ITB 2023 Special Reporting
The Rise of Artisan Furniture
By Beachwood Custom
Tuesday, 14th May 2019

Boutique and other premium hotels are finding that nothing says luxury, local and sustainable better than custom-designed, hand-made furniture.

The hotel industry is fiercely competitive. There are so many choices among hotels, especially when considering the added competition from non-traditional sources like Airbnb and vacation rentals. It’s essential to distinguish your brand inside and out. To stand apart, many boutique hotels - and even some big chains - are choosing artisan and custom furniture.

Uniqueness trumps uniformity

In past centuries, every piece of furniture in a hotel was custom-made by skilled artisans. Names like Chippendale, Sheraton, and Hepplewhite were standard.

Mass production did not reach the U.S. furniture industry until the 1920s, but the real change for the hotel industry came in the 1950s as rising incomes and Eisenhauer’s interstate highway system made it possible for millions of Americans to consistently vacation away from home for the first time. To ensure Americans would embrace this new lifestyle choice, industry pioneers knew they had to provide a consistent and affordable experience regardless of location. To keep costs down, they opted for uniform designs that included guest rooms with custom-designed, but mass-produced furniture.

While this cookie-cutter approach served many segments of the industry well for decades, it has lost appeal since the turn of the 21st century. In the Experience Economy, even budget travelers may favor lodging options providing a unique experience and connects guests to their destination in an authentic way. This preference for uniqueness over uniformity has led to renewed interest in custom-designed furniture, but also hand-crafted, or “artisanal” furniture across the luxury hotel space.

Cowhide benches and driftwood tables

The newly redesigned Hotel Healdsburg in California features “locally-made furniture, including custom cowhide benches, rustic harbor-recycled wood bedside tables, luxurious silk and wool rugs, and textured slipcovered linen chairs,” according to Pure Luxury Transportation.

Custom furniture is often featured in the lobby, restaurant, and outdoor areas, including crescent-shaped sofas and reclaimed lumber tables in the lobby, teak and mesh chaises and tables around the pool, and even custom-designed dishes.

Practical luxury

One of the best advantages of custom-designed furniture, of course, is that it can be designed to fit a specific space. Customization comes in very handy at a time when rising real estate costs are incentivizing hoteliers to downsize guest rooms. The right furniture and furnishing can make any space look spectacular.

Luxury and premier hotels are also using custom-designed furniture to align with other influential trends, including personalization and sustainability.

Keeping it personal

Many aspects of the guest experience are becoming more personalized thanks to Big data and smart technology. Hotels can now track guest preferences and customize their services accordingly. For instance, if a guest prefers a particular type of pillow, that information can be stored in a database and brought up the next time that guests books a room.

Hotel furniture and décor is riding the same trend. As we discussed in our recent article on open-plan bathroom designs, furniture and fixture design can help the guest connect with the locale they are visiting, while also making them feel at home.

Today’s Hotelier notes the example of a historic Seattle hotel that used colorful, sleek sofas with gel-infused memory foam mattresses, so guests felt they were staying in a luxurious historic home.

“A hotel in Austin, Texas, showed their state pride by providing options in rich, durable hide,” notes the site. “A resort in Jackson Hole had a unique rustic feel, so they chose sleepers in chocolate brown leather to make guests feel at home.”

Going green

Custom furniture can significantly reduce a hotel’s environmental impact without causing guest discomfort. Thanks in part to global sourcing, furniture and décor can be made from renewable resources like bamboo or reclaimed wood and other recycled materials as well as non-toxic paints/glues/stains and eco-friendly fabrics.

Whether your designs are inspired by local history and art, your commitment to sustainability or the dimensions of a room, Beachwood Custom can find the materials and manufacturers you need to bring your vision to life.

Contact the Beachwood Custom team today to learn more.

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