Following the spectacular furniture and lighting launches in Milan in the spring, designers turned their attention to the UK’s capital in autumn for the London Design Festival.
From 21 to 24 September, 100% Design promoted contemporary brands at Earl’s Court as well as at various satellite shows around London. Hot on its heels came Decorex (24 to 27 September), which featured a dedicated section, Hotel@Decorex, showcasing what’s hot in luxury hospitality interiors.
FINE AND DANDY
According to Ian Thompson, Decorex’s managing director: "Glamour is in this year, but it’s a chic and luxurious version." The look is all about extravagant details, and the Arman Suite, part of the Hotel Lutetia on Paris’s left bank, is a case in point, epitomising the fashion for dandyish interiors.
The suite comprises two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a large sitting room. It has been recently refurbished to reflect the work and exotic tastes of early 20th-century sculptor Arman.
A dramatic entrance features a black carpet encrusted with optical fibres, and in one bedroom a blonde maple violin-shaped headboard, cello-shaped chairs and glass tables supported by stringed instruments reflect Arman’s love of music. The other bedroom has a flamboyant purple colour scheme and is filled with African objets d’art.
For those looking to create this look, try the Smoke chair by Moooi with its button detailing or the colourful chandeliers from French firm Merry Crystal.
As James Mair, managing director for London-based furniture showroom Viaduct, comments: "The addition of more decorative furniture simply adds individuality and interest to a space."
THE WONDER OF WOOD
Natural materials remain a big influence on hotel furnishings from lobby areas to bedrooms. At the new 311-room Concorde Hotel on Berlin’s bustling Kufürstendamm, the limestone façade provides a striking contrast to the interior.
"It was important to keep the colours quite neutral," explains architect Jan Kleihues, who coordinated the scheme inside and out.
"For me, one of the key materials was chestnut, which is used for the custom-built furniture in the bedrooms and meeting rooms." Walnut and smoked oak were also used for the reception areas, including the partition through to the cosy Lutece bar.
Colour is added in the form of deep red upholstery and carpets in the restaurant and the striped green carpet, which helps guests find their way around the hotel’s conference facilities. The silver leaf ceiling, designed to conceal the sophisticated lighting, adds a touch of delicate glamour.
Jan Cavelle, managing director of Decorex exhibitor Jan Cavelle Furniture, concurs with this trend for wood, adding: "There is a huge demand for exciting timbers that have striking and unusual grains and colours, such as wenge and bubinga."
Solid Floor launched a number of new styles at 100% Design, including oak-oiled cherry flooring, which adds a feeling of warmth and cosiness to a hotel bedroom or reception area.
The Deer chair by Turkish firm Autoban, made of plywood birch, is a contemporary classic suitable for dining areas, as is SCP’s Avery chair, a surprisingly lightweight model made from dark-stained solid oak.
Another example is the Pym pedestal table, made of solid ash, which has been designed by Russell Pinch for new British firm Case. The table is part of a collection of pared-down furniture silhouettes using various woods, which launched earlier this year.
Also in the Case collection, the West St chair by Robin Day is available in solid oak or walnut with upholstered leather pads.
Leather is increasingly making an appearance on walls as well as upholstery to create a seamless finish in hotel dining areas. David Collins, for instance, is planning to use leather and suede as part of a tone-on-tone architectural approach with bevelled glass and plaster mouldings for the refurbishment of the bar and restaurant of London’s Langham Hotel.
BIG IS BEAUTIFUL
Public areas continue to be popular interior playgrounds for designers. Tony Chi has designed a large, airy, Zen-like reception area for the InterContinental in Geneva while Turkey’s newly opened Adam and Eve Hotel has the largest lounge in the world. Measuring 10,000m2, it includes shops, bars and restaurants as well as a huge ballroom and conference facilities.
To make a statement in such a big space requires large-scale furniture. The Pinstripe sofa and pouffe by Swedish designer Monica Förster, part of a new range by Tacchini, is a good choice. It is available in lengths of up to 260cm and is upholstered in a striking linear pattern.
Also part of the Italian manufacturer’s collection is the imposing South Beach chair by Christophe Pillet, which is made of curved, solid strips of birch.
Alternatively the Drift bench from Established and Sons is another oversized piece, this time constructed from glass-reinforced plastic with either a high-gloss finish or a concrete skin. It is the brainchild of Amanda Levete, principal with award-winning architects Future Systems.
Andrew Cotgrove of Loomah is predicting that carpets in the hotel sector are set to be: "bold and bright, verging on the garish. Pattern is back after five years of subdued neutrals."
Conversely, David Afia from fellow Decorex exhibitor Stark Carpets believes that "texture rather than pattern is an emerging trend". At Gilpin Lodge in Cumbria in the north west of England, Stark refreshed an old tartan-style design using bright colours.
Afia adds: "Wall-to-wall carpets are replacing wood flooring in smaller boutique hotels as visitors expect more comfort and a sensuous style."
Stephan Oberwegner, design director with interior design practice Max Bentheim, adds: "I like hotels to be laid back and calming, and for flooring I prefer matt surfaces, such as limestone and marble."
Oberwegner used a limestone mosaic for the floors and walls of the Redruthian Steps hotel in Cornwall, a refurbishment of a 1960s building, to contrast with the black terrazzo used in the bar.
BOLD COLOURS AND NEW SHAPES
"Deep gloss colours are immensely popular," observes Jan Cavelle. "We think in the next year or so there will be more and more demand for highly contemporary pieces in strong shades." To this end, her firm is launching the Epcot chair, suitable for bar and restaurant areas.
Meanwhile, French manufacturer Ligne Roset has launched the Jul and Jil chairs, upholstered in striking shades of fuchsia and lime, as well as the modular table system, Translation, both of which would work well in giving accent colours to otherwise neutral reception areas. This can also be achieved in the bedroom by using soft furnishings, such as cushions and throws.
Laura Elliott, marketing manager for the Boutique Linen Company, whose clients include Brown’s Hotel and Claridges, says: "A classic weave can look fabulous in a hot colour, such as orange, or lime green, which are great accents to white bed linen and also work well with light or dark wood."
Golden Tulip has also taken this approach to its new Tulip Inns across the UK, adding a contemporary design touch with warm shades of lilac and terracotta replicated across bed linen and bedroom furnishings.
Designers are also playing with shapes. In Drawn to the Light, Scabetti has taken a light-hearted approach with his spaceship-like pendants while Michael Marriott has designed a low table for Established and Sons that, with its four turned wooden legs supporting a glass tabletop, resembles a game of skittles.
Meanwhile, Matthew Hilton has played with the relative scale of the elements that make up his classic Buffalo armchair for SCP, exaggerating the ears and mouth to create an unusual form.
LET THERE BE LIGHT
Kristina Griffith of lighting manufacturer Kolarz believes that lighting is better appreciated now. "There is certainly a much stronger recognition that lighting is a key element in achieving a desired feel or design, and clear trends include dramatic, Russian-inspired opulence using a lot of crystal and creating a real wow factor with coloured materials such as Murano glass."
Joe Zito, manager of lighting installation specialists Spina, which has worked on a number of high-end hotel chain projects, adds that: "Shapes are traditional with an added edge. In 2007, lighting sees ovals and rectangles taking centre stage simply because they engage the eye longer, adding a further dimension of interest."
This year will see the inaugural 100% Light, which will put the contract lighting sector firmly under the spotlight. Leading the way is Conciluce, which is launching a series of chandeliers – perfect for adding drama to a double- or triple-height atrium space. The popularity of the chandelier continues apace with Bsweden exhibiting a range of understated elegance.
During the coming months, architects, designers and specifiers should certainly be inspired by the exciting launches in contract furniture, lighting and flooring which can be used as the defining feature in a design-led hotel interior.