'Hotels as a Work Space' by KLC Tutor and Interior Designer, Jesenka Woodward


September is always a busy month for the design industry. This year is particularly special as we emerge from the time of lockdowns, uncertainty and general anxiety. London Design (formerly 100% Design) is one event in September that draws our attention to the latest developments in contemporary design. Amongst the event’s talks this year is one about hotels as workspaces.

The pandemic was a time of reflection and evaluation for many of us individually but also for business and manufacturing. After 18 months of working from home, we are slowly moving towards a more relaxed and varied way of working that brought us a new work force of digital nomads who work remotely from foreign countries, coffee shops, public libraries, co-working spaces, or recreational vehicles. Hotels are being used as impromptu offices more than ever. With globalised economies, and travel being an inseparable part of this, will hotels become the primary place to work post-pandemic?

Always at the forefront of moving boundaries in design, KLC’s School of Design Part Time Diploma students, who graduated this summer, were tasked with thinking about hotels in this new light for their final project. The brief was to design a mix-use space that first and foremost reflects the changing requirements and expectations created by the pandemic. It also had to be sustainable where possible while maintaining the ‘simple and contemporary’ style of the Hampton by Hilton hotel chains. Three students created particularly interesting, creative and forward-thinking proposals.

Although something that is usually warned against, the concept of ‘Mixing Business with Pleasure’ was how one student, Cara Viverito, approached this subject. It is probably exactly what everybody needs after the last 18 months, as Cara explains: “The two are now blurred so it might as well be fun, mirroring what happened after the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 that led to the Roaring 20’s. The concept creates a more emotive experience for the Hampton by Hilton brand through its playfulness and nurtures creativity. Travel has decreased since the pandemic. This has created an opportunity for hotels to create flexible workspace as an additional stream of revenue. It can be used by guests of the hotel, those within the community who are now working from home and want a change of scenery, as well as local businesses for offsites and brainstorming sessions. This was answered by creating multiple experiences for working from privacy pods, conventional desks, living room-like areas and meeting rooms. By day guests of the hotel and from the community can come and work in an environment that inspires and delights. They can enjoy a good cup of coffee, breakfast or light lunch, on their own or with colleagues. At night some of the work areas turn into cosy spaces for relaxing and unwinding from the day.”

Cara Viverito – Working area with privacy pods

Another student, Manisha Agarwal, created a sense of place by connecting the hotel and its location’s industrial past with her concept of ‘Hub and Spoke’. This look is softened by adding sensory design. Manisha states ”My objective was to create a space which immerses guests in the history of Park Royal and creates a link with the local community. I also wanted to use multisensorydesign in order to engage the guests holistically and create a greater connection with the space.”

Within this concept she created 3 distinct co-working zones where the guests can log into the high-speed Wi-Fi through the co-working app, pay for snacks from vending machines or order quick healthy meals to their desks.

The choice of materials for this space is not only linked to the industrial theme but also driven by the need for sustainability and the concept of designing for the senses. Varied textures to stimulate the tactile experience, soft materials and plants to balance out the harshness of metal, and natural wood finishes to neutralise the austerity of an industrial look. All materials used are either reclaimed, recyclable or responsibly sourced.

Golizar Ahmed, on the other hand, was inspired by the original motto of the Hilton hotels’ founder, Conrad Hilton, and his belief that everybody deserves to have a comfortable stay without being overcharged. He summed it up in his philosophy called MINIMAX, which means minimum price for maximum service. And thus, the concept of ‘More with Less’ was created. Inspired by the Japanese paired down aesthetic and a desire to create a calm and welcoming space, Golizar created work zones of various sizes while using sustainable materials, rich finishes and layered lighting solutions. Custom made glass and aluminium partition walls between working areas are functional and space-enhancing.

It looks like the hotel as a work space might be one trend here to stay long after the pandemic is over and there are some good reasons for that such as hotels’ service and facilities, attractive locations and possibility of working collaboratively and connecting with like-minded individuals where work can be combined with social activities, networking and more.
At KLC-School of Design we are very proud of our students who recognised these changes and are on the top of their game, ready to be a new creative force in the interior design industry.

Written by: Jesenka Woodward (KLC Tutor and Interior Designer)