Hotel conference addresses the next decade’s challenges

Forecasters are saying turbulence and uncertainty in the coming decade will present hotels with new problems for design to challenge and change.

Speakers will meet in Berlin next month at the Design Hotels Future Forum to discuss ’hybrid thinking’ – loosely defined by organisers as the idea that designers need to ’blend different skills and fields of thought to develop innovative concepts’, particularly in the hospitality industry.

The conference will also offer up global social, economic, environmental and political scenarios, which require design solutions. Chris Sanderson and Martin Raymond, insight directors at The Future Laboratory, will propose social movements and business trends they think will be prevalent across the coming decade, which they have dubbed ’turbulent teens’.

James Wallman, editor of LSN – the trend forecasting portal attached to The Future Laboratory – says that Raymond and Sanderson’s talk will be informed by people including Peter Singer, who has written extensively about automated robotics in warfare, and Jonathan Grant, president of think tank Rand Europe, which also forecasts turbulence.

’There’s a general feeling of economic and environmental crisis, a shift to NGO power and a shift from the traditional powers to the Mavins,’ Wallman says. The Mavins are Mexico, Australia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Nigeria and South Africa. These countries will both influence and become a growing market for design, Wallman adds.

The ’peak oil’ crisis assumes that as a carbon-reliant economy, prices will rise as oil supplies dry up. Design will have to counter ’the effect on supply chains and the cost of plastics’, says Wallman.

’Glocalisation’, Wallman offers, may be a solution. ’Global blueprints can be executed on a local basis,’ he says. Designing and producing in one country will become increasingly necessary, he believes, as ’a celebration of the local and the community is seen more’, partly as a response to the avoidance of clocking up carbon miles.

Designers will also need to address what Wallman calls ’leananomics’. He says, ’Businesses need to be made leaner. Consumers are being overwhelmed by messages. Design’s response will be the idea of reductionism – to be leaner.’

This will partly be as a reaction to people being simultaneously engaged across TV, Internet and mobile phone platforms, he offers.

Broad global developments will effect design in all sectors. Design Hotels Future Forum is to focus on the hospitality industry, which speaker Dr David Bosshart, chief executive of Swiss trends organisation the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute, says can overcome changing customer demands though designing with ’hybrid thinking’, rather than thinking in silos.

Designers as individuals will have to draw on a broader range of skills to deliver design to a changing hospitality industry, Bosshart believes.

’Customers have leisure and business demands which are increasingly contradictory,’ says Bosshart. ’You can’t just think in terms of spaces in hotels – you need to design for the contradictory expectations of customers in the future and shape something that designs with communication and emotion in mind.’

The most effective designers will create ’modular systems’, says Bosshart, who believes long-term design solutions need to be created for any eventuality in the hospitality industry, ’through good times, bad times and all seasons’.

Long-term security and stability will have to be factored into brands to cope with the turbulence of the next decade in Bosshart’s view, and designers with the broadest breadth of experience, ’from branding to architecture’, will be the most successful.

’True designers will be well prepared to cope with this,’ he adds.

Speakers at Design Hotels Future Forum, Berlin, 10-11 June, include:

  • Chris Sanderson and Martin Raymond, co-owners of The Future Laboratory, London
  • Dr David Bosshart, chief executive of the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institut, Zurich
  • Sissel Tolass, chemist, professor, smell researcher and artist, Berlin

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