Shea Links: November

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:

“Hostel or Not? Shared Rooms Pop Up in Traditional Hotels” – Skift:
With more millennial and Gen Z travelers looking for a social experience (and an affordable one) while traveling, some hotel shave begun offering guests the choice of sharing rooms in suites that typically have individual sleeping spaces and shared areas for dining and entertaining. While some hotel brands, like Element, KEX, and Super 8, are borrowing from the hostel model, others are branding themselves as hybrid hostel/hotels (The Freehand, Generator)—giving groups traveling together a chance to share a room with people they know, spending communal time together. These hybrids have the benefit of a “traditional” travel experience, with predictability in policies and protocol, with the social aspect of an AirBnb.

“Post-Office: Hospitality Groups Blur the Lines Between Workspace and Hotel” – Wallpaper:
The gig economy and side-hustle culture has completely transformed what people look for in a workspace. As more and more workers need their own flexible space, hotels are taking advantage by creating co-working concepts that tie to their hospitality brands—either in totally separate spaces or on an entire floor or area of their hotels. Soho Works (from private-club hospitality brand Soho House) recently had a major launch, and Wallpaper digs into other brands and how these areas are changing who’s using the hospitality spaces as well.

“Shea Clients Stack the Eater Awards’ Finalists List” – Shea:
A look at the Eater Awards finalists’ list, which includes nods to Shea clients Demi for Restaurant of the Year and Design of the Year, P.S. Steak for Design of the Year, and Jamie Malone for Chef of the Year.

“Open Kitchens: The Show Goes On” – Foodservice Equipment & Supplies:
With cooking-as-entertainment continuing to take over television airwaves and other media, open kitchens only grow in popularity. Foodservice Equipment & Supplies looks at the trend and discusses how open kitchens can be seamlessly incorporated into a restaurant space so that they add to, rather than detract from, the experience. It’s partly for the kitchen theater and partly for food-prep transparency, but it’s all about removing barriers between cooks and guests to put them in the restaurant’s heart to check out the action and keep them engaged. The article also discusses the caveats of open kitchens: knowing what to shield guests from, keeping management and operational practices smooth, and more.

 “In the Age of Online Shopping, Where Do IRL Salespeople Fit In?” – Vox:
With the rise of online shopping, customers now fall into two camps: those who want to interact with salespeople, and those who definitely don’t. It’s up to retail workers to determine whether their assistance is wanted or needed, and stores are trying new tactics to help—from self-checkout machines and in-store pickup options to different-colored shopping baskets that signal whether shoppers want assistance. As stores continue to anticipate the needs and wants of customers, design needs to take into account that some customers just want to be left alone—and those who do want to be helped tend to crave “intentional interactions” where they feel as if they’re really being assisted in a valuable, effective manner.

“Updating the Menu at the Airport” – Wall Street Journal:
As airports and hubs become more plentiful, they’re constantly looking for differentiating factors—and many have found it by way of dining options. Airport dining is getting more exciting, with national airports looking to embrace both local favorites and national chains—it’s all about blending the familiar and the new to appeal to all types of travelers. As food options become more diverse, so too does the structure of the culinary lineup: grab-and-go, sit-down, etc., all with designs that catch travelers’ eyes and entice them to stop. There is a downside: Customers balk at the high prices that often go along with higher-end offerings. Food halls with local fare will become more prominent in airports in 2020; as will innovative designs (with dramatic focal points) and destination restaurants (some airports are offering non-fliers passes to get into restaurants and shops beyond security).

“The Power of Nontraditional Growth in Quick Service” – QSR:
As the quick-service market is increasingly competitive, companies are looking for new ways to expose themselves to a wide variety of consumers. QSR looks into how this can be done for fast-service restaurants by way of nontraditional venues and franchising, opening locations in office buildings, college campuses, airports, gyms, museums, and more. Airports and travel plazas especially give brands a wide reach, since they attract new customers from all corners of the world. But these nontraditional locations come with challenges, such as cramped spaces and a need for creative approaches to menu and service, depending on the type of venue (more grab-and-go items for faster throughput, etc). Furthermore, brands must decide whether they want to work with franchisees or partner with an operator (like HMSHost or SSP) to help.

“Lat 14 Scores Big Stars From the Star Tribune” – Shea:
The Star Tribune gives a three-star review to Lat 14 Asian Eatery in Golden Valley, with a special shoutout to Shea for our stellar transformation of a former Perkins.

“How Social Media Has Changed Hospitality Design” – Forbes:
While pandering to the crowds by designing social-media bait isn’t a key to success, the impact that Instagram, in particular, has had on design and how consumers interact with hospitality spaces is undeniable—it’s now considered a major marketing tool for brands, and they’re looking for design that stands out. While any unique, interesting, and beautiful design should do the trick, attention-grabbing elements like neon signs, murals, and tile do provide ideal photo ops. But furthermore, hospitality design is an opportunity to educate and share ideas and art with a bigger audience—and making it onto customers’ social media is just one way to do that.

“The Suburban Office Park, an Aging Relic, Seeks a Comeback” – New York Times:
As more companies move towards urban centers to appease younger employees, suburban office complexes have to compete harder to draw tenants to their out-of-the-way spots. Office parks are working to redevelop, adding more amenities like restaurants, bars, shops, and apartments, that will make them feel like there’s a bustling city vibe, with plenty of entertainment, transit, and retail—with the additional benefit of a lot of parking. These new developments are in addition to the influx of more traditional upgrades: better-designed lobbies, grab-and-go cafes, fitness centers, greenways, and more. The hope is that redesigning and reimagining these office parks will help retain smaller companies, as well as draw major tenants to a new kind of city center that differentiates itself from competitors.

“Shea-Designed Snack Bar is the Hottest Slice Spot in Town” – Shea:
A recent Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal’s “Hot Spots” feature highlighting Shea-designed Snack Bar in the North Loop.

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