Design Work Portfolio design principal Martin Wojnowski explains how his experience working in hotels is vital for informing the very practical process of hotel design and creating a “living” product.
HME: What role should an interior designer play on a hotel project?
The main role of the commercial interior designer is very commercial. Interior designers should successfully develop an interior design scheme that will bring value to the project and accelerate the financial returns for hotel owner — in line with the operator’s design guidelines. Sometimes these guidelines have to be diplomatically interpreted for the needs of a local market.
The designer identifies key points that will enhance financial returns of a hotel, resort or restaurant and constantly develops design guidelines as a set formula, thus, enriching a brand’s (operator’s) identity. In times of excessive competition within the hospitality and leisure markets, the designer answers the following questions posed by operators and developers: why should somebody stay in my hotel or dine in my restaurant? Why is my outlet different? Who is going to be my preferred guest? Why? Is he really my ideal type of guest? What expectations does my ideal guest have regarding my outlet?
In short, once such questions are answered in agreement with the client and operator, the designer proceeds with the development of an interiors scheme within the best possible budget. Once it is all approved, the designer is set to develop of the scheme and supervise the construction without compromising the overall quality of finishes and FF&E.
HME: How do you meet the demands of clients with reduced budgets without affecting quality?
Each item should be addressed individually and approved by the designer. If it does not meet the set standards, the designer should assist the contractor with selection of a cost effective alternative. It is possible to replace nearly everything these days. However, care should be taken to retain the key finishes. For example, there is a recently constructed, five-star hotel in Dubai which features vinyl flooring in the key reception area. Obviously it was meant to be timber originally. They should have found a cheaper timber or even a laminate option. Otherwise they should have compromised on less significant details or areas. The same applies to furniture. One can never compromise on the quality of a bed/mattress. Otherwise clever alternatives are considered.
There is no ‘golden rule’ for successful design. Clients should be clearly informed regarding the costs from the beginning. If there is a budget issue under the limits of creativity costs, client can just hire the contractors to execute the job including design. However, he should be prepared for disappointments with the final result. A good interior design package matched with exceptional customer service in an operating hotel is the key element of a hotel’s success. Location is a tertiary factor.