Solutions for a Dynamic Hotel Lobby

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A modern hotel "living room" at the Virgin Hotel in Chicago.
A modern hotel “living room” at the Virgin Hotel in Chicago.

In an era where connectedness crosses over both the virtual and physical worlds, redefining the hotel lobby has taken precedence as the expectations of guest experience have transformed.  Changing dynamics and socialization have taken on new forms and the once stark lobby is being reimagined to create community engagement.  From engagement comes experience, but it doesn’t happen on its own.  For a new generation where experience is top priority, it is great design with multi-functional and multi-faceted qualities that make an impact and create the story that forms the connection.

Within the lobby this connectedness derives from the dynamic of flexibility.  Lobbies are gradually evolving into hybrid areas that are catering to the wide array of guest needs, including relaxation, work and play.  Greg Keffer, principal and studio leader at Rockwell Group, puts it perfectly in his interview for the article Hotel Lobby Renovations Are Honing In On Social Dynamics, “It’s very important to not have just one big space for everybody… It’s all about personalization and connecting with people.”

To accommodate for personalization within a pre-determined environment, key design considerations include: 

Creative space segmentation

Personalization can be a tall order in a shared environment.  So, instead of personalization, consider segmentation.  Here’s why; The Millennial generation is known for being of the “together-alone” mindset.  Consider this; Veronica Waldthausen, an associate in the London office of HVS stated, “The new type of traveler doesn’t mind being alone, but they want to be alone together. They will sit in the lobby by themselves, but they want to be surrounded by other people.”

In a segmented environment, there is a sense of choice for guests.  Regardless of generational preferences, and whether time spent in the communal space is social, business related, with others or alone, there is a sense of comfort and accommodation. Often, there are zones that flow together seamlessly with a mixture of furniture styles, diverse seating arrangements and even desks.  This offers a perceived sense of intimacy within the open space, while also enhancing the “living room” experience.  This multi-functional segmentation is the modern version of luxury.

Modular Detailing

With segmentation comes somewhat of a hybrid mindset; A single environment with multiple facets. While furniture arrangement is a crucial design detail, more flexibility can be added by thinking modularly. Modular design is discrete, flexible, mobile and reusable, and its impact can be huge when integrated effectively.

While the modern lobby is socially driven, adding modular components adds control to the environment and ups the guest experience.   Modularity can be as simple as lightweight furniture that can move based on group size, or as creative as mobile wall partitions. Imagine having the ability to have an impromptu business meeting in the communal lobby with the option to wall off your conversation. This flexibility is an expressive trait that reflects the hotel’s brand personality and ultimately enhances the guest experience.

Allison Pocewicz

Allison Pocewicz

Allison has had a lifelong interest in multiple facets of design. Growing up between a sewing machine and a sketch pad, she went on to fine-tune her skills through studies in fine arts and fashion design. Upon entering the design/build industry, she continuously researches trends in various markets, including retail, hospitality, exhibitory/events, interiors and architecture in order to provide valuable educational and inspirational resources to clients.

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