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Anarchitect: Creating hotels inspired by the local context

Anarchitect: Creating hotels inspired by the local context

Jonathan Ashmore, founder and principal, Anarchitect, dissects current trends in hospitality design

Jonathan Ashmore
Jonathan Ashmore

What are the top trends in hospitality design today?

From working closely with clients in the Middle East and London markets, we notice that our well-travelled clientele today clearly gravitates toward spending on authentic experiences rather than the old notion of ‘luxury’. The ‘New Luxury’ in hospitality design is about experience, great service and contextual, of-place design that provides a bespoke and transformative adventure.

How has the recent boom in hospitality in the Middle East had an impact on design?

Sharjah has been fast-growing its hospitality offering, becoming an important player on a global scene. Eco-tourism is at the heart of the Sharjah Collection for which the Al Faya Lodge designed by Anarchitect is part of.  The exciting design opportunity lies in bringing these heritage structures back to life with new contemporary interventions, something that is close to our heart as a contextually design-driven practice. There is an increased understanding and interest in working with the local context and being inspired by the local vernacular. This enables us to creatively repurpose already existing buildings. We feel there will be increased experimentation within the desert context in the near future.

How has the growth of social media and technology changed hospitality design?

Users today are paying attention to photogenic features and moments that boost their own personal brands through photography, therefore pressurising hospitality industry to create recognisable aspects of their property. At Anarchitect, we rather focus on materiality, natural light, clever detailing and functionality, which enhances how clients feel and use the space, in turn creating a beautiful canvas for the user.

Hotels now need to cater for the personal tastes of their individual guests as visitors are more willing to share information ahead of their visit with the hotel operators on the premise that they will received a fully tailored experience once they arrive. For architects and designers, this means that we must embed a degree of flexibility into the design of spaces to accommodate for this new type of client requirement.

How can hotels use design to deliver better business results? 

The design aspect of Al Faya Desert Retreat & Spa has a strong draw for the clients along with its unique setting, which AirBnb properties can hardly deliver as they are often short-term lets of residential properties, not specifically designed for hospitality. 

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