2020 Vision

Welcome to the new Roaring ’20s! Consumer spending was up in 2019 — and that includes travel, dining, and retail shopping. With that trajectory predicted to continue, designers are pulling out the stops in their creativity when it comes to restaurant, hospitality, gaming, office, and retail projects.

We’ve all heard that today’s consumers are more interested in “experiences” and willing to pay for it. In an age where nearly everything – including doctor visits – can be accomplished online, consumers need extra encouragement to venture out.

Boston Consulting Group (BCG) pointed to the rise of niche hotel properties as a trend with staying power. In a recent report, the company concluded, “In their quest to attract
travelers by offering unique guest experiences, hotels have turned themselves into niche facilities. They now offer special services like relaxing getaways, well-being retreats, and adventurous holidays. 2020 will particularly see the rise of an engaged customer base who craves unique
local experiences. To be successful in this industry, hotels will have to design exciting local as well as personalized
experiences for their guests.”

In a January article in The Economic Times, it was observed, “While e-commerce may have brought a revolution with online shopping, when it comes to high involvement, big-ticket
items, consumers across the world still prefer assisted in-store experience apart from touch and feel before making
purchases…The trend is evident with global brands like IKEA or homegrown brands like Pepperfry setting up experience centers for customers not only to enable touch and feel but to also provide a more inclusive purchase experience.”

Similarly, in an age when – thanks to services such as GrubHub, DoorDash®, and Uber Eats – people can even have fast food delivered to their homes, restaurateurs are facing the same challenge of having to create enticing environments to bring customers into their doors for a dining “experience.” In short, it’s the same phenomenon that occurred in movie theaters, which universally found ticket sales dwindling nationwide with the popularity of streaming services (i.e. Netflix, Amazon Prime, AppleTV).

In this issue, we explore several historic venues – a revered apparel store in Philadelphia, a St. Louis hotel recreated inside a centuries-old landmark, and an immersive tiki lounge hidden within the “concrete jungle” of Times Square New York. We also take a sneak peek at the future: a transformative pedestrian suspension bridge high in the mountains of China that has a unique canopy clad and fabricated with a highly reflective shifting carbon-fiber aluminum composite embedded with photovoltaic and piezoelectric cells to gather solar energy.

Welcome to the new world!

— Linda Longo
Editorial Director