September 26, 2011
Out on the edge of the Hamptons, there are a couple of small hotels that may be a vision for the future of hospitality.
April 27, 2011
So what makes a hotel stay fun?
There are a lot of ways for a hotel to make your experience memorable. Sometimes, when we don’t take ourselves too seriously, we can elevate an experience and create something worth talking about. The Wildwood Inn is pretty overt (and part of my past life long before FRCH) – and may not be to everyone’s taste. However, fun can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Read more of this post
January 26, 2011
It’s the middle of January, and it’s been extremely cold and snowy here (at least for Cincinnati), so I thought I would see how our favorite hotel companies are willing to entice me for a long weekend away. My wife and I like urban getaways, so I thought that I would check out offers in big US cities. What I found was rather interesting:
Most Brands offer the usual: extra loyalty points, discount breakfasts, a bottle of wine, even the occasional free movie ticket. As many of these offerings are similar, the big differentiater is how they are presented on the corporate website. Kudos to Starwood and Hilton for having incentives that operate across the system.
November 30, 2010 3 Comments
In our work, we often try to infuse our projects with the latest thinking in our industry. In the realm of hospitality, we have introduced regional character and elements of authenticity into every project we do. This idea that a hotel is a reflection of its place can be elusive – but what if the hotel IS the place? What if you can become part of the city – rather than just a visitor.
In Italy, this has happened. Hoteliers have created Albergo diffusos – diffused hotels – in small and midsized towns. The concept is that the rooms and public spaces are scattered throughout the village, yet all the amenities that you would expect from luxury accommodations are present.
Sextantio may be the ultimate expression of this idea. Nestled in an Italian Hilltop, this medieval town has reinvented itself as luxury lodging. The guest experience is absolutely unique, and the concept has caught on. Currently, there are at least 2 dozen Albergo Diffusos in Italy.
Beyond planning a great European vacation, how is this relevant? The concept does not need to be unique to Italy. Imagine an Albergo Diffuso in Brooklyn, or even Cincinnati’s Over The Rhine. Virtually any walkable district with dining and shopping nearby would be a candidate, and has the potential to create an unforgettable experience.
October 28, 2010
In architecture today, Sustainable, Green Building, and LEED are the catchphrases that signify that you or your company “gets it” and has the street credibility to woo a new client. While no one will argue that being wasteful is the way of the future, our clients have come to demand that we critically evaluate anything that costs money. And Green costs money. So what does Green building mean when you pull back from the shelter magazines and HGTV promotions?
A few weeks back, I attended a presentation for Italian Porcelain tile. The representative went through all the usual technical and performance issues, and then came to the part, nowadays the inevitable part, of the conversation that all reps have to include in their presentations:
“And we would like you to know that our product is Very Green. Nothing is more sustainable than a product that comes from the earth, and lasts a lifetime!”
True statement, but let’s think about this for a minute. First off, we use very little extraterrestrial material in our building products, so of the earth can best be described as relative. Secondly, last time I checked, there is a tremendous amount of energy necessary to fire these tiles, and that should be accounted for somewhere. Last, but certainly not least, once these tiles are created 3000 miles away, they must be crated and shipped to our project site.
The real question here is what does this product, or any product, do for the bottom line? Tile is durable, so that’s a plus. Does it help get a LEED certificate on the wall? Maybe, but it’s a very small part of that. Do your guests know that its “Green”? Probably not. Does using this product make the building better than using some other product? Maybe.
When you get down to it, what does make a Green Building? That answer is easy: If it can fulfill its use for a long period of time and be cost effective to operate, you pretty much are Green. Good mechanical systems, a solid exterior envelope, and a form that can be easily adapted to changing needs will trump certificates and snappy materials. Why? Because it saves money. And that’s the green that will never go out of style.
The FRCH offices are as good example of Green building. Take a building built over 100 years ago, put in new mechanical systems, double glazed windows, and refit for use for another 100 years. Efficient, Effective, and affordable.
September 29, 2010
About a year back when I first heard the term “New Normal”, I thought it was a marketing pitch by an economist who was looking to score with a new book. Don’t know how the book deal is going, but the term, and the idea, has certainly caught on. Bling is out – Excess is excess, and we just aren’t looking for so much Stuff anymore.
So what does this mean to the design community and our customers? The New Inquiry provides an academic discussion of how Ikea tells us how we are coming back to our roots; how we can enjoy the simple things. While I think this is all true, there is another thing going on. Ikea is telling us that they provide cheap great design, not great design that happens to be cheap. The shift is subtle, but Ikea lovers will know that low-cost was considered The Bonus, rather than The Substance.
Restoration Hardware has gone down a different path; They touted their new reinvention this past summer. Whether you like the new style or not (Rusty Lux?), it can’t be coincidence that the product line is monochromatic, well used, and familiar. There seems to be no evidence of prices dropping, rather the Look at Me factor has been toned down several notches:
Another rather surprising development comes from our friends at Ligne Roset. While some may argue that great Italian design transcends fashion, it’s usually not touted as such in ad copy. Words like “classic”, and “functional” are normally not we would expect from the brand, but these are new times. The style is something we have seen before, and comfort is definitely part of the equation:
How does this apply to the built environment, other than The Stuff We Buy goes into The Stuff We Build? It’s a bit early to tell, but there are some lessons:
A: Price may matter, but its not everything
B: Fashion may be a bit less fashionable these days
C: Familiar is the new Fresh
Over the next several months, I’ll be on the lookout for examples in the built environment. The New Normal is coming – we just need to figure out how.