Designing for High-Traffic Areas

People are constantly in motion in hotels, whether it’s guests checking in at the front desk, friends meeting up in the lobby, or a housekeeper busily cleaning rooms. With so many people moving through a single space, it becomes essential that a hotel’s décor be both durable and on trend.

Stacy Garcia, founder of her namesake design company, creates products specifically for high-traffic areas and public spaces, such as hotel lobbies, guestrooms, and restaurants. Unlike designing products for home interiors, Garcia must work with a more limited set of materials, and combine practicality and durability with aesthetics.

“Clients are looking for products with high performance results,” Garcia explains. “They want to know how the product is going to wear over its lifespan.” One of the trickiest parts of the design process is having a product maintain what Garcia calls “appearance retention”—how the product is going to look over its lifetime, and how resistant to wear and tear it will be.

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From a performance perspective, high-traffic areas such as lobbies, hallways, and restaurants can be customized and stylized through a product like a boldly patterned carpet that catches the eye and leads the guest through the space, while also being resistant to wear due to the ounce weight of the carpet’s materials.

Though being able to customize a product for the space is key, the weight of a textile can oftentimes be dialed up or down to provide a certain level of resistance, depending on the amount of traffic expected to pass through that space. Creating a flexible product allows Garcia to experiment with different textures and finishes to create a wide variety of options.

Garcia launched a collection with Durkan about a month ago that is designed specifically for public space and high-traffic areas. “It’s very heavily graphic, but you never do a solid motif for a high-traffic area, so we use a lot of texture and then we place the colors in a way so that if somebody spills something or it gets dirty, you’re not going to be able to look at that,” she says. “All the elements are to help camouflage a space until it can be cleaned properly.”

Lobbies and restaurants are not the only spaces that need highly durable products. Garcia says guestrooms present their own set of challenges when it comes to design. “When we are designing guestroom furniture, we have to take into account not only the guests and how they’re going to behave in the space and what they are going to utilize, but also the fact that housekeeping is in there every single day smashing vacuum cleaners into the bases of the furniture.”

Garcia takes into account the need to have durable furniture that can handle heavy use while also creating a visually pleasing space. In order to create products that combine form and function, Garcia’s design process relies heavily on research and forecasting trends.

“From the time I conceptualize something and the finished product is installed, it could be two and half years. Then, it has to look good for the next five to seven years, and sometimes longer,” Garcia says. “It’s about being highly trend-forward without being trendy, and much of that comes from our forecasting process. “

Garcia strives to make impactful spaces that surprise guests when they walk into the room. Considering the larger role social media plays in the lives of today’s consumers, Garcia strive to create designs that lead to “Instagrammable” moments. She hopes that the dynamic use of design inspires not only hotel guests, but also hotel brands.