What makes good hotel design? We met Tobias Koch, Associate and Architect Concrete Amsterdam, in Stuttgart, where he was a speaker at the symposium "Trends in Hotel Design", which was supported and accompanied in the proven manner by emco as a partner. In an interview he tells us what makes good hotel design stand out and what he expects from the future.

Mr. Koch, what role do you think architecture and design generally play in the success of hotels?

I believe that architecture and design must be a healthy basis for a successful hotel. However, the design must be based on where I am, what I do, who the target group is. But that can't work without a good team - without people who are there every day with their eyes open and who convey the concept of hospitality from the heart. Especially in the current "styling age", people shouldn't stand around like objects, everything has to feel real - just like at home. I have to feel: "I'm a guest of someone." We at Zoku have done that quite well. There's a kitchen that gives the guest the impression that he's in the kitchen of someone at home, cooking for him. And that makes him feel welcome. After all, that's what I, as a hotel guest, am looking for in a hotel. And then it's still up to the hotelier to decide whether he treats the guest in a very high-class way or whether the treatment is rather casual. The design provides the backdrop for this. At Zoku, we also took the longstay guest into account. Someone who is in Amsterdam for two months and works there is happy that social contacts can develop with others who stay longer. That you can cook together or play table tennis at the big breakfast table. That connects. At the same time people from the neighbourhood come and stay there. Everything flows smoothly into each other.

Each of your projects will be individually designed in a team and tailored to the respective location. How do you evaluate the topic "storytelling" for your work in hotel design?

Storytelling is very important - for our work and for the later success of the respective hotel or restaurant. We always work as a team and ask each other many questions at the beginning of the projects. Everyone can contribute something to the individual concept. This also means that we develop something new by questioning and rethinking our own positions. We take a close look at the location, the customer, the environment, the task and then come up with individual solutions that are tailored to this project at this exact location. A nice example of storytelling is the INK Hotel in Amsterdam. Here we redesigned a hotel in a former publishing house. Many details pay tribute to the history of the hotel. We played with typography and incorporated texts into the hotel design. In the restaurant the napkins are in inkpots, and there are also words in the rooms and on the doors. The materials refer again and again to their former use: marble, brass and dark wood, for example, quote typesetting boxes and old printing presses.

They have already been involved in many exciting hotel projects and have seen a lot in terms of hotel design. Where do you like to stay yourself when you travel?

Personally, I think it's especially important to have an "authentic home for a limited time and with a local connection". For example, if I actually live with someone at home, I'm right in the middle of my destination instead of being left out. In addition, the story is delivered directly here. I get a direct insight into another person's life, his books, his record collection, his habits... It has a great charm. And that's why storytelling is so important in our concepts. Of course there are other aspects to it. If I were to choose from the hotels I've worked on myself, I would stay with my children in the Zoku, for example, with its flexible room concept. With my girlfriend, I would rather go to Roomers.

The biggest challenge of the future for good hotel design?

I think the hotel design of the future is about authenticity. About authenticity towards yourself, in design, but also towards the guest, the way I treat them. The design and the hotel team have to communicate all of this hand in hand. In addition, honesty towards the materials that are used is also important. Towards the scenario, i.e. the "interior feeling" - and in the end it's also about sustainability. We will have to ask ourselves whether the authentic materials used can be recycled. For example, can I recycle components during the renovation phase. Questions like these will increasingly have to be asked in the hotel design of the future.

Please give us a short statement about the "Fachsymposium Hoteldesign".

I think the symposium is a very successful event that brings together different people. The mix of lectures is exciting and shows how diverse the topic can be considered. In particular, the selection and contrasting nature of the speakers and points of view has breathed much life into the round table.

Hotel photos: © Ewout Huibers (above and small photo left: INK Hotel Amsterdam; middle and small photo on the right: Zoku Amsterdam)

About Concrete Amsterdam

The architectural office Concrete is based in Amsterdam and realizes projects all over the world, including numerous hotels and restaurants, but also museums, department stores and residential buildings. The projects are always developed in a team consisting of over 50 creative heads from various disciplines.

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