Crafting the new hotel experience

Downtown Design

Crafting the new hotel experience

Award winning and multi-talented interior designer Yasmin Farahmandy speaks to Downtown Design about how millennials affect hospitality design

Working with Gensler, Yasmin is an interior designer has a keen sense of current trends and translating these styles into design language. Born and raised across Dubai, Canada and Milan Yasmin is needless to say international in her approach to both living and designing of spaces. With a passion for design in all forms: interior, furniture fashion or art she takes inspiration from the shared DNA of creating lasting impressions through her work.

On a winning streak Yasmin recently won the award for rising start at the IADA and was shortlisted by Art Dubai. With varied interests she is currently working on a line of furniture and continues to be commissioned by art galleries and hotels in the region.

1. Please tell us a little bit about your work with Gensler and the projects you work on

At Gensler, we aim to contribute significantly to the U.A.E. and the broader Region, using the power of design to create a better world. We have an unwavering commitment to enrich the human experience starting in our communities and connecting with our clients where they are, around the globe. We are dedicated and have invested in making this region stronger and its people, happier and more successful. We have a great support through an integrated global design network of 44 offices in 15 countries, bringing the talents and expertise of 5,100 professionals together to create a world of tomorrow that’s a better place for us all.

We are working on several interesting hospitality projects and our involvement as designers is paramount to what we do. I believe this approach is very successful and makes our company unique and world renowned.

2. Hospitality developers are now taking on new trends giving space for design to become a part of the entire hotel experience; as a designer what do you find most interesting about such projects?

When it comes to Hospitality, trends are either timeless or volatile. As designers we try to stay away from volatility, as it is risky and often does not make a real impact on how we can better live. At Gensler we do study the most important design trends and incorporate them into our designs however our focus is always people: what makes a difference to them. Translating this into hospitality means that our focus is the guest and the traveler: who are they, what excites them, what entertains them, why they travel and who they travel with.

Each project presents a great opportunity which in turn becomes a responsibility: creating new experiences for each user that excites while leaving a lasting impression to come back to the same space again- essentially return on investment.

With each project we explore a vast amount of design experiences centered on the guest from the hotel room to meeting space or restaurant and this perhaps is the most interesting aspect to crafting the new hotel experience. The challenge as designers lies in being able to translate what guests want with innovative and inspirational design.

Yasmin 1 Image source: Official website of Viceroy, Palm Jumeirah

3. What do you think today is the most important consideration when designing for hotels?

The most important consideration when designing for hotels today in this region is keeping in mind the client vision and the brand DNA combined with time frame and budgets. It is very important for the designer to understand the client as partners and to invest into their vision at the inception of the project.

At Gensler we work closely with all consultants including the quantity surveyors so that we can help control budgets planned for each stage of the project. This often is a difficult task but ensures that time frames are kept, that no redesign is needed and the right material choices are made. 

Yasmin 3

 Image source: Official website of Viceroy, Palm Jumeirah

4. How is designing for millennials different from designing for the previous generation? What are the design influences that affect hospitality when designing for them?

We start with answering the following questions- Who are millennials? What inspires them? How do they behave and what are their values? How are millennials influencing the previous generations too? These are all the questions we focus on as they are big travelers and exposed to very many cultures and places, either in person or in a virtual way.

Millennials are in sync with up to date technology, sustainability, improving communities and are eager to collect new experiences are share them via social media. Bearing in mind that technology in turn creates potentially isolated individuals it is our job as designers to design communal spaces that balance the vacuum created. We also recognize that connectivity is of prime importance and at Gensler we are at the forefront of how to share information internally across our international design community by having weekly conversations with our 44 offices to share best practices and trends. We believe this is a successful tool to apply in designing for future generations- opening yourself to knowledge and trends globally.

Yasmin 2

 Image source: Official website of Viceroy, Palm Jumeirah

5. Technology and luxury are on the top of millennial influences in their daily lives; how do you adapt this into hospitality while also keeping with the brand’s values?

Luxury is no longer related to brands and labels but a more unique, personalised experience that changes depending on location and space. With hotel design the cookie cutter approach is a thing of the past and boutique collection hotels are flourishing owing to their identity and customer experience. This applies to the way we design rooms as well as public spaces: keeping the experience trendy yet unique. I foresee the trend to be able to personalize your entire experience before arriving at the hotel:  from the smell, the music, the minibar or even projections on media walls of daily agendas or photos of beloved ones.

6. Millennials are looking for new experiences every day; how can hotels adapt to these continuous change in needs through design? What challenges do these hotels face in terms of having to provide these experiences and being able to continually deliver?

When designing spaces flexibility is key, we design a space keeping in mind that it might change even overnight for certain functions or special occasions. I believe that is important to focus on designing customized multi-use spaces, where hotels can adapt to different circumstances.

The challenge is to keep up with the huge flow of new information coming, be able to read and analyze it all and integrating into the design of your hotel continually.

7. Can you give us examples of some hotel brands who are ‘wooing’ millennials through integrated design?

Regionally, my favorite hotel in Dubai is the Viceroy on the Palm, a perfect example of a hotel design by Yabu Pushenberg where millennials are ‘wooed’, the amount of snaps and Instagram images I have seen is spectacular. The entire experience is characterized by design that wows- you enter the hotel to a large sculpted structure as though you were in an art gallery and then move on to the reception which designed with efficient use of space as opposed to the overused spacious lobby. Every aspect of the hotel be it their food and beverage or wellness and recreation has been crafted with style, timelessness and a sense of being in another world.

Yasmin 4

Image source: Official website of Viceroy, Palm Jumeirah

8. What is your dream project when it comes to designing for hospitality?

My dream project is to design a place where art and color converge with luxury and fashion. I would like to create a place that is full of life yet without labels, a space which makes visitors and end-users enter happy and leave happy. We are sometimes exposed to very many gloomy experiences and not only in the Middle East, I think it is our responsibility to spread positivity when we design places, to uplift the spirits of all generations and not just millennials.


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