Author Archives: Frances

Shaw Hospitality Group Touched by Stories of Women in India

During a two-week design exploration of India, Shaw Hospitality Group designers sought ancient crafts made as they were centuries ago. The result of the travels was  the award-winning collection, Design Journey: Cloth & Stone.

Along the way they become one with the places they journeyed, immersing themselves in scenes that were ancient and modern, familiar and completely foreign. Shaw Hospitality Group design manager Maria Scott was especially touched by the daily lives of women in a remote village in Nimaj, Rajasthan.

“Seeing the women in their bright clothes and heavy gold jewelry carrying water vessels on their heads seemed an expected, almost stereotypical, image.  Each morning they trek to the center of the village to gather the water they will need for the day, “ Maria said. “However, I never appreciated what physical and challenging lives these women lead until I watched as they helped each other hoist these heavy jugs onto their heads and begin the long walk home.  If their chores demanded more water, then another trip to the village center was required.”

When social entrepreneur Cynthia Koenig learned of the pursuit Indian women face daily to get potable water for their families, she was inspired to create WaterWheel, an invention that allows people to roll water in a 50-liter container across the ground versus carrying it in a 5 gallon jug on their head, as Maria witnessed in India.


After receiving a $100,000 Grand Challenges Canada prize, Koenig founded Wello, which is piloting the WaterWheel in rural India.

According to the Wello website, people living in developing countries worldwide often walk five miles daily to gather water for their families. Carrying these heavy water vessels causes severe pain, spinal compression and complications in child birth. Additionally, the WaterWheel has the ability to remove barriers that prevent children from attending school and empowers women to engage in more productive activities that boost their family income, pursue education and general wellbeing.

For more information on donating to the Wello mission of helping people have easier access to water, visit the site or watch Koenig’s TEDx talk

To see more photos from the design team’s travels to India, visit Shaw Hospitality Group on Pinterest.

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Emerging Hotel Trends Offer Work/Life Balance

In the December 2013 issue of Hospitality Design Magazine, Martin Raymond of UK-based retail and hospitality brand consultancy group, Future Laboratory, explores developing trends in the industry. Among these trends, hotel brands appealing to two different types of global travelers in the 45 and younger demographic: the Bleisure and LATTE crowds.

The 25- to 35-year-old demographic that “blur the lines between business and pleasure.” Who’s specifically designing for this group? Pullman Hotels and Resorts in France. After extensive research, Pullman found that 85 percent of travelers say that technology allowing them to work remotely has merged their personal and professional lives; 79 percent believe this is a positive change.


Pullman Hotels’ London property features the Business Playground, designed by Mathieu Lehanneur. The area reflects the “work hard, play hard” brand mantra by including innovative spinoffs of traditional boardroom finishings. The main conference table features a poker table-esque leather edge for comfort and attendee engagement during long meetings.


Guests can briefly unwind from screen time by relaxing under a canopy break, an oversized digital nature-inspired lampshade. These small details are designed to spark creativity and remove the barrier between work and play.

The 35- to 45-year-old crowd seeking Local, Authentic, Traceable, Trusted and Ethical hospitality brands. The LATTE crowd values a work/life balance and wants this equilibrium in their lives, according to Future Laboratory’s trend research. Research shows LATTEs feel overwhelmed by technology and want to occasionally escape the Internet.


Who’s designing for LATTEs? The Renaissance Pittsburgh where guests can choose the Zen and Art of Detox package. When checking in, travelers leave their computers and cell phones at the front desk. The rooms have no TV or telephone but are stocked full of books and board games, allowing families to reconnect without digital interference.

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Grocery Stores Going Beyond the Question of “Paper or Plastic?”

Two small grocery stores are going way beyond the question of “paper or plastic?”


Austin, Texas-based in.gredients promotes sustainability on whole different level than just encouraging customers to recycle. This micro-grocer, which opened in August 2012, offers pure, GMO-free , locally harvested food in a package-free environment. Simply bring your own container and choose as much – or as little – products that you want. Weigh your food, pay by the ounce and take it home.


Likewise, London’s Unpackaged is bringing this unique style of shopping to the U.K. “We believe that a lot of packaging is unnecessary so we’ve removed it; just bring your own containers and reuse them each time you shop.”

Both retailers believe the choice to purchase unpackaged goods will lead their customers to make more sustainable choices in other parts of their lives. Maybe this is a growing retail movement we can all get behind.

While we may not be getting rid of packaging for our materials, Shaw Industries is reducing the impact it has on the environment. The recently redesigned carpet tile packaging is 30% lighter and far less difficult for customers to dispose and recycle. The reduced packaging weight means reduced cardboard usage, over 550 thousand pounds or 3,550 trees each year. The result is a packaged product that is safer, lighter and less laborious.

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RDI Names Minstral Wines Sao Paulo ‘Best Retail Design Store’

The Retail Design Institute’s 42nd International Store Design Awards honored the Mistral Wine Store in Sao Paulo, Brazil, with the Store of the Year 2012 award. The store, designed by Studio Arthur Casas, looks more like a modern architectural showcase than retail wine establishment.

Because most of the Mistral Wine Store’s sales are completed online, the store wanted to showcase the wine in a recreational, beautiful way that justified the retail location’s physical presence to the client.  Additionally, they wanted a space to attract new customers and wine connoisseurs alike.

The wine is creatively displayed throughout the 1,076-square-foot space so that store guests can easily explore each label. Wine bottles are suspended in the fluid, organic shape of the store, giving the store a unique and elegantly discrete atmosphere. They become works of art, inviting guests to browse the space and take in the retail environment as if it’s a modern art museum.

Images: DDI, Arch Daily 

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Hotel Modez: Arnhem, The Netherlands

When Studio Piet Paris set out to amaze and surprise guests of the Hotel Modez in Arnhem, the Netherlands, they enlisted the design expertise of Dutch art and fashion designers to create 20 custom guest rooms. The result – bespoke spaces sure to allure guests back to this atypical hotel.

Quite possibly the most jaw-dropping space is by Antoine Peters, whose room is designed with graphic black and white QR codes – from the wall paper and curtains to furniture and linens. The vivid design is not the main showcase in this room. But rather a quick scan of the QR codes with guests’ smartphones reveals a menagerie or pornographic and provocative images.

Patchwork room by Antoine Peters

Peters’ idea behind the edgy design is that this is what guests – whether business travelers or leisure vacationers – really want in a hotel space. Only at the Hotel Modez, the pornography stays hidden and doesn’t end up on guests’ checkout tab.

Take a look at some of the other custom guest rooms:

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