Hamish Kilburn, Editor, Hotel Designs, brings together leading interior designers to discuss a personal approach to surface design…

There’s a transformation happening, can you feel it? While socially the world is expanding, the lanes between hotels, cruise ships and residential are in fact narrowing – and the lines between the sectors are blurred. As a result – and thanks to ever-evolving technology – the limit to what is possible in interior design is beyond our imaginations. Whether it’s 3D walls, mural pieces or simply an industrial effect, surfaces are a great way for designers and clients to explore their creativity.

No longer is a surface in any space considered a backdrop. Instead, walls, floors and even ceilings are being used to add texture and meaning into a space, as interior designer Simone Suss explains. “People are looking for inspiration – and there’s a lot out there whether that be on Instagram or in magazines,” she says. “A lot of that inspiration is coming from the outside world.”

For hotel designers, creating spaces in one standalone location, the first source of inspiration comes from the culture of the place and its people. For cruise vessels, though, which are, by definition, transient nomad objects, establishing a clear design narrative is perhaps more of a challenge. Many designers are creating a relationship with nature to elevate spaces and make them feel more grounded, as wellbeing interior designer Wren Loucks has experienced “There are a lot of studies that show that just by looking at images of nature, it reduces cortisol levels,” she adds. “Therefore, it’s not too gimmicky to have images of nature in and around the public areas of hotels.”

Image credit: Mercure Antwerp City, designed by BuckleyGrayYeoman/Accor

When creating a statement in a room, when it comes to surface design what is lacking is often as significant than what has been added. I recently reviewed a hotel, COMO Castella del Nero, in Tuscany where the walls were left bare. In fact, frames were on the wall with nothing inside. Interior designer Paola Navone, who is well-acquainted with the COMO Hotels and Resorts brand, did this deliberately to emphasis the building’s beautiful 12th century architecture. The result is a timeless, elegant design scheme that runs seamless through the hotel’s various spaces.

Image credit: COMO Castella del Nero

When exploring ‘personal surfaces’, one of the pitfalls could be mistaking a commercial space as yours. The challenge for designers is to inject their energy and passion into a project while also ensuring that it will be fit for client and guest, which interior designer Michael Simon is used to balancing. “I think we all make personal choices when selecting surface materials, and hope that the client will also follow the same journey you are trying to take both them and guests on with your design,” he says. “During a brief with the client you are always looking to get a feel of the clients taste and how far you believe you can take them off that trail, if you felt you could push the design further. It’s not always possible, and budget constraints can be a deciding factor.”

Image credit: Arte

To read the full roundtable, which features comments from Arun Rana (Accor), Dale Atkinson (Rosendale Design), Jane Maciver (BGY), Simone Suss (Simone Suss Studio), Wren Loucksw (Be-Kin) and Michael Simon (LXA), click here.

Hotel Designs are the newest Media Partner of Cruise Ship Interiors Expo America and we are delighted to have them on board!