Creating Indigenous Experiential Design
By Ronald M. Lustig Design Architect/Principal, Earl Swensson Associates, Inc. (ESa) | June 08, 2014
For those who travel as much as I do, you have probably lived "Groundhog Day" more than once when you wake up in a hotel room and experience a moment of panic. The bed, desk and TV screen are placed in the same spots of the room as that of the last hotel you were in. Familiar bed covering patterning. Same upholstered chair. Same lamps. The art on the wall is generic for Anywhere USA as are the rest of the finishes throughout the room. "Where am I and which city am I in?"
If you are really desperate, you can always pick up your iphone and ask Siri, "Where am I?" or flip on the TV to catch the local news. There may be a local sightseeing guide on the desk. Without the electronic help and subtle clues, your guess is as good as mine. You could be on the West Coast or East Coast. Nothing in the room immediately provides a visual reading of the city or region.
Renowned writer, poet and playwright Gertrude Stein once said when referring to Oakland, where she grew up, "…there is no there there." This succinct summation can also apply to hotels, chain and otherwise. When there is no distinguishing sense of place to set a lodging venue apart from those in other parts of the country, the guest experiences are not particularly memorable or positive. Quite simply, there is no there there. Sure, the groundhog-day similarities of a popular chain may reinforce the consistencies that one can depend upon of a brand, no matter the locale. But wouldn't the lodging experience be enhanced and more memorable as a place to which you would like to return if it became a seamless extension of its location instead of a time/place-warp product with more commonalities than unique attributes?
Include the Senses
When creating a destination venue, catering to the senses is essential. Many chain, boutique and other types of hotels are already utilizing this approach.
Visual – The interior environment should be pleasantly, not overly, stimulating, and, at the same time, relaxing. The design of spaces for intuitive wayfinding, the use of colors, textures with mixtures of materials and views to the out-of-doors help transition the traveler to check-in, locating needed services and in finding the assigned guestroom. Such amenities as a fireplace and comfortable seating arrangements project welcoming warmth in a lobby.
The Hotel Business Review articles are free to read on a weekly basis, but you must purchase a subscription to access
our library archives. We have more than 5000 best practice articles on hotel management and operations, so our
knowledge bank is an excellent investment! Subscribe today and access the articles in our archives.