A report from the 2010 Hospitality Design Expo
Both Dorothy Gale and the hospitality industry know there is no place like home. The furniture, lighting, carpeting, wall décor and other furnishings for hotels, restaurants, clubs and yachts exhibited at last month’s Hospitality Design Expo would not look out of place in your own home. (And heaven knows that Dorothy needs to refurbish her Kansas abode after what the tornado did to it.)
Exhibitors at HD Expo don’t try to be fashion forward, as they do at the High Point furniture market. Unlike the residential furniture shows, where makers introduce new styles every six months, HD Expo manufacturers admit their hotel lines are followers of (residential) trends, not leaders.
At High Point, exhibitors introduce lines, furniture buyers place orders and goods are delivered six months hence. At HD Expo, exhibitors are not writing orders. Rather, they are showing off their capabilities. They all offer custom programs to the big hotel chains and independent operators.
If not leading the trend, exhibitors do at least try to stay on trend. They find their design inspiration from the world around them, including New Orleans cemeteries, the Sistine Chapel, menswear and nature itself.
“Maintenance” and “durability” are words heard frequently at the show. The products will be replaced long before they wear out. A typical carpet installation lasts five to seven years; when property owners replace it, it’s because it looks dated, not because it’s worn out.
Durability continues to make even bigger strides in the textile category, especially with products such as Sta Kleen used in CF Stinson, Kravet Contract and Scott Fabrics.
Printed carpets were highly touted at the show. Manufacturers take any image or pattern and essentially inkjet it on a background. This is a more economical solution for them because they don’t have to invest in yarns and keep inventory.
Textiles, rugs, carpet and wallcoverings have all been inspired by color and high-contrast concepts. Splashes of color, graphic patterns and color details are popping up in both small- and large-scale patterns. Patterns are bolder yet modern while remaining quite sophisticated.
Vendors of residential-grade furniture make their goods ready for heavy use in hotels and restaurants by reinforcing joints and using commercial-rated foam in the seat cushions. Similarly, companies such as Baker have done an exquisite job of taking the inside outside with outdoor furniture. Styles from their garden chair category are well-made and use rich, warm and bold colors.
The hospitality industry is following its residential brethren by licensing famous designers. Thom Filicia created a line of carpeting for Shaw, Jamie Drake does faucets for THG and Stacy Garcia’s name is attached to wallcoverings, carpeting and other goods. I’m not sure this has value for hotel guests unless property owners tout those names.
Besides home furnishings, HD Expo exhibitors showed personal-care amenities; faucets and showerheads; in-room room safes; bathrobes; and everything else a hotelier needs.
Of course, “Eco-friendly,” “Green” and “Recycled” are becoming more commonly-used words in the hospitality market. From green countertops made from 75 percent recycled material or furniture made with wood harvested from sustainable forests, this category is become more chic than ever.
Finally, guests just might feel at home if their hotel participates in one of the contract programs offered by national retailers. At this show, Design Within Reach launched a contract program, something Restoration Hardware has been offering for several years. A third chain, Bed Bath & Beyond, also has a hospitality program.
From 9:30 a.m .to 4 p.m. exhibitors were all business. But at 4 o’clock, they set up bars and happy hour began, continuing until the hall closed at 5 p.m. The final 60 minutes of the day were about networking over a cool cocktail. And why not? This is, after all, a hospitality show.