Sophisticated Casual

If there’s one trend apparent in the hospitality sector, it’s that what looks casual and relaxed in ambiance really took a lot of engineering and design planning to implement successfully. The “pop-up” retail phenomenon in major cities across the globe has demonstrated that “temporary” no longer means “cheap” or slapdash in approach. In this issue, we profile a pop-up restaurant in Italy that cleverly highlights the American diner experience – by region, no less – inside an empty vault space underneath Milan’s Central Station timed to coordinate with the city’s well-attended international furniture fair. The lighting, interior design elements, and cuisine for each “diner” is as well-thought out as it would be for any permanent installation.

Similarly, the design vibe for a new Chi-town hotel and a Brooklyn restaurant – both featured in this issue – is understated in aesthetic (no bold bright colors or attention-screaming details) while providing an overall sense of subtle elegance that makes guests feel comfortably at home.

Even the recent trend for experiential travel where guests stay outdoors amid beautiful vistas has translated into “glamping” accommodations where there might be private chefs making your meals, solar-powered electricity in each tent, and other previously unheard of amenities. It’s certainly not like the traditional camping trips enjoyed by earlier generations — and yet it still maintains a sense of ruggedness.

The one-percenters, Millennial millionaires, and Gen Xers with plenty of disposable income are eschewing the gilded lifestyle trappings of conspicuous wealth valued in the past and opting instead for “experiences” in dining and vacationing that make them feel relaxed. The design of today’s hospitality, retail, office, and even hospital space is all about extending that “comforts of home” feeling.

—Linda Longo
Editorial Director