Designing Outside the Box

At BRR, we strive to design innovative solutions for our clients. These solutions focus on improving the customer experience while developing consistent branding; all of which is based on a critical understanding of project typologies. The ability to produce these solutions stems from our unique design and thought process as well as our dedication to communication and teamwork through all stages of the design process.

Idea Generating

Understanding how to address and solve design problems begins with generating ideas. To continually improve our internal design skills, BRR recently completed an internal design charrette where the challenge was to re-invent the hotel of the future. Leveraging the ideologies of the Think-Wrong movement pioneered by John Bielenberg, our teams took traditional hotel concepts and re-imagined the customer experience. Critical components of traditional hotels such as the arrival sequence, target demographics, locational relationship and guestroom experience were unpacked to image radical concepts outside of realistic boundaries.

Unrealistic ideas and design concepts such as “Grandma’s Cookies” and “Jungle Book” challenged traditional ideas of the hotel lobby and helped our teams to brainstorm innovative and creative solutions to design scenarios. Focused on creating memorable or ‘Instagram-able’ moments, many of the design concepts and ideas generated were centered on how the customer experience can be customized for each hotel guest.

Concept Development

Once the initial concept for each team was selected, the overall customer experience was expanded to the arrival and travel sequence of each guest. Challenged to consider how customers are greeted, check-in and the process to find their room, our teams utilized a mid-critique workshop to evaluate design concepts and receive feedback from market experts and clients. Design solutions included floating individual hotel guestrooms, mobile drone-delivered guestrooms, partially submerged guestrooms and underwater cities.

For all projects at BRR, we focus on how individual customers and users experience and interact within the designed space. Without considering this angle of architecture, the project is not truly designed and maximized for the client needs. Our build of project teams – within our internal charrette and on our projects – pairs young professionals with experienced architects to develop well-rounded sources of knowledge and design insight. This results in projects which have oversight, insight and feedback given from the idea generation stage through construction documents and presentation.

Project Presentation

After the teams finalized their designs, they had the opportunity to present their ideas to a panel. The goal for each team was to convey their designs in a clear and concise manner. Through the idea of storytelling, teams had to showcase their unique ideas and project development by walking the panel through their hotel sequence. To further prepare for the presentation teams took part in a presentation workshop, led by experts in the field, where they developed strategies for storytelling, reviewed body posture and emphasized practice.

It is common at BRR for us to present design ideas to clients at various scales. The ability to understand drawings can be a learned skill so conveying the design intent is a crucial part if the design process. This is accomplished through storytelling. The architectural design extends beyond the walls or even the exterior aesthetics. The materials, light and sound all evoke emotional responses. Properly describing the user’s experience help give clients a clearer understanding and allows them to have input on every aspect of a design.

From idea generating to presentations, innovating thinking is a process. By listening to a client’s goals, we can work with them to generate the initial idea. With a wide range of experienced design professionals, we can begin to refine the design and present the best design solution. Clients appreciate our dedication to developing unique ideas. However, we can elevate the designs by having an open line of communication with clients.

About the authors:

Culin Thompson, Assoc. AIA, APA, LEED Green Assoc., is a Project Designer in our Seattle office. Culin’s experience in hospitality, housing, and retail market analysis and urban planning brings a unique perspective to our hospitality team. Day to day, he designs for a range of hotel brands alongside the development of their entitlement packages. Email him.