MILAN – St-W celebrates 20 years of shaping the global design industry with MINDS – a new platform for top creatives and industry leaders to share ideas on the latest trends and contemporary issues in hospitality.
From 4 to 6 April in the hours of the Italian aperitivo, the brightest minds of the design world will gather at Room Mate Hotel Giulia for complementary cocktails and listen to speakers such as Sushir Kadidal, design director at Yabu Pushelberg; Daan Lucas, founder of Random Studio; and Fokke Moerel, partner at MVRDV.
Moerel joined the architecture firm in 1998, and her portfolio includes notable work such as the Spijkenisse Book Mountain and the Amsterdam Lloyd Hotel. She believes that hospitality is changing ‘in two seemingly opposite directions,’ citing millennial travellers and their demand for both authenticity and digitalized convenience as the cause. ‘Hotel developers and retailers could benefit from mixed use spaces,’ she says, ‘which allow for flexibility and openness’.
Hospitality is changing in two seemingly opposite directions
Lucas agrees that flexibility is key. ‘A nice-looking hotel is great,’ he says, ‘but it should offer a context that invites guests to explore, to interact, to reflect. Art installations or exhibitions, events where locals and hotel guests can mingle. . .’
Lucas speaks from his perspective as the founder of a technology workshop and creative studio for interactive experiences. ‘There is a hotel in Sicily where every room is designed in a different way and they move your luggage every night so you can experience the whole hotel,’ he exclaims. ‘I think hotels and other hospitality companies need to cater to the fact that people are looking for entertainment, experiences that stick. It’s about surprise, sparking curiosity and making people wonder; so they are not a “guest”, but part of the hotel experience.’
But there are no easy, one-size-fits-all solutions, says Moerel. ‘Develop the perfect brief, find the best location, design spaces to service all current needs and also provoke visitors to take active part – for MVRDV each request is an adventure in itself. Each opportunity should be valued on its own potential and hook on to specific circumstances.’
People are looking for entertainment, experiences that stick. It's about surprise, sparking curiosity and making people wonder
And what are our speakers’ favourite hospitality spaces?
‘The Oyster Bar in New York,’ enthuses Moerel. ‘It’s my all-time favourite restaurant. Beautiful arched space, quite classic and not necessarily hip. But the spatial experience is sublime.’
‘You come from this frantic world on the street level with crazy traffic and numerous people, the dirty scene of a megacity. Then you need to make your way through the running crowd of commuters and find the front door of the Oyster Bar, which is quite hidden. Inside there is a series of atmospheres, all in one open space, yet the arches make a natural division. From quick and cheap chowder at the winding diner bar, to the fancy lobster dinners personally served by the host. It’s a vibrant juxtaposition of dynamics and atmospheres.’
Lucas gives answers that are closer to home: ‘I love to go to the restaurant Pekelharing in De Pijp [a stylish Amsterdam neighbourhood]’.
‘The people are super nice, the food is really good and not overpriced. The design of the place is playful, not too conceptual but well thought-through. It always feels good to be there; it does not force itself on you, so my wife and I have room to have good conversations… I also like Volkshotel. It’s around the corner from my house. I don’t like the design so much, but it does have a soul, the people who run that place love working there and you can feel that. They also feel really open, it’s definitely a place for locals too. A nice mix of people.’
In its own way, Milan Design Week provides hospitality to the hundreds and thousands of exhibitors and guests who visit the city from all over the world. Our speakers are looking forward to a week of inspiration, innovations, fresh ideas, and networking. ‘I hope to see a lot of creative work, gain some new insights, and meet new people,’ says Lucas. Something St-W MINDS can definitely help him with.
Cocktails will be served in the lobby from 17:30-19:30, which has been transformed for the occasion with an installation that invites inside the beauty of Italian nature.
In addition, to create the engaging hospitality experience as described by Moerel and Lucas, will be serving a delicious interactive artwork for MINDS guests and visitors to nibble on. Known as the Creative Chef, Udink ten Cate uses bright colourful foods and edible paint on canvases to create a fun dining experience ‘where a sense of togetherness will evolve’ as participants contribute to the creative process as a group.
An edible painting by the Creative Chef and his dinner guests
At the end of the evening, Chef Udink ten Cate will varnish the canvas and present it to St-W as a souvenir. So for a memorable evening, and raise a toast to St-W’s 20th anniversary.