Achieving an Authentic Venue, Through Integrated Design
By Manuela Bravo-Smith Senior Designer - Hospitality, Carrier Johnson + Culture | November 27, 2016
Sameness was once considered a virtue in the hospitality industry. Travelers were believed to crave predictability, which seemed to dovetail with the desire of larger hospitality groups to establish a recognizable brand. This was correct to some degree: a certain segment of the market prefer to take no chances with a hotel stay, and therefore place a premium on familiarity and having expectations met. But the industry has begun to swing away from this paradigm, recognizing that travelers also love a find: a unique experience or destination that offers newness and variety. Even owners and developers of bigger properties and major chains have begun to look for ways to craft boutique-style experiences for visitors who value something unique and unexpected.
However, crafting a unique experience is easier said than done. It takes more than some local-themed kitsch to make a venue memorable. Good design will combine aesthetics, comfort, and function with peculiarity-that is to say, uniqueness. And the key to succeeding with this recipe is an experienced design team with an integrated design process.
For those not familiar with the term, integrated design describes a multi-disciplinary approach that brings experienced team members together under one roof to contribute their expertise in distinct elements of the process. At Carrier Johnson + CULTURE, for example, those disciplines include (but are not limited to) architecture, interior design, planning, urban design, and branding. The integrated design approach begins with client-centered organizational strategy sessions that set out to identify aesthetic and market goals for the planned venue. From these sessions emerges a central design concept from which a set of consistent design ideas are extracted, to be applied across all aspects of the project.
The integrated design approach often leads to high-impact design innovation, certainly for hospitality sector projects but also for most every building type. Increased engagement with clients and key stakeholders helps us to reveal the particular culture to be infused into the project. It is that culture which brings depth, and therefore authenticity, to the design concept.
We should also note here that the project location is a critical factor in this process. Establishing a concept and foundational requirements based in the context of the project site and its surroundings will buttress any subsequent design and practical choices. The degree to which the architectural and cultural context inform the design team's thinking and decision-making-and thereby the concept outcome-cannot be easily overstated. More subtle but nevertheless important is the influence of location on the availability of certain materials and skilled trades. As integral parts of the living fabric of the location, available resources will have already influenced the local design landscape for decades, even centuries. Experienced practitioners of integrated design will find ways to ensure that the concept benefits from the location by adapting to the surrounding milieu whenever it is possible to do so efficiently and sustainably.
Context is Key