The Ripple Effect: Episode 2 – Hospitality

In our first episode of The Ripple Effect series, sponsored by Grohe, we wrote about their commitment to sustainability and the preservation of clean water for all. As part of the Lixil Group, Grohe is committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and works tirelessly in this pursuit through the design of eco-friendly products. Not only is sustainability one of the key brand values, but a part of the company’s culture as well.

In this second episode, we chat with David T’Kint, founder of David T’Kint design studio, on the topic of trends in luxury interiors and hospitality.  He shares his thoughts on his experience on the topic, as well as insights into how it affects the design industry on a larger scale.

Storytelling Through Design

“Trends are subjective to me. When we’re asked to design something today, we’re thinking at least three years ahead. So we’re not really thinking of what’s trending today”, says David. He explains how something that is fashionable today, may not work years ahead. So they have to think of what will stick long term while keeping it fresh and exciting. 

“We create narratives and storylines, that’s how an experience is delivered in hospitality. We specialize in luxury and lifestyle and so trend is a word that I kind of put on the side. I don’t focus on what’s fashionable, but something that will still make sense down the road”, he elaborates. “The average life cycle of a hotel interior design is seven years, at least for soft furnishings. So you should know that if you do rose gold today, then in seven years, you’re still going to have rose gold. So your design better be on point. It has to make sense to your story and your narrative. You’ve got to think – will it still be relevant in 10 or 15 years? And so that’s why I think trends for me are not really the right thing to pursue”, he adds. 

But a lot of trends today are formed on the internet, in particular, social media. “There are so many so-called trends and fashionable approaches to lifestyles and design that I have an issue. When I travel and stay in a so-called trendy hotel, I don’t really feel it’s authentic. Most of them are pretending and it’s just an excuse to make something cheap look a little bit interesting. We take a more original approach at our design studio. What we do is build a very strong storyline. For example, two years ago, I worked on a project in Riyadh where the storyline was all about the opening of Saudi and its culture onto the world. It was focused on creating an experiential narrative. There was a hotel design I worked on ten years ago in China, where the sanitary fittings were red. I still think that’s very fashionable. That design fits the narrative. It’s part of the story”, David explains.

Basics are King

But he’s not ignoring trends completely. There are certain styles and patterns that go well anywhere, and those are worth exploring. “The basics are always important, but it depends on the product, the look and feel. Silver, chrome, and nickel tones with something brushed always work well. They have a layer of sophistication to them. You have the basics like pure white and black. The very basics of the basics. Because this works with everything and is easy to maintain. With hospitality, you have to think large scale and long term. Who knows if, in 10 years from now, the hotel operator will have to change 300 items because a product is no longer manufactured. Then you have to start changing products and will end up with a weird mix of finishes in the hotel which doesn’t work. So when we think of something trendy, we have to think carefully. It has to be long-lasting as well”, explains David.  

Trends also have to make sense. Especially in hospitality, it’s important for manufacturers to step up. “Sustainability has been a trend for a while now. I like the approach that brands like GROHE is taking. They’re not restricted to a specific market and can provide their services and products to any international market. They’re diversifying their production process, which in a way is contributing to sustainability. Because then they’re servicing the local market, with the products being locally made. The supply chain is tighter and shorter. I think in terms of carbon footprint, it makes much more sense.”

Luxury is Evergreen

David has a unique perspective on luxury trends. “Luxury cannot be trendy. I think it’s all based on what experience you’re trying to get to the client. That experience can be beige, blue, green. It doesn’t really matter what is out there and what is the trend right now. I think overall it’s about the experience of what the product gives you as opposed to what the product looks like. I mean, I know that obviously in my field the look is very important. But if we’re talking about sanitary bathroom accessories, what people care first about first and foremost is in terms of how luxurious that experience is. What kind of water comes out of there? One of the aspects that I hate in showers is when the system in the building isn’t balanced enough and the water gets cold, boiling, cold, boiling. It’s a horrible experience. You can have the most beautiful tap, but if that’s the experience, it’s horrible. So it’s a combination of things”, says David as he thinks through his experience. 

On the topic of technology trends in bathrooms, he comments, “Another trend that I have seen in the past few years is the addition of technology in sanitary fittings. This is cool, but I’m not sure how long that is going to last. What happens when the technology doesn’t work anymore? Or the batteries are dead. Then what do you do?” 

On the topic of luxury and trends going hand in hand, he provides an example of rose gold. “I remember rose gold being absolutely everywhere at one point a couple of years back. I was actually asked two years ago to redesign a lobby that I had designed earlier that wasn’t implemented because we used rose gold and they said, no, we’ve seen enough. One thing that I do like about this palette from Grohe is the subtleness of the tones that they have because typically, you would have a very strong tone. But with Grohe, it’s gradual, like a rainbow. You go from bright to dark in a subtle manner, and that’s a strong selling point for them.”

He further adds, “Colors come and go. Again, it’s important to pick colors that match the theme and experience, not just because it’s on trend. If I had to pick a trend though, I think hues of green and blue are trending. Even touches of colors to make things pop – like mustard or rust. But I think these two tones, the green and the blue hues, are really what I see is trending a little bit everywhere. But in general, if you use neutral colors with certain hues, you’ll always be safe.”  

Ultimately, the decision to go with what’s trending and what’s not depends on the client. “It’s not always easy trying to educate clients. Money speaks louder than words, especially in the luxury industry. Especially in hospitality when volumes are lage. Even among 5 star hotels, you can’t compare, for example, a Hilton and a Rosewood. Both are great brands, but their experiences and designs are different. When specifying products, we’ve to also think about the longevity of the products. I think that personally, it makes financial sense. The sustainability value and the lifecycle of the product is something to consider. Basically how much longer will it last than any other product”, explains David.

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Date added:

6 October, 2022

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