In discussion with David Lee Hood, associate at Goddard Littlefair
Over the years Focus SB’s products have been specified for the Goddard Littlefair studio’s luxury hotel projects including the multiple award winning The Gleneagles Hotel, Scotland, and exquisite addresses such as the award-winning residential property for Berkeley Homes, Ebury Square, London.
We’re delighted to be given the opportunity for discussion with David Lee Hood, Associate at Goddard Littlefair for over five years, and discover his take on the future of hotel design.
How has luxury hotel design changed over the last decade?
A big question! Just over a decade ago we had the recession that followed the financial crash and this pulled a lot of money away from the design process initially. In some ways, it has probably made luxury hotel design more holistic in the sense that luxury is understood in more ways than purely monetary value now. An expensive finish or product does not necessarily tick an automatic box any more, but is more of a ‘nice to have’ addition, with the overall experience counting above all. In terms of products, we have seen a massive increase in finishes options, from face-plate metal options and porcelain tile developments to reconstituted stone. Previously there was some variety, but quite often there was a clear leading option and the rest were not up to standard. Having all of those strong options now makes the market richer and the choice better for architects and designers.
What are the biggest challenges when it comes to planning lighting, sockets and switches?
The biggest problem we encounter is the struggle to pin down a set of standards that all or most operators are happy with. Keeping it simple can be very difficult due to varying operational requirements.
To what extent are your clients influenced by design over functionality?
In my interpretation, design automatically includes functionality and so if the functionality isn’t there then the design has failed. If the question relates to appearance over functionality, it’s more of a styling question and I don’t think many of our clients would prioritise that over functionality, especially when it comes to electrical functionality, where, if not done correctly, this can really frustrate a guest.
Do you think hotel guests prefer simplicity over complexity when it comes to features such as lighting controls?
Absolutely. We get more and more requests for simplicity and have even been handed projects where part of our scope is to simplify the technology.
How do you envisage guest hotel technology will alter over the next few years?
I believe we will move away from giving guests too many options in the hospitality domain. This is likely to remain in the area of residential design, however, as I foresee residential and hotel technology separating completely, as they are used in very different ways. In residential you have time and patience to learn and play with your technology to make it personal to you. In hotels the user wants to be spending his or her time relaxing in a room or heading to the bar, rather than trying to figure out how the technology works. It does still need to provide a very useful function and enhance the experience however.
Trends indicate there’s a continuing rise in travel for health as we head into 2019, how will this impact on Goddard Littlefair’s approach to hotel, spa and wellness design?
We work with a wide range of consultants who engage with us and allow us to identify trends and act on these as we see fit. We recently invited one of the lighting designers we work with into our office to do a CPD that featured circadian rhythm heavily, for example. We are seeing the beginning of a strong reaction from companies such as Apple when it comes to circadian rhythm and we are very interested in how we can integrate and utilise this within our future work. At the same time, we have also always been very aware of the importance of natural light and the power of colour, texture and fabric to relax guests, as well as the intricacies of designing stress-free journeys through spaces, particularly when it comes to the design of spas and wellness centres.
What does it take to design award-winning hospitality interiors, and what makes Goddard Littlefair stand out?
It takes a very strong team of designers and plenty of collaboration with our clients, consultants and contractors. We try to avoid following trends too much and always stick with our beliefs that the best design comes from a good balance of client requirements being fulfilled, contextual relativity and end-user and market needs. Our particular blend is all about the highest aesthetics combined with pragmatism and flexibility.
Visit Goddard Littlefair’s website to view examples of the company’s award-winning luxury interior design projects.