Evaluating this month’s winning projects, our panel of industry experts discussed how shops can spice up their sustainability strategies, why workspaces should diversify their floor plans and what hotels can do to truly sync with their local vernacular.

For the latest in our series of #FrameLive events, Frame director Robert Thiemann virtually gathered with four members of our Frame Awards November jury – Valerie Roosma, interior designer and associate at HOK; Zaiba Mian, professor at Humber College; Luis F Rueda, founder of LFR Design Studio; and Agata Pilip, store designer at Nike – to explore the key ingredients for successful interiors across the board of spatial typologies. Here we list their key thoughts and takeaways.

Hospitality should be rooted in – and open up to – its local context

‘It’s really encouraging to see a design which relates to the context. We often end up seeing more generic or homogenized types of design environments. I appreciate the use of vernacular materials and details that draws from local culture. This context-specific approach ends up being a very inclusive one. It's a sustainable one. And it elevates the experience for the tourists,’ said Mian, pointing to Potato Head Studios, an OMA-designed resort in Bali that received an honourable mention this month (cover image).

Luis F Rueda likes that a stay at Potato Head Studios isn't made to be a spatially exclusive experience. Photos: Kevin Mak, courtesy of OMA

‘Even though Potato Head Studios is a hotel, it doesn’t shut itself off from its neighbourhood – it isn’t made into an exclusive experience. One of the things that’s key here is that it takes into account local building traditions. There are different levels of terraces and different types of shading that I imagine mitigate what otherwise is a very hot, humid climate,’ said Rueda.

The wish of hospitality clients is often to make it a local experience. Unfortunately I can frequently see this being achieved in quite artificial way

'I feel the connection there with the locality is really genuine and strong,' Nike's Agata Pilip said of Saarlouis, Germany hotel La Maison Guesthouse. Photo: Brigida Gonzalez

'Whether it’s a smaller boutique hotel or a chain, the wish of hospitality clients is often to make it a local experience. Unfortunately I can frequently see this being achieved in quite artificial ways – like picking up a traditional pattern from the given city and replicating it,’ said Pilip. Referring to this month’s second-highest-scoring project, CBAG Studio’s La Maison Guesthouse in Saarlouis, Germany, she continued, saying: 'I feel the connection there with the locality is really genuine and strong. The natural area that the hotel is located in reflects perfectly in the hotel design, the choice of materials and colour palette. The designers say they wanted to oppose this quick hotel design turnover and they designed something that will always feel relevant.'

Rueda praised 'the sense of arrival’ achieved by the majestic reception lobby of Panorama Design Group’s OneJee Hotel in Shenzhen. ‘The quietness and serenity lowers your blood pressure,' he said.

Workspaces should be agile, inviting and omnifarious

‘We are seeing a lot of clients looking to reduce their square footage and opening up to the idea of going agile. So we’ve been doing a lot of presentations about sharing ratios. COVID-19 has had a dramatic influence on the size of the projects that are being initiated, as well as the type of space within. People are getting more comfortable with different types of work points that aren't a desk. Going forward, big headquarters are not going to be the norm anymore,’ said Roosma.

Going forward, big headquarters are not going to be the norm anymore

‘There is a sense that offices will not need as much space anymore, and that those companies that will keep the space that they have will use it to spread the workers. There is a need for office furniture that addresses the pandemic, but is also universal and anticipates the office of the future. I’m working on a piece of furniture to address that something else can come into play to make the workplace safe and provides a tool that hasn't really existed in the old open office layout,’ shared Rueda.

Valerie Roosma on one of Fosbury & Sons's Brussels co-working spaces, Albert: 'There are a lot of areas where you could do work depending on what your needs are in terms of level of focus, or collaboration'. Photo: Frederik Vercruysse

Pointing at Fosbury & Sons’s Albert co-working space in Brussels by Going East, which received an honourable mention, Roosma continued: ‘What’s really great are the types of spaces that it's providing as a co-working facility. There are a lot of areas where you could do work depending on what your needs are in terms of level of focus, or collaboration.’

Mian concurred, adding: ‘There is a clear distinction between the interior and exterior. The dark ceilings really demarcate that difference. In fact the overall design approach for the interior really frames the views. I feel like it's a space that allows you to focus on the work that you're doing because it uses a relatively restrained palette, but yet you have all this natural light, and there's the opportunity to relax and contemplate just by looking outside.’

Retail should deal with sustainability more creatively

'At Nike we put sustainability first when it comes to the store design, so I know how much effort it takes to source materials or figure out where they will come from. Where do we buy them from? How are they shipped? How will they be used after a store refit? I think for most retail stores, their layout adapts with the arrival of new products, new collection and new waves of customer behaviour. Nodding to Camper’s Málaga store, this month’s winning project designed by Oficina Penadés, she continued: 'With this concept, which uses four basic elements – perforated metal profiles, corner plates, nuts and bolts – we can achieve that really easily. We can build and rearrange the store in a very simple manner.'

'Here you can see what happens when designers actually leave the office and find themselves surrounded by materials,' thinks Rueda of the winning project, Oficina Penadés's Málaga store for Camper.

‘When we think about sustainability, a lot of the time it's about how we take our typical process, and then try to create a story in which it is sustainable. Oficina Penadés did the opposite and created in a very non-traditional manner,' said Roosma.

Rueda added: 'Here you can see what happens when designers actually leave the office and find themselves surrounded by materials. It’s really important to do that as often as possible, to see what's already there that can be used, utilizing things that are very readily accessible, as opposed to starting from scratch all the time.’

I hope sustainability will be understood in a wider range soon, not only limited to materials

'We really see a trend in designers having a deeper look into specifying sustainable materiality and making projects sustainable. What I wish to see in the future is for designers to focus on other types of sustainability, like sustainability that's connected with our social tissue. I would like to see more democratic projects. I hope sustainability will be understood in a wider range soon, not only limited to materials’, Pilip concluded.

WATCH THE RECORDED LIVE JUDGING SESSION HERE:

Interested in being part of our January Interiors of the Month jury? Send your application to jury@frameweb.com.