Practicality over Design

I recently stayed at a hotel in Mexico City that claims to be a “design” hotel. And for the most part, it is. The manner in which they’ve designed the hotel is thinking out of the box and does not follow many of the rules that you would think a regular hotel would follow. I like the concept, what I don’t like is when design is done in order to be “cool” and what’s practical plays a secondary role.

For instance, the rooms have wooden floors. And in the bathroom the joints don’t even meet, which must make it very hard to clean and that a lot of dust and dirt is gathering up below the floorboards. While sitting on the toilet, to get to the toilet paper one needs to have studied yoga for years as it is directly behind you. There is no way to turn on the show head without getting hit with an initial blast of cold water. The show head is located in the center of the tub in a high ceiling. The toilet is in the way so you have to reach over the toilet to turn on the showerhead, getting wet while doing so. And the shower head is so far up that you can’t reach it to point it in a different direction. And then once you’re in the shower, the wonderful shampoo and body scrub are in neat little bottles but with text so small anyone over 50 can’t read them. Its all nicely done, its “cool”, just not practical. And I guess their target market is those “under” 50; that’s why I’m having such problems with their “design”.

There’s another design hotel that did the second floor of a mezzanine, overtop of the lobby, in glass. When you step out of the elevator, its a little bit of a shock, but its cool. However, when going down the stairs, you can’t see the steps! And when the floor gets wet (its open over a courtyard), it gets slippery and dirty very easily. Cool, but not very practical.

There were many aspects of real estate design that was going in this direction until this recent downturn. In order to stand out against other real estate products, they went for coolness, which too often meant design without the practical aspects. With less competition and with a desire to now keep prices down, I’m sure we are going to return to a more practical world. I personally look forward to that!

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