Alicia Lynch, associate Interior Design at Rothelowman, has over 17 years experience designing high-end hotels.

Lynch’s projects have included the Park Hyatt Sydney, Crown Metropol Melbourne, Hard Rock Hotel, San Diego, California and Tide’s Hotel, Southbeach Miami.

Architecture and Design spoke to her about how high-end hospitality has evolved, the influence of hotel design on residential design, and why passion is important in architecture.

How has high-end hospitality evolved over the past five years?

High-end hotels have adapted to focus on a luxury experience rather than room size. Instead of providing a typical expansive room with a lounge and a desk space, luxury rooms can include a smaller space as long as the bed is extremely comfortable and the room offers free and fast Wi-Fi.

The patron profile of luxury hotels is changing. Therefore expectations are evolving and hotel operators are accommodating these changes.

How do you think they will evolve over the next five years?

Customisation and instant control will continue, including further technology that automates comfort for guests. Five years is a relatively short time in the hotel world as projects can take over five years to start and complete, but I believe operating systems will continue to reduce in scale, to be replaced by smaller and easier point of sale machines, etc. Engagement in hotel social media and peer review systems will continue to make operators more transparent, providing potential guests with complete exposure to hotel services and facilities prior to booking.

How has hotel design influenced residential design?

Hotels and homes are very closely related. It’s a very personal experience to feel, see, and hear the space within hotels and homes. Designing a hotel guestroom is similar to a bedroom in that we have the same challenges with space and function. The challenges I face when designing a guestroom are the longevity and ease of operating the hotel, and I bring these principles and experiences into residential projects on a practical level.

Our homes are reducing in scale further, and much like a hotel room it’s about providing a large quantity of amenities in an efficient space. This is where I’ve seen a great deal of overlay from the disciplines including multi-purpose spaces. For example, how can my dining table double as a desk? Can we use a television entertainment unit as a bench with additional seating when guests visit?

When an individual stays in a hotel it is critical to provide simplicity and ease. Providing enough lighting to see but still providing an ambience, for example, is important to the users’ experience. I continue to bring this knowledge to every project I work on. 

Beyond the guestrooms and the apartments we continue to see the amenities of apartment developments evolve, which has been complimentary with my experience in the hotel sector, such as designing lounges, lobbies and wellness areas such as the pool, gymnasium and spa. When these amenities are incorporated into an apartment development we still need longevity and ease to enhance these services.

Do you think any other sectors will have an influence on residential design in the next 10 years?

Workplaces will continue to influence residential design as the way we work is evolving, including working from home and in flexible offices. We have already started seeing the healthcare sector rolling into the residential sector with luxury ageing apartment homes, including their own built-in healthcare amenities.

What project are you most proud of and why?

My future projects. I am very critical of myself and always want more time to continue to refine the design.

What has been the best piece of advice anyone has ever told you?

I continue to share this word of advice with my young and sometimes frustrated team members – in my first full time job after uni, my boss asked me to put together a presentation board for a fantastic themed restaurant. It took me an entire day and used a lot of decoration (it was the 90s and a themed restaurant!)

When I finished I presented it to her and she ripped it apart, and I quickly reacted and spoke my mind about how great it was and how much effort I put into it. She listened and then said, “Design is like a wild animal. You cannot tame it and you never should try to. As soon as you think it’s happy, it will attack, it will continue to change until it is dead (built). Therefore embrace it or it will eat you.” To this day I continue to embrace and feel passionate about my profession.