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Overview Paul Nulty, founder of architectural lighting design practice Nulty+,


highlights the essential role lighting design plays in the hard-pressed hospitality sector


Above Open Society Foundations in Clerkenwell, with lighting by Nulty+: the lighting scheme is attuned to the people using each individual space. Elsewhere in the scheme cloud-like acoustic pendants provide gentle illumination, while wall-mounted lights in sleep pods emit a soft glow for reading or rest


TOO OFTEN we see the lighting requirements of our hospitality spaces reduced to pretty light fi ttings. It can often become a style-over-substance decision, with almost no importance placed on the quality of the light that these fi xtures emit. And, ultimately, it is this quality of light and how it interacts with the surfaces that interior designers painstakingly obsess over, that makes or breaks the ambience of a hotel or restaurant and allows us to have an emotional connection with that space.


Only through the interplay of illuminated surfaces and the careful balancing of light levels can we start to engage a guest and elicit an emotional response that contributes to their overall experience. If we get this right, it translates into a better outcome, a happier guest and greater spend. T e hospitality industry is facing real change in this so-called ‘new normal’ environment, and lighting schemes will need to adapt in order to create the type of ambiences that will not only attract guests back but make them feel comfortable. One of the key drivers of this change will be personalisation. With technology and connectivity becoming increasingly present in our lives, the options for a personalised guest experience are expanding. Bespoke guest experiences in the hospitality sector are becoming


more common, with technology allowing hotel guests to check in and access their rooms via a mobile device. It’s now also possible, with the right technology, to preset the lighting for a guest before they even enter their hotel room. As we ease out of the restrictions of Covid-19, tangible experiences will perhaps be less desired, at least initially, making a shift to technology even more important. Personalised preferences are going to become the norm. It’s no longer just about the chairs you’re sitting on or the tables you’re eating at – it’s about the whole package and what a brand can off er you to feel comfortable. With increased adoption of technology comes a shift in face-to-face service. We might fi nd that interpersonal relationships will be reserved for high-end hospitality brands as 24-hour automated concierge services become more popular. T ose going down the techy route will have a greater pressure to retain brand visibility if there is a reduction in staff who would formerly have embodied it. Instead, guests will want a building or space to greet and serve them in the same way that a member of staff would have done previously. A dialogue between guest and space will be crucial so the visual aesthetics and branding will become more important.


HUFTON+CROW


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