PSFK has partnered with real-estate crowdfunding company Prodigy Network to crowdsource the designs for their most recent project 17John, an innovative hotel in the heart of New York City’s Financial District. This series of articles provides inspiration for readers wishing to be a part of the project and join the crowd in designing the first Cotel.
The excitement that comes with travel is invariably saddled by certain stresses. Difficulty sleeping caused by an unfamiliar environment, the distractions of other guests and being away from loved ones for an extended period of time can all take their toll. The very idea of returning from a business trip feeling more rested, relaxed and restored may seem like an impossibility, but this scenario presents opportunities for change. A combination of smart design thinking and integration of technology could transform the guest room into a much-needed oasis amidst the sped up pace of urban life and a full travel itinerary.
At a topline level, we’re seeing designers begin to re-imagine physical environments as platforms for incorporating elements of balance, health, and well-being into people’s lives. One example of this is the Saratech Permasorb Wallpaper, which captures harmful airborne toxins and alleviates ‘sick room syndrome’ by continuously purifying indoor air. Developed by German carbon absorption company Blücher Technologies, the wallpaper serves as a retrofitting alternative that uses spherical polymers embedded throughout its surface to not only clean the air, but eliminate odors as well. Similarly, for hotels catering to travelers during an extended period of time, the kitchen area could be revamped as a place to inject healthiness and well-being. For example, Greenhood is a kitchen range hood that eliminates odors while sanitizing the air around it by using a technology similar to those found in ionizing air-purifiers. As the ingenuity driving these solutions brings them to market at scale, hotels could implement them without requiring a costly infrastructure reboot or compromising on the overall design. A subtle touch here or there, could make all the difference.
To ensure a peaceful environment that controls noise levels both within and from outside a space, products and decor could begin incorporating soundproofing technologies and materials. One example of this is the Feltone blind, a sound-absorbing window blind for the living room or bedroom created by Japan-based Tokyo Blinds. The blinds are 90% less expensive than comparable soundproof panels, while retaining the look and function of conventional blinds. When subtly deployed as with the above example, these designs help dampen the flow and intensity of sound to create the conditions for a good night’s rest or focused workspace.
As a guest’s needs shift throughout the day from work to play to sleep, the physical design and furnishings deployed within their living spaces should become flexible as well. Sliding space-saving furnishings, which are instantly collapsible or configurable allow for people to quickly repurpose their living space based on their immediate needs. A renovation at the Los Andes apartment complex in Buenos Aires, Argentina, shows how this might function. The layout features a central room divisible into private rooms by an adjustable partition artfully repurposed as a bookshelf. The concept includes a sliding library that allows for one general living room, while creating two smaller rooms on demand. The customizable aspects of this design enable dwellers to fit their home around their needs, rather than compromising on their lifestyle choices. Its flexible, space saving design could be especially useful during an extended stay where guests may see their needs evolve over the course of a few days or even weeks.
Technology may also play a role in mitigating some of the ill effects of travel, like the all too familiar feeling of jet-lag, which are enough to wear on even the most seasoned traveler. Responding to this, Delta Airlines along with New York ad agency Wieden + Kennedy consulted sleep expert Dr. Russell Foster to create the Photon Shower. The working prototype features a chamber that explores how light can be used to realign a traveler’s biological clock after long flights across multiple time zones. Travelers simply input their flight information into the Photon Shower and it will adjust for their individual needs based on flight times, providing a light sequence that recreates the effects of sunlight to alleviate jet lag and provide a pick-me-up for tired travelers.
By seeing the challenges of business travel as opportunities for innovation, rather than frustrating obstacles, hotels are better positioned to design holistic experiences for their guests, while empowering them to customize their stay around their specific set of needs. Emerging technologies and material choices can promote feelings of comfort, restoration, and well being to truly create a home away from home that guests will remember and return to time and again. Leveraging these innovations, it may turn out that creating an ideal home away from home is closer to reality for the extended stay traveler than ever before. As we look to the future, there are even greater opportunities for properties designed as extended stay residences versus the traditional hotel to leverage these trends and provide guests with this restful, rejuvenating experience.
Contributed by Tim Ryan.
These challenges to an efficient yet enriching travel experience should provide inspiration for design teams looking to participate in the competition to create the first Cotel in New York City.
Prodigy Network is known as a pioneer in crowdfunding for real estate. In 2009—after more than 29 projects—Prodigy Network developed an innovative investment model for crowdfunding in real estate, becoming the world’s leading platform in the field. By doing so, Prodigy introduced a way of democratizing investment opportunities for large-scale projects. Prodigy Network believes that community and transparency are essential to success in real estate.