Converging worlds

By Constantina Tsoutsikou
November 14, 2019

A hospitality environment can be in a workplace, a shop, a residential development or a conceptual retail showroom says Constantina Tsoutsikou, creative director at HBA London.

Leisure hotels have long traded on an offer of a “home away from home”. In design terms, this means creating an informal, cosy ambience – maybe with eclectic collections of easy chairs, restaurants with open kitchens, shelves lined with books and collections of ephemera and so on. Design that is apparently random but, in reality, very carefully curated.

Perceived wisdom was, however, that this was not a design approach that would work for business hotels, such as the Amadria Park Capital Hotel in Zagreb’s historic city centre which we have recently completed. Yet, as an avid business traveller myself, I knew exactly what I was looking for – anything but corporate – and happily, our client agreed. So we went informal, using colour and texture to counterbalance the original mahogany-clad interiors and introducing pattern and artwork to add vibrancy.

In less than a year, this ‘business hotel’ has become the venue of choice for local gatherings and celebrations and the place to see Instagram influencers as they post from cosy lounge chairs, perched next to business people who are talking over coffee. Far from detracting from the business guest experience, The Capital is proving to have just the vibe they seek – a neighbourhood “home away from home” and a converged experience that breaks down unnecessary barriers between work and play.

Increasingly, convergence is gathering pace, demanding more than the mere coupling of residential and hotel design styles. Now a “hospitality environment” can be in a workplace, a shop, a residential development, or a conceptual retail showroom. Look, for example, at The Audo in Copenhagen, a hybrid space that unites design, work-life, hospitality and community in one. You can shop, find inspiration in the library, stay the night or just chat with friends in the café. It is a place for the international art and design community to meet, collaborate and innovate.

Meanwhile in London, we are involved in a large co-living development at Royal Mail in Nine Elms. Facilities here will include a rooftop pool, top-floor private dining rooms for the residents, a screening room, event spaces and a gym as well as co-working areas and landscaped gardens. We were selected because, as specialist hospitality designers, we offer a guest-centric approach – one that crossfertilises ‘disruptive’ residential developments with new ideas and raises the bar.

Design is now seen as integral to the marketing story as well as to the guest experience. Designing converged spaces isn’t a casual combination of disconnected ideas from various sources. It’s curated, detailed and lovingly styled. It connects people with a place and with neighbours; it is carefully collected to be ‘on brand’ and it is responsive to the values of today’s customers.