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Michael Adams is editor in chief of Hospitality Design, the hottest magazine in the hotel industry. The magazine features the hottest trends in design, architecture and hospitality services. Given our love for Hip Hotels, I was excited to interview Michael and learn about his predictions for the future of the industry.
Before Michael assumed the helm of Hospitality Design, he was the executive editor of Restaurant Business magazine, a senior editor of Successful Meetings magazine, and writer to Conde Nast Traveler, Incentive, and The Hollywood Reporter.
11 Questions With Michael Adams
1. How did you get involved with Hospitality Design Magazine and what motivates you to continue?
I became editor in chief of HD about 8 years ago, after having worked on other magazines in the company: one specialized in hotels, the other in restaurants, so HD seemed like a happy amalgam of the two. (Before that, I was totally immersed in academia.) There was a huge learning curve to come up to speed on the design aspect of the publication, but that was a nice challenge. I’m motivated to continue by the ever-growing surge of creativity in this arena. Designing for hospitality continues to attract some of the most artful and ingenious designers in existence, so it’s a constant high to see them top themselves. And because our brand owns several trade show/conferences, I’m able to interact with a lot of them and they tend to be fun, generous, fascinating people.
2. What are some of the more interesting trends you are seeing in the hospitality world?
In the past few years, we’ve seen a number of hotel trends emerge: luxury is taking off as never before (see hotels in Dubai, for example); authenticity and site specificity (meaning that guests want to feel they’re a part of the environment they’ve traveled to and not in some cookie-cutter space that has no connection to country or local culture); whimsy of design (rooms that are fantasy spaces where the designer has full rein to indulge his/her boldly artistic vision); and voyeurism (just notice how many designers have eliminated the barriers between bath and bed). More than anything, however, the whole idea of environment and sustainability are FINALLY taking hold. What was once given lip service is now becoming a part of almost everyone’s lexicon. Guests are demanding green design and are possibly willing to pay more for it; hotel owners are just following the zeitgeist. (And suddenly Al Gore is looking pretty smart to those who dismissed him six years ago.)
3. What do you think hip hotels will look like in the next decade?
Well, more green for one. But I think you’ll also see a great leap in technology and connectivity. You’re already seeing a great deal of personal services offered that individualize the experience and probably doing so with less staff contact. There will also be a concentration on hygienic environments self-cleaning rooms, linens used only once, etc. because guests are becoming aware of how filthy hotel rooms can be even if they look clean. You might also be able to change the décor of your room during your stay (through some holographic magic) or have a robot butler clean your room on demand. As far as specific future design trends go, I leave that to the experts who do the actual work.
4. If money was no object, how would you design the ultimate hotel?
Despite the future trends (see above), I like the old-fashioned comfy places that are subtly luxurious. My favorite hotel in the world is Chateau Marmont in LA, which is suffused with old-world glamour, while at the same time being refreshingly hip and modern. I’m not sure how they do this, but they succeed better than anywhere I’ve ever stayed. So for me the ultimate hotel would capture that particular alchemy, which seems to be something money can’t buy.
5. What inspires you?
Since I’m a compulsive reader and theatergoer, I tend to be inspired by the written word and live performances. I’m also listen to music constantly, everything from classical to Nina Simone, and find much of my energy can be replenished by musicians I love, especially the unparalleled beauty of the human voice.
6. What are your ambitions for Hospitality Design?
Since we’ve recently launched an Asia/Middle East edition of HD, I’d like to see versions in Europe and South America since there is much untapped design creativity there (I’d also like the excuse to visit there more often!). I also think we could do a great TV version of the magazine. There have been a lot of design shows on the tube, but none that I have seen have captured the particular challenges of creating a hotel, restaurant, spa, etc.
7. How do you define a trend?
In our world, a trend is an idea, a color, a concept that even mid-level projects have begun to adapt.
8. How do you define cool?
Cool for me applies to something that is both original and likely to last. The essence of cool for me is Diane Keaton. I had never seen anything like her when she appeared on the scene, and whatever she had then, she has now, only mellower and richer. Lots of things are called cool because they’re kitschy; most are gone by tomorrow.
About Michael Adams
9. How do you reset yourself to be creative? (e.g. do you have any rituals, do you set aside time for creativity, etc.)
I don’t think of myself as creative, although I like to think I can spot it in others. This job does require a smidgen of creativity, and when that smidgen needs to be refreshed, I exercise or sleep to renew. The best ideas always see to come when I’m doing or thinking of something else.
10. What are your most important hobbies?
As stated, reading (fiction mostly, especially fond of the Victorians), music, and theatergoing. Hand in hand with reading is book collecting, on as large scale as is possible in a limited Manhattan apartment. As so much of my job is visual, I tend to relax with things slightly more cerebral.
11. Professionally, what do you want to be doing or studying in 10 years?
If in 10 years I’ve gone into retirement, I’d like to align myself with some philanthropic organization. So many people within this industry have charitable causes that have proved inspiring, and I think it would be nice to spend the final third of my life engaged in something altruistic.