Contrasting colors, natural hues to define 2019 design
Contrasting colors, natural hues to define 2019 design
25 JUNE 2018 8:16 AM

Bold colors and other colors that liven up hotels will be trending in the hotel design space in 2019, but designers said all colors are on the table for next year.

REPORT FROM THE U.S.—In 2019, hotel design will be moving away from the popular neutral color trend of the last several years and going toward bold and unique color pairings with inspiration from nature to make hotels feel more like home.

PPG recently released its color of the year for 2019, called “Night Watch,” which is a deep green color.

Lela Richardson, senior project designer at Wilson Associates, said using deep, dramatic colors in hotel design has already been seen in the industry, and next year, this trend is expected to continue while pulling in dark greens, like “Night Watch.”

“I actually really like dark green,” she said. “… There are a few ways I see it coming out: One is you have this really moody, dramatic opportunity to see it as an accent or throughout the whole space. As an accent, you see it gives a very powerful statement, but then throughout the space, especially in smaller spaces like restaurants or speakeasies, I can see it used holistically throughout the space—in the walls, in accents (and) in (furniture, fixtures and equipment.”

The second way deeper colors like “Night Watch” can be used is as a backdrop in hotels, Richardson said.

“You have this beautiful, dark color that really does help color in not just gray, and throwing a vibrant color on top of that in contrast,” she said. “That could be your surprise. As you walk into a space, that’s what draws you in.”

Christine Shanahan, director of design at HVS Design, said hotels are moving away from the knee-jerk reaction of neutralizing everything and are going toward color washing, which is where designers wash a room holistically in a color.

“What I think we’re enjoying is a renaissance of color again,” she said. “People not being afraid to be bold and be colorful, and we’re seeing the color washing is where we see very, very interesting pairings of off colors, unexpected colors or unusual color pairing, and they create such energy in the room.”

Shanahan said she sees the color-washing trend starting in the guestroom and being paired with softer or contrasting colors to enhance deeper colors. Eventually, it will move to public spaces where there is a feature or a focus, allowing color to come into furnishings and single walls, she said.

A guestroom at The Embassy Row Hotel in Washington, D.C., designed by HVS Design. (Photo: HVS Design)

Inspiration from nature
PPG’s choice of “Night Watch” as color of the year was inspired by the growing popularity of house plants, and designers said hotels can incorporate plants into public spaces like lobbies to liven them up a bit.

Shanahan said designers and hotels are reinventing in new ways, and this applies to colors and plants.

“I spent many years taking out planters; planters from the 1980s when there were big, big lobbies with massive planters,” she said.

When the massive planters were taken out, the lobbies felt less inviting, she said.

“If you’re anybody, you’re attempting to have a fiddley fig growing in your house or in your commercial space,” Shanahan said. “So I think people wanted greenery back, people want the warmth of something natural, something alive, but we didn’t want it in that mass quantity that we had it years and years ago. So we’re using the plants to kind of punctuate and accent (hotels).”

Richardson added that she doesn’t see the houseplant trend coming into hotels, but she does see more natural elements coming in, such as living walls and hanging plants. These elements help create an inviting living space, she said.

Gail McCleese, practice area leader of hospitality at design firm Gensler, said living plant walls allow hotels to bring in nature without having an outside element exposed, as some hotels do with atrium features.

She added that wellness is not going away, which is why there’s been a push toward natural colors in hotels. McCleese said PPG’s “Night Watch” could be used as a balancer throughout spaces in a hotel.

Gensler designed the Bloom & Bee restaurant at The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston. The chairs in the photo have splashes of dark green on abstract floral upholstery. (Photo: Fertitta Entertainment)

Other colors on trend
Dark greens might be seen on walls, in furnishings and in other parts of the hotel, but designers said other colors will be popular, but it depends on the location of the hotel. And while neutrals aren’t as predominant as they have been in recent years, they’ll still pop up in hotels.

“In (the U.S.,) you might see gorgeous neutrals, really pretty warm or cool neutrals,” Richardson said. “Not always gray, not always brown, but really (soothing) colors in certain areas.”

Neutrals will make their appearance, but Richardson said hotels might also take a cue from the recent Milan Fashion Week, where “multicolored everything” was seen in clothing.

“(Multicolored is) done in a tailored way,” she said. “I think that’s where it’s going. It’s specific to the location of the hotel and it’s really opening up for designers to really use their imagination with color.”

Richardson added that there’s really not one specific color her firm would name as a predominant color for next year.

“It’s about balance, but I don’t think there’s one specific color that we can name for the next year just because I see everything coming into play,” she said.


  • Chet Price June 25, 2018 12:45 PM Reply

    No - please no. Take that 'Between 2 Ferns' 70's palette and burn it - please don't say that's on the table for 2019. I'd turn down a free hotel with those colors.

  • Peter McAlpine June 25, 2018 9:35 PM Reply

    The circle continues to be repeated! Colour & Design, Bathroom Amenities, Room Amenities, the Spa, Sports & Fitness, Efficiency in the SOPs, Technology, the Bed, the Welcome Procedure, Smells, etc. The hotel groups continue their search for ways to improve the hospitality experience by reviewing the same (material and physical) areas in circular fashion again and again. The irony continues to be that the Big Thing, which will revolutionise hospitality, lies in the opposite direction, namely inside. It is closer than the CEO's laptop screen, yet he cannot see it. And the CEOs will not be able to "see" it until they allow "energy" and "love" to become corporate terms, and until they break away from the Newtonian worldview and embrace the Quantum worldview. This is why I believe that the revolution in hospitality is still a full generation away., and until then we will see repetition of the cycle and a proliferation of new brands.

    The day must surely be close when the brands are all so similar, just like the cookie-cutter mother hotel groups, that creating new brands becomes pointless. But who would dare to say that? The differentiator will be when the hotel industry discovers energy (thought energy, heart energy, electromagnetic energy, pyramid energy, etc.) and return hospitality to its spiritual essence in love and compassion. Hospitality will then reach levels of such wonder, which are not considered possible now, and hotels will become places of transformation.

    As I've said above, this is a full generation of hoteliers away because the blind are leading the blind in the hotel industry.

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