I'm Hip, I'm Cool
From hotels to retail, upscale businesses work hard to avoid a stodgy and stuffy image. Groovy decor helps
Funky fixtures that replace crystal chandeliers. Hotel do-not-disturb signs that say Fuhgettaboutdit! Elevators that play cartoons. Eames chairs and a Zen garden for customers to rest their weary bones. Its a new world for marketers of upscale products and services, one in which Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y want humor and visual treats when they travel and buy.
Jewelry stores, typically more conservative than most stores, may not adopt all the trends cited here. But you should be aware affluent customers are beginning to enjoy this fresh and offbeat point of view.
Boutique hotels started the trend, but now even staid hotel chains are transforming themselves into chic outposts, reports The Wall Street Journal. Marriott International has started redecorating its Renaissance brand hotels with humorous sculptures of winged cows and unique eating areas. The famed Plaza Hotel in New York City gave its staid Edwardian Room restaurant a facelift, covering ornate chandeliers with modern red shades. Le Parker Meridien hotel, a buttoned-down business hotel also in New York City, dresses its doormen in Hawaiian shirts. The Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey, CA, replaced plush carpeting with two-tone hardwood floors.
Cool at Retail
Formerly frumpy Selfridges department store in London has transformed itself into a trendy place to shop, reports WSJ. Interior designers who have decorated chic hotels were brought in to rip out false walls and a plastic ceiling so shoppers could enjoy the venerable stores original beaux-arts cornices and giant columns, contrasted with modern accents. The products now displayed on the stores famed first floor are anything but antique. Oriental rugs have been replaced with mobile phones, hot brands and Far Eastern furnishings.
Innovator jewelers such as Cartier and H. Stern also have moved in a more avant-garde direction in their U.S. retail interiors over the past few years (Professional Jeweler, November 2001, pp. 80-81, and April 1998, pp. 88-89). At Cartiers 100-year-old Fifth Ave. flagship store, for example, interior designers lightened up the rift-cut oak paneling and added a modern cutout ceiling between the first and second floors.
Funky Furniture & Fixtures
Display and Design Ideas magazine recently looked at trends in furniture and fixtures, concluding that for many retailers, modern or offbeat styling is the way to keep customers opening their doors. The key to success: Avoid anything generic or bland.
||A funky chair, chic throws, dried flowers and rough-hewn floors, as arranged in this photo from Town & Country, convey the hip attitude that hotels and upscale retailers aim for. The model wears a Carolina Herrera gown and aquamarine and diamond necklace by Buccelati.