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Bringing the Outdoors Inside

Gone are the days of lifeless, stale business meetings. Through design, hotels are bringing the outdoors inside with nature-inspired decor. Kimpton Hotel Born in Denver is just one of these properties, taking cues from Mother Nature. Tom Gallagher, principal, Semple Brown, gave InspireDesign some insight into how to liven up indoor meeting spaces:

Bring the outdoors in through your decor: Warm lighting, earth tones and textured materials make a space feel like a home. Think string lights, plants, grass walls, hand-woven rugs and warm-colored furniture pieces.

“We don’t see it as a trend, we see it continuing; it is fundamentally the right thing to do,” Gallagher said. “I think it comes down to finding specific, judiciously placed, precise opportunities to engage the outdoors. It doesn’t have to be a 50-ft.-long opening glass wall.”

Highlight spaces with natural light: Because the connection between the indoors and outdoors is so integral to the Colorado experience, each room at Hotel Born has large floor-to-ceiling windows. The ballroom has floor-to-ceiling doors to let in the crisp Rocky Mountain air. Utilize natural light from windows to highlight seating and dining areas where you can.

“It is a well-documented fact that natural light increases productivity and well-being. In the case of group and event spaces, the presence of natural light, with the ability to control it when necessary, expands the opportunities in those spaces,” Gallagher said.

Offer spaces to actually get outside: Utilize terraces and patios for cocktail receptions or for break areas during meetings. Action stations around the hotel or meeting space offer a progressive way to maximize space and let people move around. Hotel Born has a porte cochere and a terrace overlooking Union Station.

“From a groups/events perspective, we realized early on that being a ground-up project, not a retrofit, and having underground parking afforded us the opportunity to place the meeting spaces above ground and capture natural light, and perhaps even the ability to literally access the outdoors from ballrooms and meeting spaces,” Gallagher said.

Use natural design materials: Use hardwood, pine and metals to create a warm and natural surrounding. Hotel Born’s locally relevant, natural and handcrafted materials create a balance of wood, concrete and metal, which together capture Denver’s sophisticated locale while referencing the pine-filled mountains visible from the hotel’s west-facing windows.

“This, at the time, was a rare opportunity, as meeting/event/group spaces are often buried in basements. Kimpton appreciated that approach, and agreed that this move created added value to the meeting spaces,” he said.