ITB 2024 Special Reporting
The Pandemic has Changed Clients’ Priorities, What This Means For the Future of Interior Design
By Lesha Fernando - Exclusive for 4Hoteliers.com
Monday, 1st August 2022

Exclusive Feature: The pandemic has changed clients’ priorities, and Lesha Fernando, Associate with HBA Dubai reflects on how this affects design briefs and what this means for the future of interior design in Dubai and beyond.

The idea of creating a ‘home away from home’ in hospitality design has long been a trend, and often a signature style for interior design studios and hotel brands. Since the pandemic we have seen a significant acceleration towards a more homely feel from several of our clients. Where luxury once rained supreme, we now see comfort taking priority.

The driving force behind this trend is B’Leisure : Residential familiarity, as frequent travellers spent more time in and working from their homes , they have become accustomed to a more residential and relaxed feel. In addition, Stress Busting the uncertainty and anxiety that the pandemic created means people need to feel more relaxed and settled, even if they are only staying a night or two. Opulence, which has its place, does not always give this feeling and it seems this style is moving toward special occasion stays.

The popular trend of staycations has been a win/win for hoteliers and guests alike, mixing business and leisure often with family requires a more flexible approach to room layouts and services more and more familiar amenities. With loved ones in tow, the public areas are fast becoming the home office space.

But no one wants the ‘student at Starbucks’ look, so careful planning and consideration to tourist guests requires a balanced, careful placement of furniture creating some privacy, perhaps some comfortable chairs, creating space with space, partitioning with screening elements, better Wi-Fi with additional sockets and USB ports installed for the demand. Clever and flexible planning is required, along with some natural elements within the interior or extended to outdoor spaces, which will be the beacon of the design.

As such, we are seeing several hotel clients who have been amping up a more residential and softer style in their designs. Many hotel brands now include this specifically within their brand guidelines – you can see this in many upcoming projects. Home away from home feel, with attention to natural elements are getting the next design frontier.

The incorporation of natural lighting, biophilia, water elements can reduce stress; improve cognitive function; and enhance mood, health, and well-being. It awakens the senses and creates a positive energy within the spaces.

The pandemic also accelerated the desire for sustainability. Regulations are demanding more considerations for this subject. At the same time pandemic brought people closer to the nature and their aspiration towards nature increased. Longevity of the product, product composition and product sources are questioned more and more.

While new buildings are being built, there is now a pressure to keep existing buildings and renovating them. As designers we must be tactful and innovative in order to get the right balance without tearing them down completely and rebuilding. How to leverage much as possible and give maximum impact with minimal material wastage should be the key to the thought process.

Navigating these types of requests can be challenging, hence as designers we need to ensure that our projects both fit the clients’ brief but also have reasonable long-term appeal and maintenance aspect are well thought through. As a leading hospitality /residential design firm HBA benefits from blending our experience across both sectors as the pendulum moves and as design trends change.

Lesha Fernando is an associate with HBA Dubai.

Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA) creates the signature looks of today's luxury brands, independent contemporary boutique hotels, urban resorts spas, world-class residences, restaurants and casinos. From continent to continent, each HBA interior is the result of a unique and sensitive response to location, architecture and client vision. With more than 1,200 designers around the globe in 24 offices in nearly every major city, HBA is a true global company. HBA's international presence, combined with its extensive knowledge of the interior design industry, has facilitated the ability to rewrite the language of design with each new project.


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