Commercial Interior Design

Design and build should remain independent of each other to create a better environment says Indu Varanasi
Fit-out brings a challenging paradigm to interior design

Construction activities in the GCC seem to have gained momentum this year with several new retail, hospitality and leisure properties having been launched recently.

In addition to a host of luxury hotel projects, there has also been an increase in the mid-segment hotels, creating a whole new category of fit-out requirement, which still need to be of high quality, but with less bells and whistles.

A number of older, iconic hotels are also embarking on refurbishments, including Jumeirah Beach Hotel (pictured above), which is expected to reopen in October after an extensive renovation. Aside from the need to update properties for aesthetic reasons and to maintain their commercial value, the need to keep up with changing trends and lifestyles also play an important role.

No longer are travellers content with the conventional offerings, combined with the fact that the distinction between work and play is increasingly being blurred. All these factors influence the FF&E direction that designers and fit-out firms take while working on hospitality projects.

Sustainability is a major criterion, as developers also aim to cut energy consumption and aim for a cleaner environment.

In an ideal world, all of this should work like a dream. However, topics such as value engineering, incompatibility between design and fit-out vision, procurement problems, contractual conflicts and lack of well-trained skilled professionals can make it challenging for all those involved in the design and build process of any given project.

While our recent columnist, interior architect, Indu Varanasi, strongly feels about keeping design and build entities independent of each other, many other firms prefer to keep it under one roof to provide one-stop service to clients. It’s a highly debatable and inexhaustible topic.

Patrick Bean, head of design at LACASA iD, LACASA Architects, believes that the integration between the two components is possible, but it’s important for designers to know what a certain contractor is good at. There is no one size fits all approach to achieving good results. Similarly, contractors should be willing to be led by the designers for desired results.

Following construction, the role of interior architects and fit-out firms becomes a significant one as they try to turn these structures into not just their vision, but also that of the developer. But new construction aside, the need for refurbishment and retrofitting is an industry on its own.
Interestingly, the stakeholders are now also realising the importance of keeping the end-user at the centre of these projects.