A total programme for the hotel sector, Samsung Chemical Europe's 'Endless Hospitality' concept marries cutting-edge materials with state-of-the-art technology
Economic growth has returned. Economic growth is sluggish. Signs of economic growth are few and far between.
Depending on which part of the world you’re reading this in, you’ll identify more (or less) with one of the statements above. But even if you’re fortunate enough to be working in an industry and in a region where things are looking up, the last few, highly volatile years have had a major effect on consumer confidence and on how we view the monetary value of products and services. Perhaps rightly, the days of profligate spending by everyone seem to be over.
One industry that appears to have turned a corner in most parts of the world is the hospitality sector. Emerging from the depths of the global recession, the hotel industry worldwide displayed signs of expansion and growth in 2012, regional variations notwithstanding. But hoteliers understand the vicissitudes of their business. A renewed increase in tourism and by extension occupancy rates is certainly to be welcomed, but hotel businesses recognise that guests are, now more than ever, checking in with a high level of expectation. Value for money – and value nowadays means not only comfort and service, but also the overall experience – is back in fashion, and, in the era of Trip Advisor and other such review websites, owners can’t risk leaving guests wanting.
Previewed at the recent Igeho fair in Basel, with a full launch at next year's imm cologne, 'Endless Hospitality' provides total solutions for a diversity of the spaces within the hotel environment
Map this onto the pressure that hotel owners are under to reduce operating costs, regardless of the scale of their business and properties, and there’s a real need for a new type of hotel concept that delivers cost-effectiveness but at the same time guarantees a high-end customer experience.
Enter ‘Endless Hospitality’ from Samsung Chemical Europe – a total programme that takes a holistic approach to shaping the hotel environment and how it’s encountered and negotiated. Hear the brand name Samsung and your first thought will probably be electronics. Little wonder, as it’s the world’s largest information technology company. But the global conglomerate comprises a diversity of skilled subsidiaries, ranging from chemicals and engineering to insurance and advertising.
Formally pared-down bathroom spaces from the 'Endless Hospitality' programme feature innovative, vertically oriented washbasins, made of Staron, with hidden taps and a mirror with integrated infotainment
Teased, as it were, at this year’s edition of Igeho in Basel, the leading international hospitality fair, and to be exhibited in a more elaborate manner at imm cologne in January 2014, the 'Endless Hospitality' system from Samsung Chemical Europe reflects the breadth of the company’s areas of expertise and innovation, comprising state-of-the art materials and cutting-edge design, plus, as you would expect, innovative digital-presentation and customer-communication technologies. In short, it’s a total solution for the contemporary (and future) hotel landscape.
Jürgen Lammers, Head of Business Development at Samsung Chemical Europe, sees the programme – which has been developed to provide tailored, turn-key interiors for the hotel environment, including the reception area, guest rooms, bathrooms and wellness spaces – as responding to a real market need within hospitality industry. ‘A lot of customers, such as architects, shop-fitters and end clients, do not want to manage everything or deal with installation issues,’ he explains. ‘The idea is to show a complete design solution, including all necessary technologies like lighting systems, water, drainage, electricity, not to mention digital customer communications.’
An example of a five-star bathroom includes a flush system for the WC operated by touching the back-LED-illuminated Staron surface on the wall above the bowl
Having already broken new ground with its pioneering material Staron, a mouldable yet robust, styrene-free composite, composed of acrylic resin and aluminium hydroxide (a natural mineral, derived from bauxite), Samsung Chemical Europe put the super-smooth wonder stuff to work at the Messe Basel, where Lammers and his team served up a slice of the future of hotel design. Fair-goers were invited to interact with an impressive interior-architectural installation, which staged in an intriguing way the various spaces that the 'Endless Hospitality' concept can be used to transform, each lent form and structure by the versatile, high-performance material that is Staron.
Available in over 80 colours, Samsung's 'Staron' – super-smooth and robust – forms the material foundation for the 'Endless Hospitality' programme
Available in over 80 colours, white Staron was chosen to construct the landscape of Samsung Chemical Europe’s exhibition stand, one where clean, contemporary line demonstrated convincingly the premium value of the product in both visual and tactile terms. At first glance, these concept spaces – a reception desk, a wellness area, four- and five-star bathrooms, and a bedroom, which also included examples of furniture and doors made of Staron – appeared beautifully pared-down, but a closer look was to reveal how, without compromising their purity of expression, a raft of innovative design details and leading-edge technologies have been built into them.
Design for a four-star bathroom from the 'Endless Hospitality' programme (top) and wellness seating with internal heating, fabricated from Staron (above)
Lighting, rather than an afterthought, is integral to the 'Endless Hospitality' interiors programme. LED and OLED elements provide both an ambient and informational function, housed for example in wall-integrated downlighting in guest rooms and in-laid into wall panels in the bathroom to indicate WC flush buttons, but without the need for an actual physical element to press. Simply touch the back-illuminated Staron surface for the flush of your choice, big or small. Wash basins in both guest rooms and public areas continue this highly considered, integrated approach, with taps concealed under mirrors and water running straight off the inside surfaces of vertically oriented bowls (made of Staron, naturally) into hidden outlets.
‘The problem in hotels is that fittings become limescaled,’ explains Lammers. ‘The idea in the "Endless Hospitality" bathroom is to dispense with taps and other fittings. The wash basins and other furniture are designed in such a way that water flows off them quickly and doesn’t lie there, like in a traditional wash basin.’ This, combined with the elimination to a large extent of silicone parts, using Staron instead to create constructive edges, makes for a much cleaner and more hygienic bathroom space.
Greater than the sum of its parts: integrated technology in the form of near field communication for locking and opening guest-room doors (top) and seamless lighting within the guest room itself (above)
Reduction continues in other parts of the 'Endless Hospitality' programme thanks to NFC (Near Field Communication) technology, which allows electronic devices to communicate with each other by bringing them into close proximity. Samsung Chemical Europe offers several, game-changing applications of NFC for hotels, including check-in, payments, and even access to guest rooms; the old fashioned door handle is completely dispensed with as LED is combined with NFC technology (all embedded with the door itself, made of Staron), allowing the secure locking and opening of doors with the wave of an electronic card, but also providing useful occupancy information (‘Do not disturb’, ‘Room ready for cleaning’, etc).
Integrated design borne out of integrated thinking can also be found in embedded information and entertainment systems (built into bathroom mirrors, for example) and underseat heating for the wellness area, providing a top-notch hotel experience for guests. The ultimate integration, however, is that of the client’s brand, with both the flexibility of Staron as a material and of the 'Endless Hospitality' programme allowing a range of opportunities for incorporating a hotel’s logo and other visual-identity assets into the very fabric of its interiors and designing the way these spaces are experienced in such a way as to express and to reinforce the company’s brand values.
The material flexibility of Staron in evidence in the furniture pieces for both public and private spaces within the hotel
A concept as all-encompassing as 'Endless Hospitality', with its clever union of a number of Samsung’s diverse product offerings, is, perhaps not surprisingly, underpinned by a collection of the talents. To develop a programme as comprehensive and considered as this one, Jürgen Lammers has forged partnerships with different companies from Germany, Poland, Switzerland and Austria to offer a second-to-none skills network, with Samsung Chemical Europe at its centre. Such a collaborative approach guarantees added value for the client, the programme delivering in its totality something greater than the sum of its individual parts.
With significant interest already from architects in how the innovative Samsung interiors system might be applied to the elderly-care and hospital sectors, this is clearly just the beginning of a promising journey for Lammers and his team. When it comes to 'Endless Hospitality', the possibilities seem truly endless.
Samsung's future-facing shop-in-shop system is also suited to the hotel environment