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Interview: The Creative Designer Behind the Brand Re-Inventing Hostels

@SamShankman

Mar 05, 2014 2:00 pm

Skift Take

Beautiful purposeful design is becoming a necessary checkpoint for travelers of all budgets and Generator is showing how to make it possible for smaller brands looking to differentiate themselves.

— Samantha Shankman

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Locally sourced antiques are found in the common areas of Generator Venice. The build was previously used as an old grain warehouse.

Mekhayech scoured the local country side for knickknacks that add distinctive character to every room.

Generator Barcelona is housed inside a 1960s office building and as a flagship property serves as both a hostel and a hotel. The main lobby features more than 300 lanterns inspired by Barcelona’s annual Festa Major de Gràcia.

All of Generator’s hostels are housed inside unique properties from old grain warehouses to 1960’s style office buildings.

Public spaces in the Generator Berlin Mitte include a bar, chill-out library, café, historic central courtyard and a basement event space used to showcase the work of local artists and musicians.

Bright colors and communal table are common at Generator hostels, seen here in Berlin.

Boutique hotels like Ace and chains like Kimpton aren’t the only brands tapping local culture and artist communities to bring guests closers to their destinations.

Anwar Mekhayech, chief designer of the design-inspired hostel group Generator, calls upon cities’ local architects, designers, and artists to imbue properties with an authentic energy and homegrown environment.

Mekhayech, also co-founder of Toronto-based firm The Design Agency, has led the design process for the group’s eight properties in Berlin, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Dublin, London, Hamburg, and Venice.

Mekhayech recently answered several of Skift’s questions about producing extravagant designs on a budget and balancing private and public spaces in a hostel.

Skift: What design concepts transcend price point? Are there any similarities in the design approach for luxury brands like Soho House and Shangri-La and budget options like a Generator Hostel?

Anwar: I think materials and colors can transcend price point, but the key is understanding the audience. This is what leads the design approach for any budget, both luxury and budget. Being resourceful to respect a budget happens at all levels of design. We just try to speak to the end user and the business plan of the client. From there it is our job to make the spaces give off a certain energy and emotion.

Skift: So much focus in hostels are common areas and large rooms. How do you make space for quiet time via design?

Anwar: We try to make the spaces as diverse as possible. Yes, for Generator the whole essence of the concept is focused around great communal spaces that people share either privately or socially. We try to create nooks and crannies for single users, and to find space for larger groups.

In the chill-out areas we focus on sound absorbing materials and soft furniture. We produce an energy and noise flow diagram that we try to follow in terms of creating the mood in each space. This is also the guide for the AV programming, so the whole integration of the design follows a road map.

Skift: How do you incorporate local culture in a hostel while still keeping around a single theme?

Anwar: I am not sure there is ever a single theme, more a GEN style often inspired by the local culture but then we collaborate with local artists and suppliers as much as possible and that really brings in the flavor.

Skift: Is there such a thing as too much color?

Anwar: Depends who you ask. It’s very personal. I find the trick is to know how to combine colors or balance color. I also love spaces that are black and white and have no color accents. I wouldn’t have spaces that all scream color because I think you need time to rest in-between but color is a great way to engage a user and create different feelings and moods.

Read More About Generator:  The Company Re-Inventing Hostels With Smart Design and Social Media

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