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Winning the Expo 2020 has been a joyous moment for the emirate, but with victory comes a lot of work and hospitality projects are at the forefront. CID asks what to expect from hotel design this year

Hospitality has always been one of the star attractions of the UAE and with the recent Expo 2020 win, hotel projects in Dubai are expected to soar. Head of structures design at WSP, Bart Leclercq, noted that “the equivalent of 230 new hotels will need to be designed, built and operational within seven years, increasing the current 80,000 hotel rooms by an additional 50,000 rooms.”

This puts a lot of pressure on the market but also encourages a lot of excitement and positivity. It is also the perfect time for designers to find out exactly what is available on the market and what the different trends across the industry are gearing towards.

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Since hospitality spaces are a combination of specific areas and services, attention to all parts of the design is important. In the Middle East, due to hotter weather conditions, outdoor areas deserve special attention.

“In many hotels, that’s the area where clients spend the most time, and what they most remember. The outdoors are synonymous with holidays, relaxation and leisure time,” says Joan Ramon Pesarrodona, export director for the Middle East at Barcelona-based firm, Kettal.

Kettal collaborates with important names in the design world for its furniture collections including Patricia Urquiola, Rodolfo Dordoni, Hella Jongerius and Jasper Morrison.

“Today, furniture trends are global, with influences from all over the world. The latest contemporary furniture designs are light and clean, with nothing ornate, and there’s a return to natural materials: stone, wood and rope,” adds Pesarrodona.

On the other hand, marketing manager at Nakkash Gallery, Aya Nakkash, comments that one of the biggest trend for outdoor hospitality furniture is colour blocking. She explains: “The hospitality industry is moving away from earthy [palettes] to more colourful settings. The hotels in the Middle East are not afraid of mixing bold colours and patterns.”

“Outdoor modular lounges are another growing trend in the Middle East, since it is a great versatile design that allows for different configurations,” Nakkash adds.

In terms of materials, Nakkash notes the importance of taking the climate in the region into consideration: “Durability and withstanding harsh climates and temperatures is the number one concern when it comes to materials for outdoor furniture,” she notes.

According to Nakkash, one should select materials that are quick to dry, weather resistant and unlikely to fade.

“Outdoor furniture with nautical materials and finishes are gaining popularity within the hospitality industry and are expected to be the growing trend in the upcoming years.”

Pesarrodona, in agreement, adds that another priority for selecting materials is to find ones that require minimum maintenance.

“[This is why] Ketall is constantly innovating, not only in products but also new materials for outdoors, along with new treatments for traditional materials. Textiles for furniture, particularly outdoor furniture, are extremely important, even more so if they are used in high-traffic public areas.”

Pesarrodona notes that hotels in the UAE have been traditionally using synthetic rattan which is “not an outdoor material.” However, this is gradually changing with the arrival of new alternatives such as woven rope and aliminium.

Another area within a hospitality space that is central to its design and services is the bathroom and spa. Developing from a strictly functional space to one of the focal areas of design, the bathroom plays a huge role in the quality of a hospitality project.

Delta Faucet, who has been designing innovative water solutions for over 55 years, continues to strive to bring together two very precious resources: water and inspiration.

Ross Jackson, general manager for Middle East at Delta Faucet, notes that today and for years to come, “the focus is on design that enhances [a] user’s experience with water and provides them with the comforts of home no matter where they are in the world.”

Being very popular with the Middle East market, Delta Faucet’s bestsellers for the hospitality market ranges from the Iconic Arzo collection to the Contemporary Grail collection or the more modern and celebrated Mandolin collection range.

“We recently introduced a new selection of shower products designed to meet the needs of the international hospitality and residential markets,” says Jackson. “The new line available in all our international markets… is aligned with the latest design trends while providing quality performance.”

Pioneers in the advancement of performance standards for water-saving products, Delta Faucet has developed ground-breaking technologies to help encourage water conservation, which ties in perfectly with one of the themes for the Expo 2020: sustainability.

“Water conservation and sustainabi-lity is one of the major concerns…for the region as a whole,” says Jackson. “The UAE uses some of the largest amounts of water in the world and is listed by the UN as a high-rank country when it comes to water stress, a situation which occurs when the availability of water is not in balance with the demands for water.

“From proprietary Touch2O technology that turns faucets on and off with just a touch to H2Okinetic technology that sculpts water into a unique wave pattern- giving you the feeling of more water without using more water, we hope to underline this important issue and change the way people think about water usage across the country,” Jackson adds.

Along with issues in water conservation, another issue that needs to be addressed in hospitality design in the region is the issue with lighting.

At a seminar at Downtown Design, Dorian Pauwels, executive director at ikonhouse, commented that “a lot of places in Dubai have terrible lighting. It is a cascade of light that becomes uncomfortable.” How can this be avoided, especially in large commercial and hospitality areas?

“The ability to change a luminary’s intensity and colour allows us to design an interior with much more focus and precision, and to fully utilise the opportunities of a given space,” explains Jaroslav Bejvl Jr, the art director at Preciosa Lighting.

“As a result, one of the trends in lighting is the use of modular lighting systems where several different kinds of light are integrated together. The luminary can thus fulfill the simple function of illuminating a space, from a safety standpoint for example, or to ‘only’ be decorative, which is very important in creating the desired atmosphere and mood.

“The technology of lighting fixtures is developing hand-in-hand with these trends and the world’s leading manufacturers are now emphasising the uniqueness of modern technology,” he adds.

He continues: “Low energy lighting and alternative energy sources allow us to experiment, which is typical of contemporary lighting design. With light we can ‘make’ a space and the use of LED technology, a fourth generation artificial light source, allows us to work creatively in that space.”

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