Hotels of the future

Widely recognised as one of today’s most outstanding designers, Karim Rashid can literally turn his hand to anything. Famous for his fabulous colours, trademark stylised fluorescent ‘blobs’, sexy shapes and constantly evolving designs; the industrial designer has worked with some of the world’s largest and most famous brands.

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By  Charlotte Butterfield Published  April 6, 2006

Widely recognised as one of today’s most outstanding designers, Karim Rashid can literally turn his hand to anything. Famous for his fabulous colours, trademark stylised fluorescent ‘blobs’, sexy shapes and constantly evolving designs; the industrial designer has worked with some of the world’s largest and most famous brands, producing products for companies as diverse as Black and Decker to Prada; he is currently working on the interior design of a new Sonic Cruiser jet for Boeing. Just a few products that he has worked his magic on include everything from furniture and lighting, cosmetics, hotels, restaurants and even manhole covers and dustbins. He is passionate about design and its impact on the world around us, pointing out “we interact with an average of 563 products a day. Design is not relegated to an elite culture; it is part of everyday life.” This month, Rashid was in Dubai for crystal manufacturers Swarovski, speaking about ‘Hotels of the Future’. With crystals increasingly being used for practical and decorative purposes in lighting and interiors, Swarovski is collaborating with Rashid in the search for a new designer with the talent to harness the power of the crystal in all its forms and applications. The mission is to showcase the crystal at its best, using it in unexpected ways in a futuristic design for the ‘Crystallized Hotel Suite’, to be unveiled at Index 2006. Rashid cites ‘innovation’ as the number one criteria in designing the modern hotel suite. Times have changed from the late 40’s when Holiday Inn created a revolutionary ‘home away from home’ idea and familiarity became a global design concept. With the onset of globalisation, and the development of the digital world, people’s horizons have expanded. “The world has shrunk and brought with it a new confidence. We have more information now and the world is a less scary place. If I go to a new space I require a new experience. There is the strong expectation of the original. Innovate or die is the new philosophy,” says Rashid. “This requires new technology, material and aesthetics. My obsession is that I want to live in a world of now. Not a world of the past. I want to come to a hotel and be inspired.” Rashid’s own infamous hotel project — the Semiramis in Athens is a 21st century creation in its entirety. From the glow-in-the-dark swimming pool tiles, to the light box installations behind the beds, the hotel combines art with architecture, integrating an element of surprise, which Rashid feels is necessary in today’s world of design. This approach has achieved much notoriety from his contemporaries, mostly of the complimentary variety, although some remain bemused by Rashid’s progressive, futuristic bias. Rashid is a passionate believer in the need to engage technology in hotel design. “Technology has humanised us. It has empowered us to become creative. I want to be able to say “TV” and the TV switches on. I want the lights to move with me. I want the acoustics to work with me. Automation is a beautiful thing.” He is working on new ideas all the time, including a carpet that looks completely different from day to night as it changes colour when the light hits the threads. Ideally he would live in a world with no corners, viewing curves as much more attractive, and preferring the wall to merge with the floor with no ugly lines. He believes that we live in a casual age and as a result hotel design should be about comfort and pleasure, “without pushing for the old formalities.” Rashid is unenthusiastic about hotel design currently found in Dubai — a refreshingly critical voice against the venerated Burj Al Arab, he remarks, “Dubai still needs some brilliant icons. Hotels today make you feel like you’re living in the previous century. That’s the last thing I want to do.” For further information on the Crystallized Suite Competition contact Acer Jamal 971 4 881 6562

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