Big-brand flags in this sector are borrowing a page from their boutique brethren to up their design ante.
By Matthew Hall
Further reinforcing that local flavor are visual references to sunsets over the Pacific Ocean and LA’s set of skyscrapers in both the public spaces and guest rooms of the hotel, which is housed in a building designed by architecture firm Leo A Daly. “Throughout the hotel, guests encounter warm pops of color inspired by SoCal sunsets, along with a curated selection of vivid and vibrant art that depict the city’s skyline in an abstract way,” says Puccini designer Jocelyn Ramos.
Puccini Group designers sweetened the Cambria hotel's public areas with eye candy underfoot, in the form of patterned carpets, and overhead, with a series of hanging geometric light fixtures. Photo: Courtesy of Puccini Group
The Choice Hotels property’s proximity to LAX also receives nods in the design. For example, the entry experience includes a curved front desk made of precast concrete that’s paired with pendant lights inspired by aviation maps.
Jocelyn Ramos, Puccini Group. Photo: Courtesy of Puccini Group
The guest rooms, meantime, are laid out with separate sleeping and relaxation areas, and populated with such amenities as platform beds, loungers and spa-like baths. “Each room also features a graphic wall which serves as the focal point and base from which the room’s colors were pulled,” says Fu. “By balancing the graphic walls and playful artwork with clean-line furniture, we were able to achieve a youthful and fun aesthetic in the rooms that’s designed to appeal to the hotel’s target market of ‘modern pioneers.’”
Hotel JAL City Haneda Tokyo West Wing
This is another hotel seeking to make its proximity to an airport a plus rather than a minus. Located a 10-minute drive from Japan’s Haneda Airport, this 103-key hotel was built with an eye toward accommodating the upcoming deluge of visitors expected for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics in and around the Japanese capital.
The old and the new intermingle in the lobby of the Hotel JAL City Haneda, with a floor graphic of the nearby airport's runways and walls inspired by Tokyo's traditional alleyways. Photo: Courtesy of Hotel JAL City
Winning a design competition to create the interiors for the Hotel JAL City Haneda Tokyo West Wing was Gensler’s Tokyo office, whose team created a design concept titled “J-SELECT” for it. “The letter ‘J’ stands for both Japan and the Hotel JAL City brand, and the design theme symbolizes the unique local touches we chose to use throughout the space,” says Rie Kurokawa, Gensler associate and interior designer.
That starts in the lobby of the property, in the form of a tiled floor bearing a set of lines that represent the airport’s runways. “Those graphics also double as a wayfinding system that immediately engages visitors,” says Kurokawa.
Rie Kurokawa, Gensler. Photo: Courtesy of Gensler
Subdividing the hotel’s public spaces is a series of walls with angled shelving that Kurokawa says was inspired by the traditional alleyways still found in parts of Tokyo. Other visual elements representing cultural touchstones include liberal doses of stucco and rice paper. Serving as a modern counterpoint to those elements are red accents on furniture and signage.
The guest rooms at the Gensler-designed hotel feature signature red accents similar to those found throughout the property, and headboard walls bearing large-scale prints of nearby scenes. Photo: Courtesy of Hotel JAL City
Guest rooms continue the cultural-immersion experience, thanks to such features as carpets bearing traditional Japanese motifs, bedding made from folk textiles and large-scale prints of nearby landscapes and cityscapes on the headboard walls. The result, the designer says, is a hotel that “provides travelers with a truly one-of-a-kind stay by celebrating Japanese culture.”
As this quartet of case studies clearly shows, the move by more and more mid-tier brands to establish statement-making visual identities for their locales has made this sector the scene of lots of creative action within the hotel industry—and that, in turn, should serve as a source of celebration for designers seeking to work in it.
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