Hospitality

New age travellers

Sameness and anonymity is out – it's all about fun and authenticity for Millennial travellers, says Rockwell Group partner Greg Keffer


Read on turning pages | Download PDF | sign up to CLAD

What do Millennials want out of a hotel experience?
Modern travellers value experience and community over opulence and material possessions, and hospitality is beginning to reflect that. Millennials crave an authentic experience, rooted to its time and place.

Moxy is a great example of a brand designed for travellers who want a hotel to be a fun and coherent experience, not a sequence of formalised rituals. Our firm recently designed three key amenity areas for Moxy Times Square in New York. The restaurants, which are operated by the TAO Group, provide visitors with distinct experiences. Egghead is a compact, street-level fast casual spot. Legasea is a warm, intimate seafood brasserie on the 2nd floor. Inspired by classic amusement parks, the Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge is a series of playful dining and lounge areas with views of the city skyline.

What don’t they want?
Sameness and anonymity. For decades, hotel brands focused on the homogenisation and streamlining of their properties. It was more about reliability and consistency and less about the enjoyment of difference. Difference was regarded as a flaw.

For example, we recently completed Hotel EMC2 in Chicago. The property is part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection. The brand emphasises individuality. No two Autograph hotels are alike.

Our client approached Rockwell Group because he wanted something different from any other hotel. It’s great to have a developer that’s passionate about their project in a personal way and collaborates along the journey to ensure all the points align to make magic.

The hotel is located in a burgeoning science-driven district in Chicago, so our goal as designers was to capture the intersection of art and science. The design concept for the lobby, restaurant, amenities, and guestrooms celebrates the artist and scientist’s shared sense of discovery, creativity, and innovation. We balanced the two realms by focusing on the similarities between the artist and scientist – their shared sense of curiosity, creativity, and passion for innovation.

The double-height space of The Albert restaurant allowed us to play with this concept on a grand scale. We conceived a haphazardly-stacked collection of bookcases and dressers to not only give a more human scale to the dining room but also to form a fantastic structure hiding a secret staircase to a lofted lounge high above. Consistent with the concept of discovery, the bookcases playfully evoke an imagined home of a scientist and a poet packed to the ceiling with an eclectic collection of books, antiques, and art that they had collected throughout their lives.

How will their desires change the industry? 
Obviously, Millennials are tech savvy and able to access a lot of information. As a result, they are very sophisticated and well educated travellers. Moreover, they’re not interested in one-size-fits-all design. They want experiential spaces that will push us as architects to design hotels with distinct personalities that fit whatever one’s character, mood, and interests are.

The evolution of “mash-ups” is one of the most interesting design concepts to emerge today. We’re seeing different typologies merge, blur, and evolve into unique solutions that support how people live, work, and play today. As a studio, we’ve been looking at a wider range of projects – from hotels and restaurants to offices, theatres, and train stations – through the lens of hospitality. I think there’s a realisation that there’s a hunger for people to share social space in other environments. I think it’s partly a reflection of the physical isolation associated with social media and an acknowledgement of a basic human need.

An example is NeueHouse, a co-working environment in New York and Los Angeles. In both locations, we combined elements of hospitality, office and theatre to create a new type of workspace to house new forms of work habit. Essentially, the idea was to encourage and capture the serendipitous encounter by creating a series of inviting public spaces, where members can gather, socialise, and exchange ideas.

How do you approach designing for Millennials?  
Narrative and storytelling are more important than ever in hospitality these days as travellers demand luxury and a residential sense of comfort in addition to a unique, immersive experience. We pour over the history of the hotel’s location – and in some cases, the history of the building itself – to weave allusions to the past into our design concepts and details. There’s growing interest among hoteliers in anchoring their hospitality projects to the local culture and context or a specific place and time to make their guests feel as if they are stepping into a different world.

Hoteliers are also seeking other ways to address the needs of millennial travellers. Hilton commissioned Rockwell Group’s LAB, our in-house innovation studio, to create the Hilton Innovation Gallery, an R&D lab to showcase the company’s new hotel brands, products, and vision for the future to their key constituents (owners, operators, and employees), and inspire individuals to think differently about hospitality and the future of the service industry. It also enables Hilton to invite its creative collaborators and brand partners to test new products in a variety of event types.

Gallery
Click on an image to open the image gallery
company profile
Company profile: Dornbracht GmbH
Dornbracht is turning the bathroom into a LifeSpa: Dornbracht’s LifeSpa vision has taken the idea of health-oriented bathroom design to a new level.
Try cladmag for free!
Sign up with CLAD to receive our regular ezine, instant news alerts, free digital subscriptions to CLADweek, CLADmag and CLADbook and to request a free sample of the next issue of CLADmag.
sign up
The design team took inspiration from the 1950s and 1960s, while adding contemporary touches
Linda Boronkay grew up in Budapest. Her father was an architect and her mother was an antiques dealer and collector
"Nick Jones and I are both passionate about design. When we see the same thing twice, it bores us. It’s risky but interesting creatively"

At the end of a very busy year for Soho House, the group’s design director talks us through her plans

The Tama Art University Library features a series of slender arches
Toyo Ito was born in Seoul in 1941. He studied architecture at the University of Tokyo
"I have one dream with my work. Architecture should equal nature"

The Pritzker Prize-winner talks about inspiration, battling bureaucracy and the Tokyo National Olympic Stadium saga with Kim Megson

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
features
The development includes dedicated spaces for fitness and wellness activities
"Now we’re talking about pedestrians as the most important members of the street community"

The new US neighbourhood designed to improve the health of its residents

The Newspaper Cafe in Jinhua Architecture Park, China
Born in Kobe, Japan and later growing up in New York, Mori has become a trailblazer for women in architecture around the world
"Every decision you make, you should think seven generations ahead"

From a compressed earth cultural centre in Senegal to the sleek Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Mori’s work shares a clarity of purpose

Moxy is a fun brand designed for Millennial travellers
"Millennials are pushing us architects to design hotels with distinct personalities"

Sameness is out, authenticity is in when it comes to designing for millennials says Greg Keffer

features
"Should a thousand year wave occur, you’ll be completely safe"

A sneak preview of one of the world’s largest underwater restaurants

featured supplier
Featured Supplier: EXF supports Third Space to create London’s largest functional training space at The Yard
Bespoke fitness manufacturer EXF has extended its relationship with Third Space, by supplying the luxury fitness group with London’s largest functional training rig at its Canary Wharf club.
cladkit product news
Aotta launches sound panels made from hemp husks
The panels are designed to maintain 'healthy spaces' and consist of Hemp husks fashioned into a natural porous membrane that absorbs sound
Lauren Heath-Jones
Russian design studio Aotta has developed a range of eco-friendly, sound-absorbing panels made from the waste products of hemp seeds. ...
Baux creates plant-based acoustic panels
Baux has worked with scientists from the Royal Institute of Technology to create Baux Acoustic Pulp, a plant-derived acoustic solution
Lauren Heath-Jones
Baux, an acoustic products brand based in Sweden, has developed a line of biodegradable acoustic panels, using a plant-based material ...
Bartok Design installs 'transformative' soaking tubs in SpaFusion at Pallazzo Varignana
Bartok Design creates traditional Japanese soaking tubs
Lauren Heath-Jones
Bartok Design, a Japan-based supplier of Ofuro (Japanese bathtubs), has completed a major installation at the newly opened SpaFusion at ...
cladkit product news
Zaha Hadid Design partners with Royal Thai to create carpet collection celebrating Zaha Hadid's legacy
The carpets capture Hadid's notable use of layering and interweaving as well as her use of light and shadow
Lauren Heath-Jones
Zaha Hadid Design has partnered with carpet manufacturer Royal Thai to create a new carpet collection inspired by the work ...
Water inspires Zaha Hadid Design x Rosenthal collaboration
The collection consists of three smaller collections: Weave, Strip and Lapp. Weave was inspired by 'the fluid lines of Zaha Hadid's sketching hand'
Lauren Heath-Jones
Zaha Hadid Design has partnered with porcelain manufacturer Rosenthal to create a new collection of vases. Called the Lapp collection, ...
Tredje Natur launches Climate Tile to bring green spaces to urban settings
Tredje Natur has installed the pilot system of its Climate Tile system in the Nørrebro area of Copenhagen
Lauren Heath-Jones
Danish company Tredje Natur (Third Nature) has recently installed the pilot system of its innovative street paving system in the ...
cladkit product news
Volvo partners with Reef Lab Designs to encourage ocean biodiversity
The tiles are made from marine-grade concrete and recycled plastic fibres
Lauren Heath-Jones
Car manufacturer Volvo has partnered with the Sydney Institute of Marine Science and Reef Design Lab to create an environmentally-friendly ...
David Rockwell partners with Jim Thompson for dream-inspired fabric collection
Rockwell has designed 12 multi-use fabrics inspired by dreams with long-time collaborator Jim Thompson
Lauren Heath-Jones
Renowned architect David Rockwell has created a collection of fabrics with long-time collaborator Jim Thompson. Called Dreams, the collection was ...
John Pawson reimagines oil lantern for Wästberg
The Holocene No. 4 reflects Pawson's pared-back style and neutral palette
Lauren Heath-Jones
Swedish lighting company Wästberg has expanded its Holocene collection, with a new addition, Holocene No. 4, designed by acclaimed architect ...