Global design firm Gensler won the Sleep Set competition at Sleep 2016, the annual hotel design event, with a radically different conception of what guest rooms—and hotels—may become. The guests they were assigned to design for were termed “Digital Avant-Gardes”—“globalized, nonconformist travelers in constant search of new, enriching encounters, cultural engagement, knowledge and inspiration.”
As Claire Richmond writes in this Building Design + Construction post, “Having been assigned the ‘Digital Avant-Gardes' it soon became apparent that we were working with a contradiction. Would our tribe even stay in a hotel? Probably not. They would likely prefer alternative forms of accommodation over a traditional hotel; they appreciate the homeliness, flexibility, value and locality of these places.
"So we did what we do best… we deconstructed. We focused our discussions on who these people really are and what they look for. …We needed to create an experience that was experimental and unscripted, highly sociable, community focused and creative.”
Their vision of the hotel of the future is one that centers around a communal area that also serves as a workspace for local artisans, craftspeople, and other creative types, and a communal kitchen where guests can cook with locals, using locally sourced ingredients.
Guestrooms also will be fully adaptable. Beds can be combined or separated to form single or doubles, and even stacked to become a sofa. “In all arrangements, guests can adjust the space to satisfy their living styles, reflecting a desire amongst guests to participate in their changing environment.” And forget the big-screen TVs. In Gensler’s vision, guests just need lots of sockets and charging stations to plug in their own devices. Check out this video of Richmond walking a videographer through their concept at the show for some samples of how it might look.
They don’t talk about meeting space in the items I've read about the design, but I imagine these same concepts could easily be carried through to make it easy for groups to crossbreed ideas with each other and the local community.
It wouldn’t be right for every—or even most—meetings, but for the right group, this could be a real game-changer (if it ever came to be, that is. And I hope it does, because I would love to stay there).
In a semi-related note, check out this writeup from SoolNua Managing Partner Padraic Gilligan on the Event of the Future, which was held in New York City and hosted by Livestream, Sli.do, and Convene. In a lot of ways, the event of the future they outlined sounds right in harmony with Gensler's hotel design concept.
As Gilligan writes, "Jesse Hertzberg, CEO of Livestream stated that the event of the future would be all about immersion and viewer control; in a pre-event interview Ray Chang, Director of Marketing at Convene said the event of the future would foster connections between people—'micro-tribes'—outside of and after the event; Peter Komornik, Founder and CEO of Slido claimed the event of the future would be conversational." From his description in the post, it also sounds like Convene's event spaces are designed around these same concepts. Interesting how organizations are taking these trends and reshaping the spaces we meet and stay in to help people communicate, create experiences, and learn in new, more productive, and more interesting ways.