The COVID-19 outbreak has surely impacted the world of hospitality and will affect not only how we travel going forward, but how we live our lives. Hospitality and tourism are possibly taking some of the greatest hits, but how has the pandemic affected hospitality design? What’s happening to ongoing and planned projects? What will guests now expect from hotel design? Will there be new guidelines to follow? While many things are unclear and there may not be answers to these questions just yet, designers are still inspired and ready to face this new reality.
InspireDesign recently caught up with Shay Lam, managing executive/studio creative director at TPG Architecture, for his take on the current situation and his predictions for the future of design:
What changes are you considering for projects currently in the works? How is the design process going to change?
Our projects and their individual scopes are going to drastically change in a similar manner as we saw post-9/11 or post any traumatic incident. We have to look at new behavioral design solutions that are evolving rapidly. Some changes will focus on pragmatic things such as reduced density, stringent cleaning cycles and leveraging relevant technology. Other changes will have a stronger focus on the human aspect of this pandemic–examining how we can put people at ease and give them a sense of health security, perceived or actual, in this new environment. Our design process now has to look beyond just the physical and the aesthetics.
In terms of products, what do designers need to keep in mind? Antimicrobial products or products that are easier to clean?
Products will evolve and designers need to reach out and work with our vendor and manufacturing partners to come up with solutions. We will look at advances in technology like voice activation, touchless solutions and utilizing personal devices in order to solve problems. Other market sectors, healthcare, in particular, will help us inform our design strategies and methods. And yes, antimicrobial finishes will be critical.
How are public spaces going to change? Are we going to see shared spaces being encouraged or is design going to be more guestroom-focused now?
This is a subject that is continuously evolving. We know that there will be a move for reduced density within the public space, but it will go beyond that. The buffet bar, or any shared items such as magazines or free coffee, might disappear in place of more sanitary, single-use solutions. Transactions will also change and businesses will have to decide if they operate through a human or automated interface. Maintenance and cleaning cycles will be more frequent. There might be a greater focus on the guestroom experience as we create more opportunity for the space to function like a “home office” and allow guests to have virtual meetings. The minibar might also come back in a big way.
How will the pandemic affect sustainable design? Will we see more eco-conscious designs efforts?
It’s hard to think that single-serve anything is really sustainable. While yes, things like the buffet bar and all that wasted food will go away, now all food will need single-use packaging. Instead of being able to use glassware, we may need to use paper products instead. Linen and towels might come in “guaranteed fresh” packaging that the user will open themselves. Also, higher and more stringent cleaning cycles means more chemicals. None of this seems sustainable. As a society, we will need to innovate in order to make these new practices sustainable.
What about amenities? Are we moving completely online? How will this affect design?
Not all amenities will be online, but the ones that do, like fitness, will be a great avenue to explore.
How will the outbreak affect design long term? How will this shift the way interior designers and architects approach projects?
The world post-COVID-19 will be remarkably different, which means we have to think differently and innovatively, reaching out beyond our markets for solutions that are beyond just architecture and design.
Any other advice you have for hospitality designers?
Keep evolving, be agile, know that there will always be a “new” normal and that you will be able to tackle every challenge. We will get through it.