Contract Magazine - June 2020 - 40
DESIGN IN ACTION
The Future of Hospitality
Greg Bradshaw, Adam Farmerie, William Harris,
and Kristina O'Neal, Principals, AvroKO
Founded by four original partners-Bradshaw, Farmerie, Harris, and O'Neal-
New York-based AvroKO has established a new paradigm in the hospitality
industry. The four principals met during college, then joined forces on a
professional level in 2001. Since launching, AvroKO has earned a reputation
as one of the most innovative hospitality design firms in the field. Today
AvroKO has studios in New York, Bangkok, San Francisco, and London,
with more than 200 design staff across the globe.
From where do you draw inspiration, and how do you develop new and
innovative ideas into your projects?
KO: Inspiration is everywhere. We draw from history, fashion, art, and nature,
among a million other sources. The real innovation comes from combining
seemingly disparate ideas that become something new and distinct, while still
retaining recognizable touch points that guests can relate to and be engaged with.
For example, what happens when one combines the ideals of the Bauhaus
teachings with the history of 18th-century horse stable design? Or how does a
vision of Chinese fashion in the year 2030 blend with American recording studio
aesthetics from the 1970s? Layering, both physically and conceptually, dancing
between various eras, and artfully mixing the ideals of the past with a vision
of the future is very important to our process.
What are some recent trends and new directions in hospitality
that you're excited about?
GB: We're quite excited about being unshackled from static brick and mortar,
singularly confined locations. This could include nomadic restaurants, ghost
kitchens, and decentralized hotels spread throughout a neighborhood.
This all allows for new interpretations of hospitality for virtually every sector.
What are the most challenging aspects of designing and running your own
AF: Being one's own client can be a blessing and a curse. In the concept phase,
there are so many ideas, and unlimited opportunities. There's a danger of being
overwhelmed with possibility. Editing and focus then becomes critical. Once a clear
vision coalesces, we're good at running with execution, having lived it for so long.
However, once the doors open, it's no secret that the daily operations are an
ongoing challenge inherent to the restaurant world. It's an industry that operates
on razor thin margins, and so it's vital to have an amazing team that can create
and maintain great quality while really keeping an eye on costs.
Branding has become so important in designing an interior. How do
you incorporate branding into your hospitality spaces?
KO: The bedrock of our firm was built upon a holistic approach that celebrated
the building of a strong brand, and then truly baking it into the whole experience.
Brand integration is so much more than just slapping a logo on everything.
The brand ideals and strategic vision really drives an entire space.
All your projects seem to tie back to a story. How does storytelling shape
WH: Storytelling is just one of the tools in our design arsenal, but a versatile
one. Storytelling can be a framework for building a journey, and many times it can
be quite subtle and work on a more subconscious level. For example, we explored
Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs pyramid as a map to craft a vertical journey
per floor of Mortimer House, a six-story members club in London, with each
progressive floor becoming a physical manifestation of his hierarchical strata.
On the more overt side, for Nan Bei, a high-end Chinese restaurant in The Rosewood
Hotel Bangkok, we mined the Chinese legend of the Weaver Girl and the Cowherd,
two forbidden lovers who were only able to meet once a year in the night sky over
a bridge of magpies. Narrative maps can inform everything from materiality,
customer flow, or even how certain sight lines are constructed. Our architecturally
integrated art features also allow for a hint of something deeper, but never tell
the whole story. That's for the guest to complete with their own participation.
Can you give me some examples of the many areas of design you're engaged
in today that you wouldn't have imagined a decade ago?
GB: We wouldn't have anticipated it a decade ago, but our notion of "hospitality
everywhere" has manifested into some interesting applications. We're now
developing new solutions in healthcare experience design through our sister
company Brand Bureau, as well as the aviation and automotive industries at AvroKO.
The blurring of boundaries of design and business intent has been significant,
and it's a wonderful and fulfilling way to help shape the future.
What are you and your business doing differently in response to the
AF: In the near term we are likely doing what all firms are doing: focusing on
optimizing our remote working processes and technology while keeping human
connection and productivity alive. What we may be doing differently for the future
is drastically reconsidering the form and role of an effective office as a lab for
innovation and collaboration, rather than, say, a typical sea of desks where staff
feel obligated to spend X amount of hours per day with headphones on, all too often
in an attempt to avoid distraction. We're committed to building a new forwardthinking office paradigm, where collaboration is nurtured and old, unproductive
norms are discarded. High-tech, interactive war rooms, immersive materials
libraries, virtual reality and production labs, etc. This is a perfect time to pause,
consider, and reinvent.
What is your pulse on the industry?
AF: The industry will be hit very, very hard for the next year or so, but we're also
anticipating a significant return to travel and dining out once the crisis dissipates.
There will of course be some lasting effects: new procedures, perhaps some added
inconveniences, but none that enterprising groups can't overcome and likely even
spin into positive features. Our take is that the industry will rise to the challenge
and pull from the great resources of passion and ingenuity that the hospitality
world is known for.
How do we redesign hospitality spaces post-COVID-19?
KO: Safety and, equally important, the illustration of safety measures will become
a baseline consideration for the foreseeable future. We also must be careful to
be measured and intelligent in crafting long-term design solutions, versus extreme
short-term solutions that may not be necessary within a year. Thresholds will
get some added attention as entering and exiting rituals evolve as well. Of course,
integrated sanitation, simplified design details that make cleaning more efficient,
and hands-free anything will certainly have a moment.
How do you think COVID-19 will ultimately change the industry?
How do you think it will affect it in years to come?
WH: In the near term, consumers will likely choose quality over quantity. Fewer
trips or nights out, but when they do have the opportunity to indulge, they'll go for it.
On the flip side, we'll also likely see very inexpensive offerings thrive first, including
local bars, food trucks, and casual pop-up restaurants with outdoor spaces.
Operators and designers will be looking at outdoor spaces with an eye towards
redesign for the long haul, with plenty of greenery to help break up spaces and keep
people at a distance from one another. The industry will definitely be in a very
creative mode as solutions need to be managed quickly, but we hope in the long run
the primary tenets of hospitality stay firmly intact-to allow people to feel welcome,
safe, delighted, connected, and significant in the places they eat, drink, and sleep.
Contract Magazine - June 2020
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Contract Magazine - June 2020
Contract Magazine - June 2020
Designers You Should Know: Harken Interiors
Action in the Age of Crisis
The Future of Workplace
Beyond the Basic
The Future of Healthcare
The Future of Hospitality
The Future of Retail
Competition: 2020 ALA/IIDA Library Interior Design Awards
Designers Select: Healthcare
Contract Magazine - June 2020 - Contract Magazine - June 2020
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Contract Magazine - June 2020 - Contents
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Contract Magazine - June 2020 - 10
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Contract Magazine - June 2020 - 13
Contract Magazine - June 2020 - Editorial
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Contract Magazine - June 2020 - 16
Contract Magazine - June 2020 - 17
Contract Magazine - June 2020 - Industry News
Contract Magazine - June 2020 - 19
Contract Magazine - June 2020 - Designers You Should Know: Harken Interiors
Contract Magazine - June 2020 - 21
Contract Magazine - June 2020 - Action in the Age of Crisis
Contract Magazine - June 2020 - 23
Contract Magazine - June 2020 - 24
Contract Magazine - June 2020 - 25
Contract Magazine - June 2020 - 26
Contract Magazine - June 2020 - 27
Contract Magazine - June 2020 - 28
Contract Magazine - June 2020 - 29
Contract Magazine - June 2020 - The Future of Workplace
Contract Magazine - June 2020 - 31
Contract Magazine - June 2020 - Beyond the Basic
Contract Magazine - June 2020 - 33
Contract Magazine - June 2020 - The Future of Healthcare
Contract Magazine - June 2020 - 35
Contract Magazine - June 2020 - Future Scenarios
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Contract Magazine - June 2020 - 39
Contract Magazine - June 2020 - The Future of Hospitality
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Contract Magazine - June 2020 - Fostering Wellness
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Contract Magazine - June 2020 - The Future of Retail
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Contract Magazine - June 2020 - Matrix: Workplace
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Contract Magazine - June 2020 - 55
Contract Magazine - June 2020 - Competition: 2020 ALA/IIDA Library Interior Design Awards
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Contract Magazine - June 2020 - 60
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Contract Magazine - June 2020 - Designers Select: Healthcare
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