Shea Links: March

At Shea, we pride ourselves on staying on top of what’s happening in design news. It helps us keep tabs on what’s fresh, inspiring, and happening in the world—and we make a few headlines of our own, too. Here are some recent articles delving into design, experience, and what’s buzzing in our community:

“The (Near) Future of Hotel Travel Is Here” – Eater:
Hotels have been hit hard by the last year, with occupancies down by nearly 50% and staffing slashed to two-thirds. The loss of vacationers and business travel alike has forced hotels to rethink their models, and new hotels (like the Hotel June in LA) have incorporated COVID-friendly design and practices into their DNA. Some amenities include rooms for rent during the day for working and day-rate packages to enjoy the perks, to draw in locals. With low rates, luxe outdoor spaces (which, in milder climates, can be repurposed for dining, spa, and more), and ample areas to work remotely, hotels can present themselves as ideal staycation getaways.

“The Future of Fresh-Air Kitchens” – Foodservices Equipment and Supplies:
Multi-season outdoor dining is a trend that will stick around post-pandemic, with the majority of full-service restaurants devoting resources over the last year to launching or expanding outdoor dining (and large swaths of the fast-casual and snack sectors doing so as well). And in addition to outdoor dining rooms, many operators and facilities are considering adding outdoor cooking to the equation. This piece looks at the rules for outdoor cooking (permanent outdoor kitchens are a no-no—everything must be mobile and prepared inside) and how to work with those rules to design effective “outdoor kitchens.”

“COVID-Ready Office Design: Retrofitting Buildings with Social Distancing in Mind” – Arch Daily:
This piece—with helpful data and graphs assessing risk from the CDC—digs into how office buildings can be retrofitted to fit the new “six-foot” mentality that will be the norm for years to come. As more workers head back to the office full time, safety will be imperative and companies will be looking to reconfigure their spaces in keeping with distance requirements. The story includes a breakdown of the COVID Occupancy Assessment Score, as well as a case study showing how different floor plans can be employed to create the safest and most efficient office space. It also looks into retrofitting HVAC and airflow for maximum effectiveness.

“The Future is Now for New Restaurant Design” – QSR:
This QSR piece digs into three major focus areas for the next phase of quick-service design, based on research that shows guests are looking for flexibility, full experience, customization, personalization, convenience, and safety measures. The “Restaurant of the Future” is deemed to include fully customizable spaces with flexibility and multifunctionality, hygiene and sanitation that’s considered in terms of aesthetics and built in as a design element (using anti-microbials, self-cleaning finishes, etc.), and the maximization of off-premises dining opportunities. With two-thirds of consumers planning to continue curbside pickup post-pandemic, innovation will be key in creating a great brand experience via design, digital, technology, and packaging.

“Seven Ways to Personalize Hybrid Work Environments” – Work Design:
As more offices begin to consider the hybrid model, it’s going to be more important than ever for companies to create office spaces that feel branded and personal to reinforce their identities when employees are in the office or clients visit. This article goes through a handful of ways that office design can be improved and personalized to fit this model—starting with using surveys and data to understand what will function best for the company. “We Space” will be big in office design as “Me Space” becomes remote, bringing employees together and creating accessible amenities to build community through casual meetings. EDI (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) initiatives are more important than ever, as is ensuring top-of-the-line technology and office-space flexibility to suit multiple needs.

“An Uphill Battle for Bars” – Restaurant Development + Design:
If possible, bars have been hit even harder than restaurants as a result of the 2020 pandemic—and quick-fix strategies of offering drinks to go, expanding outdoors, managing guest traffic and flexible interiors, and touchless tech are only going so far. This article looks at the most effective solutions (moving seating and service areas outside and facilitating takeaway drinks) and potential future effects (looking to design with smaller front-of-house spaces and more outdoor areas, more flexible spaces with diversity in seating areas and groups, increased focus on cleanable surfaces and contactless operations, and a shift in the shape of bars with more decentralized bar seating).

“Why Starting a Restaurant During the Pandemic Was a Smart Move” – New York Times:
New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells discusses the unexpected restaurant and food-business “boom” during the pandemic—with openings having bounced back nearly to prepandemic levels (and with openings even higher in grab-and-go services). Those who opened food businesses over the last year cite plenty of challenges, but also some advantages—specifically, opening with lower overhead costs and prepared to shift with the changing times and environment. These businesses were able to survive—and even thrive—over the last year due to their creativity and understanding of what customers wanted, with business models, technology, and menus catering to COVID-friendly operations, and the author discusses the struggles and benefits with a handful.

“Designing the Hybrid Office” – Harvard Business Review:
In a carefully researched piece, the Harvard Business Review takes a real look at rethinking the traditional cube design to best support workers’ needs in today’s office. The idea of the hybrid office is that it will now be primarily a culture space, with most tasks and routine meetings happening elsewhere. This piece looks at the office as a social anchor to build relationships between colleagues, as well as the office as a schoolhouse to share knowledge—which is easier to do in an in-person hub than via technology. It will also continue to serve as a space for true collaboration and impromptu conversation. So tomorrow’s offices will be designed to create human connectivity, customized by technology, and managed to encourage connections.

“Shea-Designed Josefina Set to Open in Wayzata” – Shea:
News on the downtown Wayzata opening of Daniel del Prado’s Josefina

“6 Key Takeaways from ASID’s 2021 Outlook and State of Interior Design Report” – Interiors + Sources:
This piece boils down the ASID 2021 Outlook and State of Interior Design Report, calling out six major points detailed by the research division regarding the economy, construction activity, business, and design trends—with health and wellness taking center stage. Other highlights include: a look at the transformation of the population distribution and its effect on lifestyle; heightened awareness and efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion; a revisiting of fundamental values for companies; the importance of sustainability; the rise of virtual technology; higher spending on furnishings, durable household equipment, and the housing market; concerns over pricing; and a suffering of construction spending activity in commercial sectors.

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