A stripped-down industrial gallery space in Berlin’s Mitte area was the appropriate setting for the fifth Design Hotels Future Forum. For two days in October, an intriguing band of architects, designers, artists, journalists, hoteliers and even a bulldog gathered to envisage what the future holds for travel.

As falling leaves swirled in the air outside, our convivial host Claus Sendlinger, founder and CEO of Design Hotels, led the forum, the theme of which was human design. A gathering of personalities including US industrial designer Stephen Burks and The Future Laboratory’s Chris Sanderson explored and re-interpreted the relationship between us and the objects with which we surround ourselves.

Today and tomorrow: four future trends

Design directions

Designers will embrace a future formed by new aesthetics including “fortification”, “in relief” and “new seriousness”. Of the most importance to hotel designers will be fortification, where protection, adaptability and function are placed above frivolity and embellishment, reflecting global concerns of material shortages, recession, terrorism and social upheaval.

Tough times can still inspire beautiful design.

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The further blurring of business and leisure has created a concept coined by The Future Laboratory; bleisure. A growing number of 21st century hotel guests see no distinction between work and play, and expect the places where they stay to service their highly adaptable lifestyles.

Hotels are now the between spaces where lifestyles need to connect. Boutique design hotels have become the new business hotels, which in turn bring the culture of their host city directly to guests.

For business hotel the Clarion in Stockholm, the lobby is an occasional art gallery.


By 2020, women will run 53% of leading businesses, boost national GDPs by up to 16% and will earn more than men. Women are coming to the fore in the world, ushering in a new era called womenomics.

For designers this means a new sensibility that is more intuitive.

Food spaces

From deluxe canteens to cooking laboratories, a new social food culture has emerged. As fast-moving gourmet food becomes more popular, restaurant culture is being given an overhaul.

New restaurant spaces are designed to encourage interaction and provide convenience, yet be efficient and elegant. The eating experience is communal and encourages the shared starter or the collective plate, reflecting the evolution of a more personal relationship with food.

“Unique eating experiences are now emerging out of the periphery .”

Unique eating experiences are now emerging out of the periphery thanks to a new generation of eating designers, such as Marije Vogelzang, who gave the Future Forum an extraordinary introduction to her work and that of her design and catering company Proeff (meaning “to taste” and “to test”) based in Rotterdam.

Vogelzang does not only shape food, but creates narratives to explain why a dish tastes the way it does, where it comes from, who made it and why you are eating it. Vogelzang whet appetites for a surreal dinner experience that evening – a cooking art performance by the Foodists, the brainchild of designer Telse Bus and chef Martin Schanninger.