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What will hospitality and design look like after the pandemic? Florian Sander has answers

Florian Sander, managing director of iThink Consulting Group shares his thoughts.

Design will have to become more practical and inspiring. Simple things like automated bathroom doors and fixtures will become the norm rather than the exception. Also, the use of copper and its alloys such as brass and bronze – natural antimicrobial materials – could see a resurgence and the overall state of design should become more nuanced and less convoluted. Design does not need elaboration to impress, it needs a purpose.

The rationale behind design is that the most important aspect or focus should be the customer experience. I often ask myself: ‘How can design positively impact a customer’s mood? How can furniture ensure people are comfortable for extended periods?

What are the little things that you want customers to remember – like pulling a chair and giving the material a second touch or giving a certain artwork a second look?’ These are the fundamental questions that need to be addressed to ensure that everyone who invests in this notoriously fickle industry is given the best chances for success.

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I think this Covid-19 crisis revealed what I’ve always believed in: the importance of strong, well-positioned concepts with a close customer connection. Establishments, whose design followed these principles, made it through the circuit breaker intact and came out even stronger afterwards. Two examples are our projects Pasta Bar and CouCou. Both have seen windfall business because of their unique market positioning, and the strengths of their operators.

In today’s world, a great hospitality product means creating a product that addresses its respective market segment in terms of value and value perception. If you charge luxury prices, the product should be luxury in all aspects, including design, food and customer service. Hopefully, we will be seeing more innovative, well put together concepts entering the Singapore market in the future.

Another factor that will be of utmost importance is manpower. The art of hospitality is often underestimated. Staff need to be knowledgeable of the culinary arts and skilled – not just in cooking or service-related manners, but also with people. Half of the experience in a restaurant is often based on the efficiency and vibrancy of your server or host. We should never forget that hospitality is fundamentally about people.

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