Nov 4, 2015 by


Digital Detox

Hotels are using deep, warm, and natural tones to create the feeling of a respite from technology’s far-reaching grasp for their guests.

Photo Credit Formica Corporation

The priority of any hotel is to serve its guests as best as possible. In recent years, that has meant concentrating on keeping them “plugged in.” As U.S. News reports, options such as mobile bookings, complimentary iPads for in-suite use, and smartphone apps for unlocking rooms have become standard fare in the hotel industry. Free WiFi is a given, and at some locations, guests can also adjust their room’s lighting, air conditioning, or window blinds using their smartphones.

This infusion of technology into almost every aspect of hotel stays can make for an overstimulated and, at times, even stressful experience. To counter this, the designers of SurfaceSet 2016 Formica Laminate embraced warm, inviting, and natural tones that give guests a reason to look up from their devices. The new collection of laminated surfaces enables hotels to bring in touches of the outdoors to temper this digital bombardment and create a sanctuary for their guests.

Scott Dannenfelser, the North America commercial design lead of Formica Corporation, had exactly this sanctuary-type of space in mind when developing the material. “People are looking for that third place, outside of home and work, where they can disconnect from their devices and be real with one another,” he says. The collection, Dannenfelser adds, uses natural textures that implicitly urge the focus away from the technology present in a hotel room or lobby. It’s a subtle form of digital detox, Dannenfelser says, where guests feel a natural inclination to “take their iPhones and smartphones and put them aside, put them in a drawer, pick up a real book, and be able to sit and have conversations.”

Interiors and surfaces inspired by natural materials help take the focus off digital overstimulation.

Courtesy Formica Corporation

For Dannenfelser, the best hotels are the ones that successfully transport guests away from their normal lives and surroundings. “It’s about the environment, or the difference of the environment [from its surroundings] that is being created,” he says, explaining why certain hotels resonate more with him than others.

In addition to integrating design details that produce a distinct ambience in private suites, hotels are reimagining their communal spaces. Shared areas are more and more designed to be just as crucial to guests’ experience as that of their rooms. At the citizenM hotel in New York, the beautifully furnished lobby facilitates engagement among guests, fostering engagement between guests and their surroundings.

The lobby of the citizenM hotel is designed to attract guests and draw them out of their rooms into communal spaces.

Courtesy Richard Powers

Dannenfelser has personally experienced that engagement at The Bowery Hotel in New York. “There’s something fantastic about that place. The rooms are simple, but they’re simply perfect. They’re the right bit of comfort and the right bit of style. You’re in the middle of New York City, but if you’re sitting in your hotel you wouldn’t know it, and you also don’t feel like you’re missing out on anything.”

This is exactly the sensation that SurfaceSet 2016 aims to set the stage for with its tones of rare wood slabs, hues of flowers and fruits, or the soft colors of a pair of blue jeans. “SurfaceSet has really come into play because we’re trying to give designers the tools they need to create the spaces that people want,” Dannenfelser explains. In the case of hotels, these are spaces of comfort and sanctuary. They are spaces that people not only want, but need, as technology becomes an increasingly overbearing stimulus in our lives.

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