A New Age of Interiors

28th January 2007 (Last Updated January 28th, 2007 18:30)

Bold and innovative concepts are the order of the day among designers working in the hospitality sector. Ideas showcased recently show that interiors can do far more than blend with a hotel’s brand, and there is a new willingness to let innovative ideas hold sway.

A New Age of Interiors

Interior design for hotels has always finely balanced the operator’s commercial needs with the designer’s dreams. Tension between the artistic and the practical produces some outstanding developments, but also means compromise on some
daring designs. There are signs, however, that the luxury market is now prepared to make bolder choices.

The 2006 International Hospitality Exhibition, held at Rimini Fiera, showcased many smart, stylish and innovative designs, some of which push interior design concepts to new heights. These striking new styles show there is now more scope for
designers to explore groundbreaking ideas.

“There are two categories of clients – those who look for continuity and a safe approach to design and another group, which is growing, who want to look at new opportunities through interior design,” notes renowned designer Marco Piva.

INNOVATION AND FREEDOM

Piva’s work spans hotels, tourist villages, congress centres, meeting halls, exhibition galleries, theme exhibitions and urban landscapes. Recent work includes hotel projects in ultra-modern cities like Dubai and more traditional urban
environments in Europe. Nevertheless, he finds that in both settings there is a growing appetite for innovative concepts.

“Every project is linked to the location, the architecture, the city in which the hotel stands. My experience after three years of intense activity in Dubai is that there is new experimental architecture – not all of it high quality, but there
is certainly innovation there. It is an artificial place, so you can propose new concepts, not just traditional styles,” notes Piva.

“But then I also did a small project in Bologna, one of the oldest cities in Italy, where I wanted to tell a different story about travel on each floor. We covered Western, Indian and Islamic traditions, for example, which we achieved through graphics
and lettering. All clients want to be different and include specialist elements,” he adds.

Well-known Italian designer Marcello Ceccaroli sees more room for innovation, but feels designers could still have more freedom.

“The hotel sector in its design phase is in continual evolution. As designers we can experiment with new directions and create new emotions for the visitor. Unfortunately, not all commissions allow you to develop new ideas. Often clients rely on
designers who have never designed a hotel, which creates great confusion and, above all, an enormous waste of money,” says Ceccaroli.

Where there is an appetite for bold, new designs it seems to extend from large concepts down to the small details of fixtures and fittings. Design house Zucchetti Rubinetterie, for instance, sees changing attitudes towards its ranges of bathroom
taps.

“Until recently, the main requirements needed in a tap for the hospitality sector were functionality, reliability and soundness. Nowadays, the situation has changed. The bathroom has assumed great importance, especially for hotels. Architects and
customers want products that are able to give personalised solutions that characterise each bathroom and have an emotional impact,” says Marco Zucchetti.

DARING DESIGNS

Among the many notable designs at the exhibition was Piva’s ‘The Luxury Shell’, which surrounds the interior of the room with projected images of water and sealife, creating a unique and enticing space.

“We wanted to use water as an architectural element. The result is like a room that is underwater, creating a sense of tranquility, isolation, meditation. Water is shown all around the room on big screens, which gives the feeling of being in contact
with nature through water, light and movement,” says Piva.

The interior places less emphasis on furnishings than on the visual impact of the images and colours. The bed almost becomes like a boat floating on the sea.

“Innovative solutions for features and details can make all the difference to forward-thinking designs.”

“The emotional elements come from the colours and the movement, which give a sense of suspended time. The sense of luxury comes from the space, not the objects in the room. Luxury is just a state of mind,” says Piva.

Part of the design’s effect derives from the use of lights designed by Zonca SpA, whose lighting already graces some of Italy’s most beautiful hotel interiors. The company’s ‘Medusa’ light plays a key part in creating the
Luxury Shell’s mood.

In a similar vein is Ceccaroli’s ‘The Sky in a Room’, another stunning interior where a bed that seems to float over an image of the Earth is surrounded with an area of blackness, punctuated dramatically by a multitude of stars. The
aim is to achieve a sense of profundity, contemplation and relaxation.

“It is a hi-tech room without the normal traditions, which makes you reflect almost viscerally about the many whys and wherefores of the universe. The idea is to highlight the cosmos as the most important element so the central bed that rests on the
world is like an umbilical cord binding us for future explorations to bring us well-being and, above all, peace,” says Ceccaroli.

The ‘Sweetsuite’, from Daniele Menichini’s architecture studio, looked at wildly luxurious design ideas for the interior of contemporary hotels, encompassing the latest in the studio’s research into materials and concepts that
could shape the future of hotel interior design.

Among the notable elements in the Sweetsuite are a number of features from Zucchetti Rubinetterie, which focus on high-quality taps and bathroom fittings. Such innovative solutions for features and details can make all the difference to
forward-thinking designs.

“Our latest collections of taps have been created with the support of the best Italian designers – Bellagio designed by Matteo Thun with Antonio Rodriguez, Pan and Soft by Ludovica and Roberto Palomba, and Aguablu by Barbara Sordina. Every
collection has a huge range of items in order to satisfy any possible request, even for the most common product – the basin mixer,” notes Zucchetti.

“Simple but never ordinary, the world of Zucchetti is tied to daily experience where quality, space and colours are special. Over 75 years of experience have taught us that you can make every moment of our lives special. We feel that even the
simplest, seemingly banal act of using a tap can embody strength and character within,” he adds.

Even from these few examples it is clear that designers are eager to push the envelope in terms of what hotels can achieve with their interiors and, it seems, hotel operators are ever more willing to embrace such ideas.