Design the New Hospitality for 2021 – A Summit by Elle Decor Italy

| Riccardo Del Bello | Exhibitions & Design Finds

A few days ago, in Italy, it was held a summit about the future of the Hospitality Sector and how it’s going to be affected by the year that just ended and the pandemic. It involved numerous designers who contributed to draw a picture of the industry bringing case studies, inspiration, and invaluable industry insights. The whole conference was quite long, but if you have time, I definitely suggest watching it (link will be below). As for me, I will interpret the points touched by the panellists to see which can relate to international Interior Design trends and how.

The general topic is relevant for my home country, as Italy’s economy relies heavily on tourism and hospitality. Nonetheless, much of the discussion is of great interest for several other countries, such as the UK, France, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Croatia, Greece, and more, which enjoy large volumes of tourists throughout the year.

hotel hallHotel hall by Palomba Serafini Associati, photo by 150UP

Some Context

Only in the first half of the year the United Nations World Tourism Organisation reports a 65% drop in global tourism compared to 2019. Europe, in particular, has suffered a decrease of 72%, second only to North-East Asia (-83%).

Naturally, the situation that had a better outlook in the second half of the year, thanks to the gradual easing of the travel restrictions, got worse rapidly due to the second wave of virus infections. So, at the end of 2020, the overall data is still around -70%.

What were the main topics?

The principles and solutions suggested do not concern short-term hospitality facilities alone. But consist in a true paradigm shift that will have to be applied by anyone, whether they are PBSAs, Co-working, Co-living, or Blended Living schemes.

The key factors to consider in this respect are health and safety, not only physical but mental too, sustainability, to promote a positive and harmonious lifestyle, and technology. But what has to evolve in order to accompany these changes are also the management, planning, and experience. This eventually translates into reputation, which will be increasingly important to inspire trust in the clients’ for their physical and psychological wellbeing. 


*Rehab Hospital Campuses by Matteo Thun, presented as examples of hybrid spaces integrating nature and sustainability

“Up until now, we dealt with economic crises, not just in tourism, acting on the Demand Side. This is not longer possible. We have to develop policies to act on the Supply Side.”

Magda Antonioli – Associate Professor in Social and Political Science at Bocconi University

At this time then, the solution has to be based on investments and productivity. Interior Design can impact all these aspects of Hospitality development in different ways.

What about Interior Design?

Adding to what has been said, 2021 and 2022 will still be transitional years on the path to recovery which should come only in 2023. So, what should designers do in the meantime?

Turns out that many present trends were already developing before the pandemic, but 2020 gave them more relevance.

The first concept that all the panellists mentioned was the need, through architecture, design, management, and services to involve the local culture. As people are forced to spend long hours indoors and isolated, it’s the designers' and developers’ job to enrich the experience connecting them with the surrounding culture.

In time, the purely aesthetic qualities of an Interior Design will become a standard in the industry, something that’s expected by a client or future resident approaching a brand. The Design’s role will increasingly be to guide the people delivering a unique experience, which will ultimately allow some brands to stand out over the competition.

So, Architecture and Design will not only have the function of dividing and organising large spaces to ease social distancing, but they will also need to convey a sense of intimacy and privacy when needed. With reduced social interactions Interior Design needs more than ever before to tell a story that creates indirect social connections and brings the outdoor indoor.

patricia urquiola hotelRoom Mate Giulia by Patricia Urquiola, Milan brought as example of story of a place told through Design

This message and functionality are developed through materials, furniture design, flexibility, and hybrid solutions or multidisciplinary spaces. During the Class Conference by The Class of 2020, back in November, we at A Designer at Heart brought a similar concept on our idea of Shared Living evolution during and after the pandemic.

The founders of the Shanghai-based studio Neri & Hu brought an extremely interesting and relatable case study with the Paimio Sanatorium as an example of Total Design.

“Incorporate ideas of health using material, design as an instrument to think about how we move through the space, how we engage with it. In the case of the pandemic these tools are the ones that will allow to make large spaces into intimate ones and preserve the privacy while still maintaining the distance.”

Lyndon Neri & Rossana Hu


*Paimio Sanatorioum Introduced by Neri & Hu as Example of Total Design

Another interesting point regards Interior Design and the incorporation of technology. Especially in hybrid spaces, built to accommodate different needs, technology and IoT will be more and more relevant. Not only because voice recognition and AI will reduce surface contacts and manual interactions, but also because data will allow the managers to know more about the residents and their preferences and habits. And here comes the so-called, Hidden Technology. To avoid disrupting the experience or being too invasive, Designers will need the skills to incorporate these devices and either disguise or hide them.

To conclude, in the next 2 to 3 years at least, designers, developers, and property managers should put the right emphasis on the perfect mix of all these factors. Developing them through the right design and management to deliver an experience that, even if indirectly, connects the residents with others and with local cultures in a sustainable way, is what will ultimately create brand loyalty and success.

If you are interested in watching the full event check the link below:
Elle Decor Summit

*Cover Image By 150UP

Riccardo Del Bello

Written by: Riccardo Del Bello

Riccardo is the marketing manager and partner of A Designer at Heart. He is in charge of the development and brand definition of the company for its marketing activities.


No thoughts on “Design the New Hospitality for 2021 – A Summit by Elle Decor Italy”

Leave your comment here. Your name will be visible but your email will be hidden.

In reply to Some User



Privacy Policy
Cookie Policy



17 City N Pl c/o Spaces,
N4 3FU, London UK

+44 (0)20 3984 5304
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.