Interior design trends for hotels from IDS 2024

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The renowned 2024 Interior Design Show celebrated its 25th year in January. The show highlights the best in Canadian design annually, giving attendees a sneak peek into coming trends and providing industry insiders with valuable insights. STAY Magazine was there—following are some of the show highlights and trends in communal and adaptive interior spaces.

Acoustic wall art

When it comes to innovation in interior spaces, acoustic panels have come a long way. Acoustic panels absorb sound, improving an interior’s acoustics. A key trend at the Interior Design Show this year was wall art with noise-dampening capability. The following companies have found a way to design wall panels with aesthetic appeal coupled with sound-dampening practicality—ideal for hotel interiors.

The Marie Dooley collection of textile wall art and murals are vibrant artworks that have been designed to embellish interior spaces. Each shape of the design is cut, sewn and assembled by hand in their Quebec workshop and signed by the artist. In its acoustic version, each panel is lined with high-performance 1 1/2” acoustic wool which offers an NRC index of 0.85, to reduce noise pollution and help make the environment a peaceful place.

Quiet Earth Moss walls use natural materials and plants with a leading acoustic backing material to dampen noise. They are a solution for architects and interior designers looking for design solutions inspired by nature, using green walls, and plants to increase human connectivity with the natural world. The organically preserved natural moss brings custom green spaces indoors.

Courtesy of Quiet Earth Moss

Courtesy of Ace Hotel Toronto

Purpose-led and local design

Some standout vendors at the show focused on highlighting the people behind the products that bring meaning and connection to interior spaces. Cue textural-heavy and handcrafted vendors, such as Obakki—a purpose-led lifestyle brand that connects people through modern design. Everything curated by Obakki is handcrafted and produced in partnership with its network of artisans—real people making products that bring meaning and connection to an interior space.

Obakki had an impressive booth with a larger-than-life rope sculpture wall hanging. The company is a purpose-led lifestyle brand that connects people through modern design. They offer handcrafted wares ranging from scented candles to furnishings that are produced in partnership with a network of world-class artisans. Sustainable, ethically handmade décor made by artisans from around the world. They place importance on respecting the creativity and technique of every artisan and aim to give communities a stronger sense of cultural independence and pride.

Another standout booth was Pi Fine Art, with over four decades of experience crafting custom artworks, wallcoverings and alternative wall decor. They offer expertise in art consultancy and the precision of fine art craftsmanship tailored to suit the distinct needs of every hospitality project. When it comes to hospitality trends, one of the themes they are highlighting is introspection, celebrating the restorative power of calm environments. The theme encourages guests to slow down and press pause on their busy lives to appreciate the environment they’re in.

Soffi Studio is a Canadian company that creates sculptural blown glass installations and contemporary decorative accessories. They work with interior designers and art consultants from around the world; providing original design solutions for commercial, hospitality and residential projects.

Accessibility in interior design

The Canadian National Institute of the Blind (CNIB) presented a panel hosted by the president of CNIB’s Access Labs, David Demers, on how to seamlessly integrate accessibility into the design of built environments. Access Labs is a social enterprise dedicated to supporting businesses, organizations, and government institutions to ensure all Canadians with disabilities can benefit from barrier-free communities and workplaces.

A key takeaway from this session was that integrating accessibility in digital and physical environments during the design process is critical and saves time and money over remediating after the fact. According to the Royal National Institute of Blind People: “When you design for anyone you design for everyone” and improving experiences for everyone means improving a business’s bottom line.

There is a projected increase in the population of differently-abled people, which means a growing market. Building codes are considered the baseline standard but companies should look beyond the basic codes when it comes to accessibility to truly be inclusive. One way to accomplish this is to ensure accessibility is not an afterthought. Clearing our Path is a set of recommended guidelines that bridges the gap between building code standards and inclusive design by incorporating best practices and consulting with differently-abled people. The manual contains information on design basics, and interior and exterior design elements, and is considered a valuable resource for architects and designers, providing insights for them on design elements that are crucial for accessibility.

Demers also mentioned Accessibility Standards Canada as a valuable resource for research into accessibility standards that are recognized as the National Standards of Canada.

For differently-abled people, using textures and sounds to orient is one key to good design. When it comes to acoustics, designers need to consider the dampening vs echo impact of their designs to avoid creating disorientating environments.

Courtesy of Pi Fine Art

Courtesy of Pi Fine Art

Demers mentioned some common mistakes when designing accessible spaces. He cited hotels as an example of often designing with mood lighting in mind that isn’t practical for those with visual impairments. Examples of this are recessed lighting, low-hanging pod lights in eating areas, and lights going from bright to dark repetitively in hallways which creates light and dark zones that can be challenging for a visually impaired person to navigate.

Hotel touchscreens are another opportunity to enhance accessibility as they often have accessibility buttons on the touchscreen and are not created with the user in mind. Elevators with braille and embossed letters and numbers in high-contrast colours are optimal, as not every visually impaired person can read braille. Elevators also need to vocalize which floors to get on and off at and ideally have mirrored interiors which allows people in wheelchairs to be able to see behind them when they reach their desired floor. Accessible spaces include clearly defined paths of travel using either tactile elements or contrasting colours or textures. Guide dogs tend to follow lines, so using carpeting as a pathway can be a helpful strategy.

Overall, Demers advises designers to consider the entirety of a visitor’s journey. Consider a comprehensive approach starting at your business’s website, considering the transit to the building, and the path through that building to the lobby and elevators.

The quote by renowned architect Chris Downey “Nothing for us without us” takes into consideration the incorporation of diverse lived experiences. Social participation, which includes travel and tourism, requires a basic level of accessibility. A key message of this seminar was that accessibility can be a part of the design and can also be beautiful.

Courtesy of Pi Fine Art

Co-creation—the next level of collaboration

Robert Cooper, CEO of Alterra, and Brigitte Shim, Canadian architect and founding partner of Shim Sutcliffe gave a seminar on the future of collaboration, using the ACE Hotel in Toronto as a case study. The discussion centred on the potential of symbiotic collaboration between architects, designers, and developers, and how it can shape a compelling vision for tomorrow using the lessons derived from the ACE Hotel, an exemplary project that showcases the power of collaboration. From its custom-designed lighting and furniture that reflect the hotel’s unique character to the meticulous process behind the building’s design, the ACE Hotel collaboration is a real-world example used to inspire and propel sustainable and collaborative industry forward.

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