Embrace the theatrical in hotel design: Charles Leon

by | 17 May 2020 | Experts

Charles Leon was a delegate and keynote presenter at TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR London 2020.

Charles Leon, Director of Leon Black, tells us why hotels should embrace the theatrical to design for experience.

Charles Leon, Director of Leon Black, spoke exclusively to TOPHOTELNEWS on the sidelines of TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR London 2020, which took place on February 6 at the Conrad St James, about how his background in theatre design informs his approach to hospitality.

What is your background in hospitality design?

Leon: My background isn’t hospitality design. I started off as a theater designer and then I moved gradually into films and then for various reasons. Then I sort of gravitated into hotel design because it’s very similar to designing for theater and designing for film. 

What drives your design philosophy for hospitality design?

Leon: I think what drives me more than anything is emotional manipulation. What’s really interesting is the psychology of why people behave in the way they behave, and what we can do as designers to enable them to either have the experience that they want, to behave in the way that we think they ought to behave, or to deliver some sort of new experience, a new behavior. The tools we have are different, say from a film director’s or a story writer’s, as we have textures, colors, materials, lights, space, sequencing, all those things that contribute to making a different design experience. 

What trends do you see dominating hotel design? 

Leon: I think the same thing that is happening with hotel designers is happening with art. The big art exhibitions at the moment are all about immersive experiences. And I think that most hotel design will not be focused so much on luxury as it will be on the experience and the emotional qualities of the experience. The experience is already more important than the decor or the style of the hotel. It’s going to be all about what experience you want to convey.

What exciting projects are you working on at the moment?

Leon: I think one of the most exciting projects at the moment is a care hub, which is going to be as upmarket as a boutique hotel. It has very specific operational requirements; it has to accommodate patients with dementia at one level, patients who’ve got early Alzheimer’s on the floor below, and then elderly people on the floor below that. So the challenge really is to make something that’s got dignity, that is good for the families as much for the residents. They’re taking everything that we know from boutique hotels and now incorporating it into care homes.

Charles Leon was a delegate at TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR London 2020. To attend, address or sponsor our boutique hospitality networking events around the world, contact the TOPHOTELPROJECTS team.

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