Hotels Are Embracing Localized Designs To Amplify Their Narrative
Beatrice Girelli, founder of Indidesign, explains how 'umbrella brands' in the hospitality industry benefit from adopting a city's architecture
Brands like the Ace Hotel have touted the benefits of localized and neighborhood-minded design for a long time. PSFK chatted with Beatrice Girelli, founder of Indidesign, about this shift toward context-aware design in the hospitality world. Girelli’s studio in Southern California servicing The Palace Hotel in SF, Hyatt and Hilton globally (to mention a few) specializes in luxury hospitality design and commercial interiors. Girelli’s illustrious background includes some 20 years of experience in the field of commercial interior architecture and design with new constructions, historical properties, high-rises and smaller boutique properties.
PSFK asked Girelli to clarify the meaning of branding in her field. She explains that branding has a dual meaning when it comes to designing hotels, for example “W” by Starwood or “Canopy” by Hilton. This “umbrella brand” plays with another form of branding: localized architecture that seeks to unlock the DNA of the property itself.
DNA that relates strictly to the essence of each property, base on its history, location, connection to the community, etc. As I mentioned above we try to relate more closely to the specific characteristics of a property to capture and amplify its unique DNA, while still incorporating the foundation elements of the main “umbrella brand” when necessary. We look for opportunities to surprise and cement a unique experience that goes well beyond the “umbrella brand”.
Her work oftentimes incorporates subtle updates and deepening the sophistication of a place. For example, by playing with creative furnishings and introducing a more sophisticated color palette, a lobby can operate to be more like a lounge. She’s a big believer in interactive features and augmented reality.
As critical as a design approach as this all may seem, somewhere along the way, form overcame function “Starchitects,” and cheaper manufacturing, post-modern design came to take prominence. The pendulum seems to be swinging back now with architects and interior designers:
Post modern architecture emerged as a response to the more impersonal and sometimes sterile approach of modern architecture. Unfortunately in most cases the results, although conceptually valuable, did not translate into compelling architectural products and post-modern architecture is regarded to as one of the most controversial movements of contemporary architecture. As a result to this growing uniformity, consumers have started noticing and embracing those projects uniquely conceived outside of corporate parameters.
Moreover, this niche area within hotel design is fairly limited. Usually such properties are part of a more standardized portfolio of properties.
Unfortunately most developers and corporations are solely profit driven and the ability to implement these great and noble goals is generally partially lost and not executed in a compelling manner. Too often the initial mission statement serves purely as a marketing tool. My personal impression is that the only commitment that matter is the commitment to corporate objectives over anything else.