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    Principals Roundtable: Is Hospitality The Future Of Design?

    Hospitality Giant Skidmore, Owings & Merrill's Park Hotel Hyderabad, India. Photography by Pallon Daruwala.

    This is the second in a series of articles that will cover the main issues discussed at the recent principals roundtable held by IIDA and Interior Design at the magazine’s One Night Only event in Washington, D.C.

    Attendees of Interior Design’s recent principals roundtable in Washington, D.C., heralded the growth of the hospitality market and touted its ethos of comfort, luxury, versatility, and fluidity as a model for myriad types of other projects. With the market segment's recent resurgence following a hard fall during the recession comes an onslaught of trends that are quickly disseminating into other market segments—office, healthcare and even multifamily residences.

    This cross-fertilization of ideas across market segments invigorated the entire panel. Said one participant whose expertise is in health care, “I’ve seen that health-care executives now really want to solve problems holistically.” (To ensure a frank and open conversation about the high priority issues impacting the design industry, Interior Design and IIDA agreed not to identify attendees.)

    Another harbinger of hospitality’s growing influence on other market segments, the panel agreed, is the slow and steady replacement of the stuffy, dark-wood-paneled law office with a more open, social design vernacular. As one principal pointed out, change has definitely reached a fever-pitch when it extends to even the most doggedly traditional markets: “Some law firms are even starting to adopt the same size offices for partners and associates. Before, that would have been unprecedented.”

    For manufacturers, cross-fertilization means that designers are using their products in entirely new ways. One panelist from a contract furniture company observed that designers have begun specifying residential product lines for office projects in order to create a more approachable, livable atmosphere.

    Of course, clients’ motivation for this transition to open, collaborative, “home-y” design in office and healthcare projects goes beyond wanting to keep up with a hot new trend. One executive who recently completed the renovation of a traditional “dead space” office lobby into usable “social space” remarked that the client saw the transformation as a way to increase productivity, and therefore, revenue, while a healthcare executive said, simply: “Good design heals.”

    Principals Roundtable: Managing Client Expectations