Can hotel lobbies inspire better office receptions?

Office reception desk by Ron Arad

What happens when you walk into a hotel lobby, an office reception, or any space for the first time?

We’ve all been taught never to judge a book by its cover. But let’s face it, we can’t help but jump to conclusions. Try as we may to rationalise and give someone the benefit of the doubt, if our first impression has been tainted, it is often hard to shake that feeling off.

Thankfully for us (and for them), fine hotels have come to understand the amplitude of this arrival experience. Gone are the days when hotel lobbies were nothing but a dull, uninspiring space for customers to dash through on their way to their room.

Today, hotel lobbies are designed to set the bar high. They are designed to welcome, make a striking first impression, and let us not forget, make profit. So what can commercial real estate landlords learn from the hospitality industry? How can hotel lobbies inspire better office receptions?

Let’s go around the world to find out.

1. Make a statement, show your personality

Green wall inside Icon hotel in Hong Kong
Hotel Icon in Hong Kong houses Asia’s largest indoor vertical garden in its lobby. Credit: Patrick Blanc.

The rule is simple. If you want to stand out, you have to be different. And hospitality developers often bank on this element of surprise to attract more guests and consequently, more profit. Inspiring hotel lobbies often boast a particular style, they set the scene, they feature thought-provoking art, high-end lighting fixtures and an inviting space to unwind or hold informal meetings.

2. Integrate revenue streams

CitizenM hotel canteen
A canteen lies at the heart of CitizenM Hotel's lobby in London. The bar is surrounded by various relaxing eating, and working spaces.

A coffee and a croissant can go a long way. Integrating amenities and services such as coffee shops, bars, restaurants and even retail is a sure fire way to enhance your revenues. When guests are short on time, there is nothing more convenient than in-house offerings and exciting retail experiences at your doorstep. Mixed-use office receptions can hope for the same results: it’s all about drawing more traffic.

3. If you want to be the best, hire the best

Office reception desk by Ron Arad
Ron Arad designed Milan's DuoMo Hotel striking reception desk, a stainless steel loop, reminiscent of a futuristic flying saucer. Photo by Simon Tegala

World renowned, French botanist Patrick Blanc designed the living wall in Hong Kong’s Hotel Icon. Similarly, the DuoMo hotel in Milan hired Ron Arad, one of the most influential designers of our time to design a slick reception desk for their striking hotel lobby. If you want that unique first impression, you have to be ready to invest in the best. Ceilings, walls, floors, lighting, furniture can all compete to become the feature of the space.  

Yes, we do tend to judge a book by its cover but in the hospitality industry, as much as in commercial real estate, prejudgements are are the good kind of bad. They inspire landlords to realise the potential of those key public spaces and put an emphasis on them.

Republic interviews Anna Rewinska from A:R

Anna Rewinska is a London based creative whose work is an interpretation of the energy and texture enclosed in music.

Since a very young age, Anna Rewinska has been interested in painting and drawing. She pursued this passion independently and through artistic education in both Poland and the UK at the London College of Communication. She also earned a BA (Hons) in Interior Architecture from the University of Brighton. 

The main focus of Anna’s artistic practice is visualizing music frequencies and the energy enclosed in the sound. She creates visual narratives that correspond to the atmosphere of electronic music vibrations. The mesmerizing impressions of music are the foundation for the development of quirky concepts which are transformed into large-scale murals.

Anna Rewinska currently lives and works in London as a Creative Director at Blue Drop Studio, a digital creative agency that she co-founded in 2015, and also continues her independent artistic ventures internationally.

R(love)ution limited edition giclee print by Anna Rewinska
R(love)ution, Limited edition of 30, giclee print, 41cm x 34cm.

Republic: Tell us a little bit about what inspires your work as an illustrator & street artist?

A:R: My biggest inspiration is music - the stories encapsulated in the sets. Music carries energy. It is a language understood by the soul, it creates a bond between people where no words are needed. Music also stimulates the brain more than any other form of art. It simply whispers to me countless ideas which then emerge as visual concepts.Aside from music, I draw inspiration from the world around me. Everything I see can trigger the creative process: colours, patterns, people, other amazing artists…

soundT/Wrap spray paint and acrylic on canvas
SoundT/Wrap, 2015, spray paint & acrylic on canvas, 90cm x 90cm. 

 Republic: Does your background in interior architecture influence your work as an illustrator & street artist and vice versa, has your passion for street art influenced your architectural designs?

A:R: My passion for art has definitely affected my architectural designs to some extent - in fact, my final project at university was about a perfect space for drawing & painting! Later on, my interest in spatial design definitely brought out the desire to use space as a canvas. Apart from street art, I would love to work on a vast branding project where digital illustration would be an important element to the brand and space would be considered as a canvas to bring fun and excitement!

handpainted mural at Shoreditch bar Apples and Pears
Bespoke murals executed within the space of a Shoreditch-based bar Apples & Pears, 2015. 

Republic: Urban graffiti used to have a negative connotation, often associated with vandalism, dark tunnels and subway cars. It is now more and more being recognised as a form of art that exudes personality, even indoors. What do you think changed?

A:R: This is a very good question. In fact, the last decade has brought big changes in many areas of our life - the world became an open place for free exchange of information and thoughts. Probably one of the most influential events that contributed to the transition of urban art was the 2008 Street Art Exhibition at the Tate Modern, where six internationally acclaimed artists from all over the world were invited to transform the river façade by creating breathtaking pieces, intricately linked to the urban environment

Individual_ness for Hackney Wicked
Individual_ness spray painted for Hackney Wicked, London, 2014

Republic: Can you tell us more about this transition and what graffiti and street art was like before?

A:R: Well, the Graffiti movement that flourished in the 70s was based on a territorial concept and only later evolved into a more elaborate form of art but I think it is safe to say it gave a permission to use the city as a canvas – whether it be with or without an actual permission. This concept of urban canvas is now employed in the street art movement. It is important to say that many urban artists now work on legal spots with a permission granted by the property holder.

Anna Rewinska at Emerging Music Frequencies in Mumbai, India
Filming the emerging music frequencies in Mumbai, India 

Republic: What is it, do you think, that drives urban artists to do what they do?

A:R: Urban artists are often also studio painters. They use the architectural fabric to extend their artistic reach and make art available for everyone, for free. Street art is an expression of freedom, an art form that rebels in a peaceful manner and reminds us of what is important in life or simply brings a smile on our faces. Currently, urban art is an extremely dynamic and evolving art discipline that grows within the city environment, an art discipline that consists of many mediums, from traditional freehand spray painting to paste-ups and even photography.

Apart from personal works created by artists or collectives, there is also plenty of socially-oriented projects that help communities and try to invigorate poorer neighbourhoods around the world. Those noble initiatives bring sunshine and hope to the young generation and help them believe, achieve and create.

Street art in Shoreditch, by Anna Rewinska
Street art piece in Shoreditch, Rivington Street, 2015.

Republic: So you are saying that street can have a clear impact on a social and economic level.  What about in the workplace? Do you think art can have an influence indoors?

A:R: Very much so. If the work environment is friendly and inspires everyday life, that will improve efficiency at work. It will also inspire new ideas and not exclusively within a creative environment – corporate businesses can benefit from it too.

Strawberry Mood spray paint and acrylic on canvas
Strawbery Mood, spray paint & acrylics on canvas, 50cm x 50cm, 2016. Also available as limited edition giclee print at Well Hung gallery in Hoxton, London.

Republic: Workplace and graffiti art are slowly starting to coexist. Why do you think that is and how can offices benefit from that?

A:R: That is very true. More and more companies, even industry giants are bringing this form of art indoors. I had the pleasure to work on a huge, site-specific mural for Just Eat (12m long!) in their shared leisure space. I think it definitely injects uniqueness, originality and expression of self that, in turn, might resonate with the workforce and improve not only their efficiency but also their mood.

Catcher in the Rhythm limited edition
Catcher in the Rhythm 2, 2015. Limited edition of 30, giclee print, 44cm x 83cm.

Republic: Do you believe graffiti or street art can help build a company's brand or is it purely an aesthetic feature?

A:R: As every tool, if used wisely, it can have many benefits and help connect with a younger target audience. It would be very effective for companies looking for creative ways to communicate and sometimes even interact with people throughout the city.

Personally, I think it is such a great, versatile medium that comes in so many shapes, forms and styles that it can help spread brand awareness and also bring a lot of interest. Unfortunately, opinions are divided: employing street art in a brand campaign might, in fact, clash with the philosophy behind it because it remains a free form of expression. So instead of using graffiti as a selling point, a company can benefit from associations commonly made to the movement. Not to mention, street artists create a brand of their own.

Anna Rewinska from A:R

Artists like Anna Rewinska are the reason why we love collaborating with artisans and creative minds. If you would like to incorporate one of Anna's paintings in your next Re:public project then get in touch - we'll be glad to meet over coffee.

In the meantime, you can follow Anna on FacebookInstagram and Twitter

Calling all landlords –  6 ways to improve your office reception

The office reception is the first space potential tenants will discover when they visit your space. If you want to make a good first impression (hint: you should), there are several ways to make the reception area as attractive and leasable as possible.

 

Here are six ways you can improve, thus make your office reception more leasable.

1. Know your audience

lead-invest-office-main.jpg

Online lending & investing platform Lendinvest's London office, by Oktra

In order to hold your tenant’s attention, it is always useful to know your audience. To put it differently: what kind of tenant are you building for? Are you looking to attract a big tech company or targeting a creative start-up? Why would a traditional law firm or financial institution like the space you’re offering?

Having your dream end user in mind will help you stay focused: nobody likes undecided landlords and if your office reception seems to be on the fence, chances are your prospective tenant will be too. It might be tempting to appeal to a broader audience but, just like employers like to read a tailored cover letter, tenants like to see build-outs that have been designed with them in mind.

So now, you have done your research, you have established what is in high demand and you have settled on your dream tenant. How will you capture their interest and convince them that you care? How will you set the tone?

2. Think neutral colours

Many studies have shown that colour impacts our mood. Although it can be useful to know that reds increase energy levels and yellows encourage productivity, the majority of prospective tenants will prefer a more neutral office reception, one they can personalise themselves. Go for neutral, versatile tones like blues, greys and whites: those will complement just about every company’s brand colours.

3. Don’t forget the flooring

office-reception-trifle-creative-wooden-floors

Award winning global digital agency OMD's reception area, by Trifle Creative. Credit: Rob Wilson

A high-quality, neutral finish is also desired on the floor. Seamless terrazzo, smooth, matt epoxy, luxury vinyl tiles, contemporary stone or long pile carpets for a more luxurious feel. Those are just a handful of high-quality flooring options you can use to create a professional look that will appeal to your prospective tenant. Impress your tenants from the very first step they take into your office.

4. Avoid built-ins

Office design is all about efficiency and the demand for flexible spaces is higher than ever. Built-ins are expensive and will end up costing your tenants even more if and when they decide to remove them. More often than not, a company will prefer to match their built-ins to their own furniture.

5. Think beyond the reception desk

Flexibility is a recurring word in today’s workplace design. Functional, mixed-use reception areas that can double as break-out areas are growing in popularity. And what if you introduced a coffee shop in the reception area? Such an amenity will quickly become a marketing asset and will be a surefire way to enhance your revenue.

Asana-office-reception-area-bar-mixed-use-space

Asana's headquarters in San Francisco, by Geremia Design. The reception area features a bar.  Credit: Cesar Rubio

6. Be open to change

Your office reception should be adaptive and so should you. The more flexible you are, the harder your offer will be to resist. Expect tenants to ask for changes, expect them to dictate their requirements, expect them to be dissatisfied with one aspect or another. This isn’t personal, this is business. Easily satisfied tenants are as scarce as hen’s teeth, unless of course they’re easily satisfied with the very best.

So how can you make it an offer that is hard to turn down?

Don't rush to start refurbishing before you have a set idea of who you are refurbishing for. Opt for neutral tones and finishes, both on the walls and on the floor; bold and vibrant colours are great for office receptions but you would be playing the guessing game so don't yield to temptation! Keep your space flexible and be open to change yourself.

A good teacher, like a good entertainer first must hold his audience's attention, then he can teach his lesson, John Henrik Clarke