Michaela McLelland, business and brand development director, Preciosa, tells us about the current status of hotel design in the region, and notes that there is a great standardization of design in the Middle East’s hospitality sector.
DesignMENA: How’s business with hotel design? Are there a lot of requests at the time for this region?
Michaela McLelland: Hospitality business is undergoing a beginning of a boom again. The growth has already started and it is visible with the vast amount of projects being currently launched and developed in concept phase. Overall we are experiencing a new five year cycle, which will peak during the Expo 2020. Only time will tell, how much the region has learned from the previous economic crisis and how much we can improve this time around.
DM: What are new trends in hotel design in the UAE/ Middle East?
MM: We feel there is a return to contemporary classics, with a signature touch, this is mainly true for the main hotel chains. There is also visible attempt to create a new look for the typical local patterns and styles. It is great to see not only the strong emerging pool of young local designers, but also the already well-established international design practices shaping the new Arabic look. At the moment it is visible mainly on smaller boutique projects, never the less, we are sure to see this happening more frequently also on more commercial hotel projects.
DM: Do you think there is a standardisation of design for hotels in the UAE?
MM: Yes, to certain degree, there is a great standardisation of design especially in hospitality.
Certain rules are being rigidly followed, but there are few emerging projects, which are trying to break from the ordinary and experiment more with space and its use.
DM: Are you working on any mega projects at the moment?
MM: Yes, indeed we are! Many of them are still in a strictly confidential phase, never the less Business Bay Hotel in Dubai or JW Marriot in Abu Dhabi are just a tip of the iceberg that is coming our way this year.
We are very pleased our customers have such trust in our expertise and are giving us really great projects to work on. We take great care to treat every single project as unique and the service we provide to our clients ensures we get a lot of repeat business on many large projects and not only in UAE, but across the globe.
DM: Are there any sustainable initiatives taking place in regards to hotel design?
MM: Sustainability is currently a growing buzz word in the region and we believe this trend is only going to strengthen. For lighting industry it is all about light sources and our R&D department is very much fixed on this topic in combination with new and innovative materials and lighting solutions.
DM: What challenges are you facing in hotel design in the Middle East that you don’t face in other parts of the world?
MM: The Middle East is a very competitive market, there is a very high concentration of companies competing for the same projects and not only from the region, but from around the world.
We still see, on some projects, the lack of expertise and appreciation of good design and service over pure comparison based on price. This is not likely to disappear and that is why we focus strictly on projects, where we can add value and our expertise.
DM: How have you overcome these challenges?
MM: Delivering a unique design concept with an amazing chandelier, lighting object or sculpture is true art, but what we also always consider critical is the execution and delivery phase. Overcoming challenges and delivering expert solutions for our clients. That is why we have created a very strong team, based in Dubai, each and every single one of them, is a true expert in their field. Becoming a partner, not just a supplier, has been key to our success.
DM: What are you hoping to occur over the next few years concerning hotel design in the UAE / Middle East?
MM: We are very passionate about what we do and we love designing, creating and delivering the most amazing lighting objects in the world. The UAE and Middle East deserve the best and our strong team is more than ready to take on new challenges in forms of the great projects, which are going to occur in the next few years with the Expo 2020.