Defining Design with Claire Fox, Director at Style Matters
At the Independent Hotel Show we managed to catch up with Claire Fox, Director at Style Matters, specialists in bespoke upholstery and fixed seating, to chat through trends and inspirations to make your hotel stand out from the rest.
What new materials and technologies interest you the most right now?
Technology is having a major effect on the materials that are being used today. Our possibilities are expanding, and one material that particularly stands out at the moment is a natural and sustainable non-woven textile called Piñatex. It's made from pineapple leaves fibres, made by Ananas Anam and is a strong, durable, eco-friendly material that's great to use when upholstering as it works just like a leather.
What are you currently working on? Are there any particular themes or clever nuances within the design that you can share with us?
We work alongside many interior designers who have their own individual style of design, so we produce pieces that work best with their schemes. In terms of themes, we are seeing rich colours such as deep red, dark blue and emerald green being used across leathers, velvets and woven fabrics.
When coming up with the design concept for a hotel is the guest experience the foremost thought? Or is it a case of designing something you like, then challenging a guest's perceptions of what a hotel should be during their stay?
The concept of a hotel is presented to us by a designer, and we have to make sure we understand their vision and taking the guest's experience into consideration is very important. As the furniture is such a key part of any venue, we ensure it meets the standard that the client desires.
Within a Hotel, how reliant do you feel the guest experience is on clever design?
We believe that first impressions play an incredibly important part in the guest's experience. The visuals, colours, materials, lighting and other non-visual elements used in the lobby must be well planned out and beautifully executed. We have detailed our top tips in hotel lobby designs to provide guidance on how to make the best first impression.
Secondly, the experience needs to be as comfortable as possible. We make sure to use the highest quality foams, springs and materials to create high quality furniture, which allow maximum comfort. All of these elements combined help go towards a successful guest experience.
Some of the most revolutionary designs within hotels are the simplest. What examples of clever design within a hotel have you introduced?
There are many subtle details that can be added to hotel designs, small additions which may go unnoticed, but overall complete the finish of the design. We like to focus on the stitching detail, or the spaces between buttons. These elements highlight the craftsmanship that goes into our products. Sometimes these features may be overlooked, but the eyes subconsciously notice them, and that is what makes a product stand out from the rest.
When you envisage the hotel of the future what do you see? Say 10/15 years from now?
Technology is already having a large impact on hotel design. We expect to see more gadgets being introduced to the design, tablets in each room for guests to access hotel services and the like.
As furniture manufacturers, we have to make sure we can deliver the designer's brief. We always stay true to our values; good quality materials, care and attention, and beautifully handcrafted. These are timeless elements that can be adapted to any new product.