Space International Hotel Design

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5 Minutes with Una Barac

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Tell me about your role at Artelior?

I’m the Founder and Executive Director of Artelior. I’m lucky as my role is very creative, which I love. I’m very hands-on with all our projects. I work closely with the clients to define the project brief and ensure their requirements are met. I work very closely with my team to make sure that the initial vision and concept is translated into the overall design, right through to the finest of details.


What projects are you currently working on?

Four Seasons resort in Hvar, Croatia. Sales & Marketing Suite at historic Trent Park. Refurbishment of Park Plaza County Hall in London. New restaurant at Art’otel Cologne. Refurbishment of Park Plaza Hotels in Utrecht and Eindhoven, Netherlands. Courtyard by Marriott hotels in Split, Croatia and Vilnius, Lithuania. Swissotel and Sofitel M Gallery in Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina. New Park Plaza Hotel in Pula, Croatia.


How important is the journey when it comes to designing a new hotel?

Very important. Every project is a journey that begins with understanding the client and the end user. Our success is measured by the satisfaction of the people who use the spaces that we create. Our next step is to gain understanding of the site context and root the project in its locality. We do this by looking at the historical, cultural and present day context of the building and area and weave those influences through the narrative of our design. The journey from concept design through to delivery is a really enjoyable process and unique every time; every site is different and every project comes with its own challenges.


What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Setting up Artelior, my own business, after more than two decades of working for large commercial practices. My past experience has been invaluable, but I felt the time was right to apply a more bespoke approach to design. Creating my own brand and being able to offer a more personal service to my clients is incredibly rewarding.


Have you noticed any particular trends in hotel design?

Hotels are much more lifestyle focused now, more holistic with entertainment and a distinctive R’n’R environment. The design should attract regular and one-off clients who see the space as a sanctuary where they can escape from life’s stresses; a soothing bolthole. That’s really important. Hoteliers are making a conscious effort to keep their guest in the hotel in this way and attract passing trade. This is the case for both branded and unbranded properties.


How important are public spaces in hotels?

Incredibly important as they’re effectively becoming hubs for people to meet, work, do business, catch up, relax and enjoy good food and drink. As the result of this, bars and restaurants are becoming an integral part of the reception lobby. There are less and less physical partitions between those spaces, as we see them blend seamlessly between each other.


Number of meetings attended each week?

Between 10-12. I used to have more meetings when I worked in large corporate practices, but now my focus is a lot more on design and the creative process itself. I meet with clients to present the designs we produce. And I hold a lot of design meetings with the team to ensure successful design development. I have a great network of support within our studio, so I can focus more on the design and cut down the management meetings to one a week.


What is your favourite city?

London, without a shadow of a doubt. The more I travel, the wider my horizons become. But the fonder I become of London, it makes me realise how diverse and dynamic a city I live in. I love travelling though and am on a plane at least couple of times a fortnight, if not every week.


What is your favourite hotel?

That’s a tough one! I’d have to say: Conservatorium Amsterdam for a city hotel. It really strikes the balance between cool, relaxed, class and sophistication. The Chedi Andermatt for its understated luxury and cosiness that a ski resort requires. Ushuaia Ibiza for the ultimate Mediterranean party resort and phenomenal use of F&B and entertainment.