Ask The Designer – Tony Matters, Creative Director at Faber

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How can designers achieve the right balance when it comes to designing a versatile hospitality space that can cater to an array of needs? 

Hospitality spaces are no longer just somewhere to enjoy a meal, drink or good night’s sleep. Our lives are no longer split neatly into work, rest and play. More often than not, these three activities happen simultaneously, so hospitality designers are tasked with creating spaces that accommodate the many aspects of our muddled-up lives. When executed well, multifunctional spaces can be a real hit. They offer a solution to a problem, allowing us to carry out the activities we have to do, without compromising the activities we want to do. 

Technology is a big part of building versatility into design and the more nomadic a space is, the more important the role of technology has become. In these instances, design should be a celebration of the blurred boundaries between the different aspects of our lives. 

Many coffee shops and hotel lobby areas are already accommodating the growing number of remote workers, with workstations, charge points and impromptu meeting areas integrated into their design. They are no longer transient spaces, but instead provide a comfortable spot to enjoy a drink, connect your laptop and catch up on your emails in between meetings. 

At Faber, we have witnessed a proliferation of integrated social and functional spaces. Many of our clients are choosing to open businesses that merge two activities into one, like a barbershop and a coffee shop or a gym and a prosecco bar, so that people can get a little pleasure out of what might normally be a chore. 

The key to creating a successfully versatile hospitality space is finding an idea with longevity and genuine utility. Will people just visit once because it’s a novelty and never come back? 

Or are you providing a solution to an everyday problem? 

Decide who your customer is before you begin the design process; this will help you to make important decisions early on. The layout of your venue, your seating strategy, service style, décor and menu will all help determine how your customers use the space, so multifunctionality should be part of the design brief from the outset. 

Finally, it’s important to remember that you’ll never please everyone. Instead, identify the customer you want to serve, and if you can simplify just one aspect of their complicated lives – even just for an hour – they will keep coming back.