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Title: Hotels, Designing to a hoteliers brief

Pages: 41 - 45

               

Author: Gillian Naylor

Text: Hotels
Designing to a hotelier's brief
by Gillian Naylor
The furniture, cutlery and holloware described in the following pages was specially designed for a new luxury hotel in Sheffield, and is the result of a detailed analysis of requirements. This points to a lack of modern designs from standard ranges that satisfy the stringent conditions of hotel use.
1 practical considerations have governed the design of all the new hotel equipment. The holloware is a good example. Most individual items perform more than one function: two vegetable dishes of the same size, using a locating rim principle, form a covered dish, thus eliminating the need for separate lids. The small bowl is used for grape fruit and as a finger bowl. The vegetable dishes are circular for simplicity of manufacture.
Next month the new Grosvenor House Hotel will be opened in Sheffield. interiors, including the public rooms and 102 bedrooms, have been designed by Russell, Hodgson & Leigh, a team which has worked with Grosvenor House since the inception of its modernisation programme some 12 years ago. During this time, the management and design team, have evolved a thorough and exacting approach to the problems of hotel design. The development of a range of stacking china for the group (at present selling successfully at home and overseas) was described in DESIGN 180/38-39, and the same care and common sense has now been applied to the design and selection of furniture and fittings for this new hotel.
The situation was ideal for the degree of design co-ordination the group aims at. The management, designers and architects were able to start from scratch and the hotel was virtually planned from the inside out. For example, four years' research and planning, backed by the experience gained from the Grosvenor House Park Lane Hotel, went into the selection of furniture. A design committee, consisting of representatives from Grosvenor House and the design team, was set up to establish requirements. What was needed was a related range of furniture that would stand up to the considerable rigours of hotel life; it had to be comfortable for clients of all shapes and sizes; it had to be practical and easily replaceable; it had to be bought within a budget; and its design had to be consistent with that of a modern luxury hotel. Although the committee hoped to be able to select furniture from existing British ranges which would meet the requirements, it was unable to find suitable chairs or occasional tables for the public rooms and bedrooms, although about 20 ranges had been considered. For these items the committee laid down new briefs, and designs were prepared by Russell, Hodgson & Leigh, with Alan Tilbury as the assistant in charge.
Satisfying the requirements The new furniture is mainly in beech, and is related, dimensionally and in appearance, to the built in furniture in the bedrooms. Made by Design Furnishing Contracts Ltd. it consists of three chairs, a sofa, a dressing stool, a tv trolley and a drinks cabinet, as well as various tables. (Restaurant and banqueting tables have been chosen from existing ranges, and new banqueting and restaurant chairs have been designed by Professor R. D. Russell).
The key piece in the new range is the easy chair, which was the first item designed. After the original drawings were made, the dimensions were tested on the Royal College of Art's adjustable rig, and the mock-up was further tested by people of different builds. The chair is completely Remountable: the frame is in solid white beech, and the various members are secured by bolts which hold the chair together firmly, although they are simple to manipulate by unskilled labour. The upholstery is plastics foam, supported on calico or rubber webbing, and vulnerable parts such as the back, seat and arms are protected by pvc sheeting. The close fitting covers are all removable, and are fastened by lacing. This form of fastening was thought by the management to be more practical than zips or hooks and eyes, as it is easily used and maintained by unskilled labour, and always ensures a tight fit. The rails are placed high enough to allow the carpet to be cleaned easily. The design of the rest of the seating is all related to this basic chair. Most of the components are interchangeable to facilitate production, and to cut down the need for complete replacement if, for example, an arm or a leg is badly damaged.
Similar practical considerations governed the design of the rest
2-6 The exploded drawing, 2, illustrates the way in which the construction of the easy chair, 3, allows for easy dismantling. The sofa, 4, the semi easy chair, 5, and the upright chair, 6, as well as the chair without arms and the dressing stool which are not illustrated here, are all designed on a similar principle, and many of the components are interchangeable. The dimensions of the easy chair are: seat depth 1ft 6 inches; seat width 1ft 9 inches; seat height (front) 1ft 4 inches,
angled 5' from horizontal; overall width 2ft 3 inches; overall height 2ft 9 inches; angle of seat and back 95; height of arm from floor 1ft 9 inches. The semi easy chair and the sofa have basically the same dimensions (except for the overall width of the sofa, which is 4ft 6 inches). The other two chairs have slightly different dimensions: the seat depth, for instance, is one inch less, and the overall height is greater. The chairs are related dimensionally to the stools in the range and the chair seats are interchangeable with the seats of the dressing stools. The chairs and sofa are covered in a wool furnishing fabric specially woven by a Scottish firm, Robert Laidlaw Ltd. The covers on the easy chair are grey, and this colour is picked up in the check of the sofa: these pieces are used together in the public rooms and sitting rooms. The colours of the covers of the other chairs vary according to their position in the hotel.
Hotels Designing to a hotelier's brief
The rectangular end frames of the luggage stool give extra strength and act as runners on thick carpets. It was designed to be stored beneath the dressing table fitment and is 1ft 2 inches high and 2ft 6 inches wide. The remainder of the range, not illustrated here, comprises a dressing stool, a nest of tables, an occasional table, a to trolley, a drinks cabinet and a bar stool.
Of the furniture. For example, the occasional tables for use in the bedrooms are in solid beech with a plastics laminate surface, and they are 1ft 6 inches high so that they can be used conveniently with the chairs. The luggage stool is also in solid beech and has a surface of grooved sheet rubber.
This is probably the first range of its kind that has been produced specifically for hotel use, and it meets a crying need. The lack of really practical hotel furniture has been emphasised again and again by hoteliers - so much so that the ColD invited a committee of them-~- to lay down basic requirements, and their recommendations were put forward in reports published by the ColD in 1963 and 1964. A. H. Jones, who was chairman of the ColD Advisory Committee on Hotels and Restaurants from 1958-60, was managing director of Grosvenor House for the past 26 years (he retired last summer), and it was on his initiative that these new designs were produced. It is surely a sad reflection on the furniture industry that a hotelier found it necessary to commission a special range to meet requirements which, though exacting, are certainly not unique.
Rationalised cutlery and holloware The development of the new cutlery and holloware for Grosvenor House followed a similar pattern. Having decided that stainless steel was to be used, the design committee then compiled a report on all the items in use in the hotel. By rationalising requirements, the committee was able to reduce Grosvenor House's existing ranges by about 35 per cent.
Obviously the cutlery had to be suitable for use with the new tableware, and this to a certain extent influenced its shape and 'weight', but the design was largely determined by the fact that the functions of various items are duplicated. For example, the large spoon will be used for soup, and as a server, and the large fork will be used for meat and fish as well as for service. To enable the pieces to be used comfortably for this dual purpose the handles have been slightly arched, giving them a kick at the end so that the fork will nest in the spoon when they are used for serving. The large and small knives are flat, as there was no functional reason for bringing them into line. All the knives are in one piece and the handles are solid;
--the blade of the meat knife is finely serrated for two inches to eliminate the need for frequent sharpening.
Prototypes were tested by a catering expert, as well as by Grosvenor House staff, and after initial suspicion (the cutlery is so completely different from the existing ranges), they all reported it easier to handle and manipulate than the traditional patterns.
The holloware range includes one new item, a small footed bowl, and new designs for the timbale units and vegetable dishes. The bowl doubles as a grapefruit dish and as a finger bowl: when combined with a consomme cup from the range of stacking china, it is also used for ice cream. The timbales are insulated serving bowls, the spaceformed between the outer and inner units containing chipped ice. Three related units have been produced, the middle unit forming the outer layer when used with the smallest size, and forming the inner layer when used with the largest. The vegetable dishes are round for ease of service and simplicity of manufacture. Three sizes of vegetable dish were considered sufficient. Two dishes of the same size, using a locating rim principle, form a covered dish, thus eliminating the need for separate lids. The holloware has been made by Taw Manufacturing Co Ltd and will probably be available soon on the contract market.
Because the functions of various items are duplicated, it has been possible to reduce the cutlery from 18 pieces to nine. The shape of the handles is dictated by the purpose for which the individual pieces will be used. The cutlery, which will be available on the contract market, is made by British Silverware Ltd and has a hard wearing finish specially developed for the catering trade.
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