As hotel rooms become sleeker and increasingly minimal, the idea of a designated desk chair, arm chair and sleeper sofa is beginning to become passé. Increasingly, hoteliers and designers are finding ways to streamline the seating in guestrooms, and are using as few chairs as possible. “Chairs are becoming very utilitarian,” said Anna England Chaney, a contract furniture designer with Flexsteel Industries. “Designers are requesting a comfortable lounge chair that can be used as an ‘activity chair’ for work use and also a chair to kick back and relax in. It is all about fit, form and function.”
Jenny Vance, president of Astoria Compass, has also seen new designs turn chairs multipurpose. “[Designers are] putting casters on lounge chairs so that they’re a little bit more contemporary and up-to-date,” she said. “You can move it by the desk or have it by the bedside table.”
These changes, Vance said, reflect an ongoing shift in the way people work. “I use a desk when I’m in a room, but I’m finding there are fewer specified desks. That changes the look of the room’s seating, as well. So many people just use their iPads or laptops in bed.”
Late last year, IHG announced its new H4 design system for Holiday Inn hotels. A key element of the new design is a room type called “King Bed with Comfort Hideaway,” a room with a king-sized bed (a popular option for business travelers staying during the week) and a chaise lounge that converts to a twin bed with a trundle underneath, allowing a family of four to use the room on weekends. This one piece of furniture can double a room’s appeal and revenue.
Vance has also seen these types of sleeper lounges in hotel rooms, and appreciates their appeal. “This makes a lot of sense for the hotel because they can offer more sleeping accommodations,” she said. Some chaise lounges convert to a twin bed—ideal for a family with only one child—and others can fit two children.
Jammie Stamey of Office Star Products, however, doesn’t agree with the word “multifunctional.” Instead, he said, “space-saving” is a more appropriate term. “Instead of a bigger sofa sleeper, they’re using a club chair. When they use an office chair, they pick a model without arms,” he said of the newest designs.
“You’re looking at less wood; more fabrics and vinyls or imitation leather,” Stamey said about the materials used in guestroom chair design. High-quality vinyl, he noted, can look just like leather at a fraction of the cost, and is easier to clean than either genuine leather or fabric. Bonded leather—a material made from leather pulp—can also cut down the cost. “It gives a room a modern look than sofas,” he said. “It’s a cleaner, sleeker look.”
Chaney agreed. “Technology has seriously expanded for textiles over the last few years,” she said. “Stain- and water-repellent surfaces no longer feel like cardboard. They have a much softer hand, so the possibilities of design and purpose are endless.”