There has been a revolution in interior design and decoration in the last few years. For years, interior designers and architects tried hard to create cosy homes, which reflected the personality of the people living in them; a refuge of well-being. As design and interior design have become more democratic, due in large part tothe help of specialised media, these trends have been able to reach all audiences.
Nowadays, we are experiencing a new phase. That same warmth and well-being we felt in our own homes is moving beyond the walls to reach all sectors: from offices to hotels, hospitals and schools. We want places where we feel comfortable; places where a part of ourselves is present in the space surrounding us. And companies are starting to understand design as a key tool that brings added value to their businesses.
All these points were discussed in “Contract, dulce Hábitat”, a round table discussion that was organised by Actiu and celebrated the last edition of CasaDecor.
This event took place in the Auditorio, a space furnished by Actiu and designed by the students of the school ESNE. The students were awarded a Special Mention by the Jury for to "their solution for a complex space in an effective and aesthetic manner. For this purpose they used simple but functional materials (sisal, hardboard plates, strings, etc) which increased the acoustics of the premises”.
Hotels are going through a total revolution when it comes to their interior design. These spaces have understood their importance in creating experiences, with surroundings that promote rest and recreation, but also providing added value to their visitors. Creating ambiences, atmospheres, generating cosy areas or ensuring highly customised experiences.
The Spanish hotel chain, NH Hotel Group, is a very clear example of this. “We have been redesigning the interior of our hotels for the last three years, with an investment of 250 million Euros, including approximately 9,000 rooms where technology and well-being are united” says María Arboledas, architect in charge of the group’s Architecture Area, one of the group's products and innovations . “Our spaces combine well-being with new technologies, defining areas for different uses, the same way as office: places for concentrating, talking, relaxing… and all of them equipped with the technology of the future, such as ultra high-def TVs, wireless chargers and maximum connectivity, among many other aspects. The change in strategy was key: we went for quality not quantity. And the results are very positive, both in figures as well as customer satisfaction,” Arboledas says in the end.
Offices are our second home. In our roles, we need to work, but we also need to socialize, discuss and collaborate. Thus the old models of individual and operational posts are evolving and combining with open and communal areas. Spaces such as the kitchen, common rooms and outdoor areas are taking on a new lead role to allow their occupants to recreate and relax. Once again, the home is making its way into these spaces, and with it, so are dispersion and well-being, which lead to productivity and efficiency.
José Antonio Alonso from the Arinni studio knows a lot about this. His experience in home, office and retail projects started 20 years ago. “Over thelast couple of years, people have been requesting multipurpose spaces. Whether for homes, offices or shops, they are asking us for functionality: considering use before aesthetic. People request spaces where they can work but also where they can have moments of concentration and relaxation. In offices, operational spots joined to open areas that are furnished with sofas and home furniture where employees can have a more relaxing time. In stores, small areas where people can also sit down and rest. Everything is connected, and the concept of “home” is reaching all areas”, explained the Cantabrian interior designer, now based in Madrid.
Jean Porsche is a Mexican architect and interior designer who has spent more than 20 years designing residential and contract spaces. His first office job was to incorporate a work space and a house, thus creating a space for conciliation. "For many years, there was no place for a home designer in office, retail or contract projects. Over the last couple of years, this tendency has had a spectacular turnaround. Our expertise is now required to bring this warmth and sense of well-being to all types of spaces", explained the designer.
There is no doubt that the interior design sector is constantly evolving. Trends change. Needs modify and environments evolve. Future designers and architects have a major role to play and their training is essential. María Antón, Director of the Interior Design graduate program at ESNE, a commercial college for Design, Innovation and Technology, considers that these subjects need to be taught in a primarily "practical" and "experiential" way, and that we should "move beyond the educational canons that are so theoretical and far removed from reality".
In this way, the architect explained the profile of the Interior Design students in her school. "They have a very technological profile, a new way of communicating and a self-taught way of learning. The schools are centres for meetings, debates, practical experience and reunions. The days of theoretical classes where a professor recites a monologue to his or her students have gone. Now they only take up a few minutes in the weekly timetable. Practical learning is the most important, such as experience overseas and discovering other cultures and global design. Ways of learning are evolving just as ways of working are; with collaborative networks, active training and plenty of real practice", she pointed out. In this way, ESNE school is collaborating on shared projects with other universities in Dubai and Hong Kong.