Back to nature is the latest design trend as new hotels open amid Hamburg’s growing popularity as a tourist destination, said Corinna Kretschmar-Joehnk of JOI-Design. Cosiness and a living-room in atmosphere in the hotel lobby are also popular. Kretschmar-Joehnk and her husband, Peter, are both interior decorators and their company JOI-Design specialises in developing and implementing design concepts for the international hotel trade. Corinna Kretschmar-Joehnk, 51, has been in the business for over 20 years and has seen many changes. In the 21st century, guests are central to all design decisions albeit that has not always been the case.
Experiments – from purity to robots
Hotel guests have become demanding and discerning clientele with quickly-changing needs. The language of design ranges from minimalistic and functional, playful and cosy to the cool and innovative. Many crazy ideas have been tested in recent years to come up with designs that range from purity i.e. decorating a room entirely in white to robots. But the chosen style depends on the target group and storytelling works like magic.
Christoph Hoffmann, Co-Founder and CEO of 25hours Hotels Company “invented storytelling”, according to Corinna Kretschmar-Joehnk, adding: “Naturally, our designs have always told stories. Yet the 25hours hotels were the first to turn them around so cleverly and consistently.” Individual hotels tell a story about their location, the neighbourhood and property and this becomes the language of design. That’s how the 25hours hotels developed the claim, “If you know one, you don’t any“ (Kennen Sie eins, kennen Sie keins“). Many decorative elements lead to individually decorated hotels which results in practical side effects “We call them Instagram moments, said Kretschmar-Joehnk. Guests use different gimmicks, take selfies, post them online, get likes and this generates lots of publicity.“ This type of viral marketing means young target groups in particular are constantly on the lookout for selfie motives.
Honey from rooftop beehives
Social media is buoying JOI Design’s orders and across the sector. “We are witnessing a boom actually. And young travellers value environmental protection and sustainability. They want to explore a city on a bike. Food served in the restaurant should be from the region. Ideally, honey should be from beehives on the hotel’s roof.”
Bringing glamping to the city
Hospitality design trends are marked by sustainability and a return to nature and can be seen as a reaction to the fast pace and overstimulation of the digital era, said Kretschmar-Joehnk. “Guests want to take time out of their hectic everyday lives and wind down. And where else is better than nature?” At the same time, they do not want to go without any hotel comforts: enter glamping.
The glamping trend originated in the United States and is essentially camping involving accommodation and facilities more luxurious than those associated with traditional camping. Glamping has spread to Germany and the concept is now reaching the city, said Kretschmar-Joehnk. The use of natural elements in a hotel design as well as big windows with views of urban skylines make for lovely contrasts.
Discerning travellers are now spoilt for choice. However, most travellers still value familiar elements. “Basics like mattresses and showers must be right. But they do not have to be packaged similarly. Guests want to feel valued,” said Kretschmar-Joehnk.
Even hotels that stressed recognition value in the past are now changing course, she noted, adding, “The budget design hotel Motel One, which has hotels all over Europe, is adding local elements. Artists are being hired in the respective locations to send a message to guests that 'You are now in e.g. Hamburg!'“