Font Size

- Aa +

Thu 13 Jan 2011 12:00 AM

Font Size

- Aa +

Time for change

This month’s issue of CID contains various calls to action. Fitting, perhaps, that we should start a new decade by inviting the industry to change its ways.

Time for change

This month’s issue of CID contains various calls to action. Fitting,
perhaps, that we should start a new decade by inviting the industry to change its
ways.

Rogier van der Heide, chief design officer of Philips Lighting,
leads the charge by challenging the hospitality industry to up its game in the sustainability
stakes. According to van der Heide, who was the former global leader of Arup Lighting
and is a reputable lighting designer in his own right, the
hospitality and retail industries remain “the most conventional” when it comes
to the uptake of new, sustainable technologies.

A little card in the bathroom asking guests to put their towels
on the floor if they want them washed will no longer cut it, said van der Heide.
Hotels need to invest in innovative new technologies, particularly in the field
of lighting, in order to radically reduce their energy expenditure.

James Law takes it a few steps further. Best known in this part
of the world as the designer of the Dubai Technosphere, an eco-project that would
contain its own river, waterfall and rainforest, Law believes that our buildings,
our cities and indeed our way of life need to fundamentally change in the 21st century.
He is also adamant that architects and designers are responsible for driving that
change.

In Law’s eyes, cities should no longer be thought of as satellites
sub-divided by districts and buildings but, rather, as part of an intelligent network.
“A city should not be built as it was before. It should be conceived much more like
a piece of technology, like a circuit board. Every piece of circuit is symbiotically
linked to everything else, and everything has to work together like a piece of nature.
This is the ubiquitous city,” is Law’s theory.

Daniel During, managing director of Thomas Klein International,
is also championing change – but on a more manageable scale. During has mapped the
evolution of restaurant design, from the 1990s to date, and questions why designers
in this region seem to have stopped taking risks.

The region’s restaurant scene is a mire of quasi-sameness, he
argues. Whether this stems from complacency, or a fear of taking chances in the
current economic climate, is irrelevant. The result is a sea of nondescript, cookie-cutter
interiors.

It is the responsibility of the designer, as an artist, to push
boundaries and challenge the status quo. Whether this means making our hotels more
sustainable, our restaurants more unique or our cities more intelligent, it is a
responsibility that designers can no longer shirk.

Selina Denman is the editor of Commercial Interior Design.

For all the latest construction news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.