This project started about 18 months before our team came on board. Since Cambria Hotels is part of a much larger international hotel brand, Choice Hotels International, they had an outside research team working on the brand to discover just who the new Cambria guest was and what they were looking for. They provided the Guiding Principles and Experiential Elements of all the guest would experience upon arrival, from check-in, to the lobby, lounge, bar, dining, and guest room. We learned the Cambria guests were medium frequency travelers and primarily millennials or at least millennial-minded. From this information, we became the guest and had to now translate this information into the interior design and guest experience of the new re-branded Cambria Hotels.
Designed for Balance
Balance is one of the most basic and fundamental principles we consider in every design. The easiest way to create balance in design is to blend organic with geometric. The team was intentional in blending hard surfaces with soft surfaces, taking hard lines and edges and introducing soft curves and radiuses.
Designed for a Feeling
We wanted guests to feel something special at Cambria. Everybody is somebody while they’re here. The guest can do whatever they want, wherever they want, however they want, because we have designed balanced, multi-functional spaces in all areas where they can be alone together if they so choose. It’s all about their personalized experience.
The front desk was even created in a convex design instead of concave so it would embrace the guest upon arrival and lowered so not to be a barrier between the guest and the team member on the other side. The market is open instead in a small dark room off the lobby so it is more inviting. The bar is in the shape of a horseshoe, which promotes the most interaction between guests as well as the team member serving the guests. Guests can check in, hang out, or grab a snack at the market. They can take a seat at the bar or grab a meal to enjoy anywhere in the spacious open lobby and lounge plan. This design gives the guest options.
The team extended the experience to the guest room. The soft seating is positioned by the window where there is the most natural light. The typical king studio has the bed floating in the room with the desk, beverage center, and wardrobe behind it so wherever you are in the space, you are not staring at a wall, but instead enjoying the view. The door to the bathroom is frosted glass allowing as much natural light to seep into the bathroom as possible. The messaging or nomenclature throughout the property is also intentional and welcoming down to the accent pillow on the bed. Every detail of this brand is about making the guest feel like they are somebody.
Designed for Depth
Cambria Hotels is a very urban brand so we were thinking about deconstructing the solid blue accent wall and loved the idea of brick so when our art company found us a concept of blue plaster chipped off of a brick wall, it was exactly what we were looking for. A graphic designer actually replicated the wall for us, brick by brick, to get us the exact wall we have now. The depth of detail is exquisite, from the coloring of each brick, the mortar between the bricks, the amount of moss and mildew build up on the bricks, the level of plaster, and the amount of paint, that wall was built one brick at a time.
It is very easy to create a design experience based on something you like or are inspired by, but when you are building a brand, there are so many layers to it just like our brick wall. It has to start with the brand story or the foundation before one brick can be placed. I challenge young and seasoned designers alike to take a step back, get a broader perspective and consider every aspect of the space and the function it will serve, and most importantly, who will the end user be. Great design isn’t about the designer’s personal tastes and style, it is about knowing how the space will positively influence the end-user and how to make it a memorable experience for them so they can leave knowing their time was not wasted while they were there.