Twenty-twenty. When this year started, the design industry anticipated powering through the start of a new decade and all of the changes it may bring. I don’t think anyone imagined what would happen just a few short months into the year. 

In December, I discussed the emerging trend in the hospitality industry toward incorporating more nature into spaces and understanding how biophilic design can benefit a person’s health, mood, and overall experience. Little did I know that wellness would soon become the top priority for the hospitality industry at that time.

Unexpected, But Not Unprepared

Thankfully, there was already a bent toward designing the indoors to mimic the great outdoors. Research has shown that natural light, plants, trees, water, and other forms of nature can increase immunity and overall health. With health being top-of-mind, biophilic design is a trend we can count on continuing. Also, we are looking for ways to expand outdoor gathering spaces wherever possible. 

Interior hospitality spaces are also getting a simplification makeover. We’ve stripped back on accent pillows and decorative throws to reduce unnecessary health risks. While I hope we will slowly start layering the luxuries back into designs, our focus right now is making sure guests feel clean, safe, and happy. As guests return to travel and hotels, they want flexible, open spaces for social distancing. Public areas are more open, allowing the lobby to flow into the dining area, bar, lounge, and marketplace. 

As I was making accommodation for hands-free elements in a design, I thought back to how we used to get an actual key to our hotel room at check-in. Keys eventually changed to key cards, which made way for entry bracelets and smartphone access. COVID has forced us to prioritize touchless environments for guests.  

I realize as a designer, I have needed to be one step ahead of what’s coming. Anticipating change has been an essential part of my job, but I’ve also had to recognize a few things that should never change.  

Hospitality Design Will Continue to Evolve

While the hospitality industry started with providing a place for sleeping, it has evolved into what we see today. Despite all the changes I’ve seen in the last six months—and especially over the previous twenty years—one thing has remained the same. 

The guest has always been at the center of everything we do. 

The market is consistently evolving and becoming more advanced. Because hospitality is a competitive and ever-changing industry, our clients rely on us to improve their appeal and refresh their offerings.

The Way We Live Has Changed

Many of the changes I’ve seen in hotel design over the last ten years have reflected the ways our day-to-day lives have shifted. Think about how technology has changed the way we communicate and spend our free time. A decade ago, I wasn’t thinking about multiple, strategically placed power outlets, phone charging ports, Bluetooth in the bathroom mirrors, and augmented reality (AR) artwork in common areas and guest rooms. 

Emotions Still Drive Experience

Emotions have always driven a guest’s reaction to the interior design of a hotel. Having spent the last two decades working exclusively in hospitality, I continue to steer our design plans toward the emotions and responses our clients want people to experience as they step into the hotel for the first time. Today, most hotels want to create a home-away-from-home feeling. 

While each project is distinctively different, we are always looking to create an experience that the guests will enjoy and remember, so they return. Amenities like state-of-the-art fitness centers and spas are much more commonplace, and guests look for spaces where they can find a quiet place to read or work in a private setting. 

Guests Care About Local Flair

Even in large, multinational brands, guests have come to expect interior elements that are relevant to the specific location of their travels. From selecting artwork of community landmarks to featuring items that are locally made, we seek to integrate the surrounding area into our design scheme.

Design That Makes A Difference

Hospitality design is a dynamic and fast-paced industry. The JAI team is always on the lookout for new design challenges as we strive to create modern and vibrant hotel spaces that inspire emotion. As hotel designers, my team is ready to take on the many demands of today’s guests and create functional, awe-inspiring, and memorable designs. We are fully focused on Design That Makes a Difference.