and 17 million wellness trips respectively from 2015-2017. These are just a few findings from GTW’s new “Global Wellness Tourism Economy” report.  

2.    Genius moments.  No, I’m not talking about Instagrammable design elements. This is about the new focus on being (at least seeming) really, really smart. Maybe that’s why nearly every “lifestyle” hotel has to have a library or some kind of show-off intellectual visual content. Next year, watch for more established establishments to borrow a page from the nerd bars/geek bars that are cropping up to SRO crowds from LA and Las Vegas to NYC. While hotels probably won’t be working to get someone decked out in the perfect C-3PO, their emphasis on creating social spaces could mean fewer TVs, more places to play games, a richer mix of authentic themed memorabilia, places for quiz nights and a few inside jokes—whether the Doctor Who TARDIS-styled bathroom entry at Brooklyn’s Way Station or the figure of (cult TV animated series) “Metalocalypse”’s  William Murderface buried in the bar in Durham, North Caroline’s The Atomic Fern. Like karaoke, these specialty spaces give people the opportunity to be themselves and still connect with guests and locals.

3.    Privacy. The need for personal space or the fiscal means to spend up for destinations with just-for-you accessibility (think private islands) continue to shape luxury design. What’s new is the way this is trickling down into all segments. Even open-plan mid- and upscale lobbies are making room for private meeting rooms, sound-proofed “pods” for private calls or just timeouts and guestrooms with zones delineated by half-walls, slatted screens or shape-shifting furniture. Better acoustics are part of this as well—both on the guest floors of hotels and, more especially in a new wave of restaurants and bars where the art of conversation is being revived.

4.    “Real life” style.  Pattern and color are making a comeback as hotel interiors create a warmer welcome for guests tired of hard-core doses of industrial, minimalist and brutalist buildings. We’re seeing a lot more interiors with plush chairs, sofas that look like sofas rather than art pieces and, generally, more FF&E that invites guests to settle in, not pose for a selfie. 

5.    Mood makers. The various brand and design teams at Marriott Intl. interviewed for the cover story of BD’s January-February issue talked about whether a certain flag was more a day hotel or a night hotel when describing the core design platforms for that brand. That decision will be a key factor in how hotels on the boards now will style themselves for their markets. Designers will have to consider whether guests want the elegant evening sensuality of deep colors and rich fabrics or the energizing atmosphere of light woods and more casual textiles. 

6.    New hot spots. I never thought I’d be saying this, but airport hotels, as a category, are becoming bona fide design destinations. As traffic and property prices make CBDs more challenging for developing and just more hassle for meeting planners with a tight budget and a tighter time frame, airport hotel offers are starting to make more sense (and more money) as places to meet and conduct business. The successful turnarounds of properties such as Krause Sawyer’s work on the New York LaGuardia Airport Marriott or newbuilds such as the Renaissance Atlanta Airport Gateway Hotel designed by Rottet Studio (which earned a finalist nod in the 2018 Gold Key Awards for Excellence in Hotel Design) showcase the kind of blue-sky opportunities to reinvent a once-tired asset class.  Also on the radar for this year: blue-road escapes with insider or interest-related appeal—from wineries with classes and hands-on activities to socially-conscious resorts with community payback and specialized retreats that offer anything from cooking classes to workout classes with celebrity trainers.

7.    Humor and humanizing touches.  In the 2018 Gold Key  competition the judges loved the cheeky “Push for Champagne” button in the Simeone Deary-designed Rosina cocktail bar at The Venetian Las Vegas (which won a Gold Key award in the Best Nightclub category).  Yes, it actually dispenses Champagne. Expect to see more touches like this, as well as more “awwww” moments, like the cushy dog bed near the reception desk in the Park Hyatt Chicago.

For more on how to make the most of 2019, connect with BD via our print issues, online, on social media and at BDwest in Los Angeles in March, Boutique Design New York in November and other events throughout the year.