For hotel design enthusiasts, a high point of the year is the annual arrival of BDNY, aka Boutique Design New York, and HX: The Hotel Experience, two big trade shows that camp out for a long, late-autumn weekend at Javits Center.
It’s the ultimate preview of coming attractions for hospitality geeks, a sneak peek at what you can expect to see in hotels before too, too long, from the latest trends in floor coverings, bedding and china to the latest lighting, mini-fridges and bathroom soap dispensers.
After two show-less years (both events were cancelled in 2020, and we missed 2021), we were thrilled to be back, roaming the caverns of Javits with notebook and camera. Here’s what caught our eye.
American-made hygge Nothing cozies up a hotel room or lobby like a colorful throw that’s decorative and comfy. Consider Happy Habitat‘s upbeat warm-ups made from soft, eco-friendly recycled cotton. “They’re the pop, the color-saturated antidote to hotel beige,” says designer Karrie Dean, who scored her first hotel commission in 2018 from Crossroads, a stylish Kansas City, MO hotel that showcases work by local artists. Dean started her business 11 years ago after abandoning corporate advertising for her first love, design. The result? Boldly patterned, American-made throws in more than 80 designs that exude confidence and style. Because they’re machine washable, they’re ideal for high-traffic entities like hotels. Or homes (they’re available online and at select stores).
Fitness sculpture The Ciclotte may be the one instance where “good-looking exercise bicycle” isn’t an oxymoron. Designed in Italy as an energy-friendly urban unicycle, the prototype landed in Milan’s Museum of Italian Design in 2007 and evolved into a high-concept exercise bike, the kind people wouldn’t mind seeing in their living room, on a yacht or in a hotel suite — all places where Ciclottes can be found. Recently introduced in the U.S., the big wheel is constructed from high-tech carbon fiber, glass and steel, comes is eye-catching colors and is designed to replicate cycling on the open road (resistance comes from an electromagnetic system controlled by Bluetooth).
Multitasking coatrack It comes as no surprise that this clever space saver was designed for a boutique hotel, one that was big on style but short on space. Created by Spanish design company Nomon Home (tagline: jewelry for home), this eye-catching, silent valet serves up a full-length mirror, a small tray, a rod that holds five coat hangers and lots of good looks. Available in black metal or brass.
Cool cats Some products we saw are so new that they’re not in production yet. Consider the sleek, hardworking ceramic cats that caught our eye at the Mood 06 booth in the Italian Design section. Inspired by the Ancient Egyptian cat beloved by the Pharaohs, the ceramic felines take their dimensions from the principles of the golden ratio and are built to perform one of two tasks, besides looking regal (and flawless). The illuminated cat is lit from within to double as an art object and a lamp, emitting light through a feast of “spots” covering the entire body. The spot-free music cat is a powerful loudspeaker. It’s easy to imagine one of the these ceramic creatures perched on a lobby table or lounging atop the check-in desk, entertaining the guests.
Big brolly One of the unexpected entertainments at this year’s show was watching Umbrosa’s enormous Versa UX cantilever umbrella open and close. Suspended from a slanted fiberglass pole with a 10-foot projection, the flat, rectangular sun screen can protect a crowded dinner table or several chaises with a sturdy Sunbrella fabric shade. The fun part comes when a hotel staffer decides to close the umbrella. You grab a lever and the gigantic umbrella gracefully contracts and somersaults into a tidy wedge, ready to withstand oncoming rains, winds and storms.
Light it up More than 20 years ago, Finland’s Secto Design landed on the map with their first line of eye-catching bentwood pendant lamps fashioned from thin-cut strips of birch, Finland’s ubiquitous native tree. In 2017 they began selling their lamps in the U.S. And a week before the BDNY/HX show, their Teelo bentwood table lamp was certified for use in the U.S. It’s a beauty, with a simple, sculptural line, shaped to an elegant T, and definitely hotel ready.