Friday, June 21, 2013

Marriott Hotels - the amazing 10,000 square foot Innovation Lab!

Recently I had the very cool experience of visiting Marriott Hotels headquarters right in Bethesda, MD to visit and “play” in their absolutely amazing “Innovation Lab.”

 “What is an innovation lab?” you might ask. A 10,000 sq. ft. space right in headquarters that allows designers, architects, employees, and customers to rapidly prototype and manipulate “white box” guest rooms, lobbies, and meeting spaces by moving around rolling furnishings as large as a bed to accessories as small as a soap dish.

I was lucky enough to get to create my own ideal guest room along with other bloggers, designers, and writers and chat with SVP architecture and construction of Marriott, Karim Khalifa. His enthusiasm for the Innovation Lab was contagious. “This isn’t a space where sport coats are required or guests stand to the side while we speak. It is interactive and participatory… Marriott is dedicated to transforming the brand to make it relevant for a next generation of travelers – and we want these travelers to be a part of our transformative journey”

Drew Shepherd, Senior Director, Portfolio Strategy & Research started us off with an interesting presentation about gathering guest insights, and speaking to travelers' and consumers' heightened expectations for good design in everything from the razors they use to the hotels they stay in.

The then and now of industrial design.

We then visited a few "mock" guest rooms near the Innovation Lab to discuss what it is we like about hotel guest rooms and dislike.  I was very surprised at how varying everyone's guest habits were.  Some of us unpack immediately, some of us leave our things in suitcases, some always order room service, some have never.

With the current rooms fresh in our minds, we were given a tour of the Innovation Lab and introduced to the prototyping process.

The amazing space:

Next, we got to the fun part and mocked up some new guest rooms with pen and paper

And finally, we moved on to actually prototyping rooms- moving around furniture, lamps, appliances, etc...

Pretty awesome right?  As a designer, being able to "create" so quickly and instant feedback is so valuable.  This hands on method was a great way to test concepts out in a much more tangible and accurate way then sketching.

Last, but ABSOLUTELY NOT least....lunch.  One word: yum.
Vice President, Culinary and Global Corporate Chef Brad Nelson gave us a tour of his kitchens and garden before joining us for a truly delicious lunch.

Love this floating radishes centerpiece

Now I'm hungry!

What do you think about Marriott's Innovation Lab?


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