Guests at a new boutique hotel in the heart of Northampton’s Cultural quarter will be relaxing in style when the building opens its doors next summer, thanks to on-trend Interior Design students from the town’s university.
Thirteen second year students studying the BA Interior Design programme have been working on a ‘live client brief’, providing design proposals for the new hotel’s tenants. This real-life, industry experience is just one example of the University of Northampton’s commitment to preparing students for their future careers after graduation.
Last month the students presented their work to their lecturers and the clients, who have promised to integrate elements of their designs into the new venture.
The clients, Rakesh and Minal Thakarar, leased the project site at 13/15 Guildhall Road last year, and builders are currently turning the two separate Victorian bay-fronted town houses into one larger hotel building. The four story building will feature a bistro, office and conference rooms, a courtyard and a variety of bedroom options.
University of Northampton lecturer Angelique Wisse explained: “Rakesh and Minal approached the University’s School of The Arts just before the summer to see if we were interested in doing a design project for their new boutique hotel. Over the summer I wrote a design brief, with Rakesh and Minal as the client. The students went to site at the end of September and have been working on the project throughout the term. The project contributes to the students’ final grade.”
Rakesh and Minal’s brief asked the students to create a hotel with a luxury classic contemporary interior, retaining the building’s original features and integrating these into the design proposals. For the rest of the design the students had free rein, and they produced a variety of themes, colour schemes and layouts.
Rakesh, the client, explained: “Myself and Minal were really impressed with all of the presentations and the passion which the students had put into their work which really shone through. They all provided elements of design that we would love to be able to incorporate, such as the suitcase reception desk, copper bathtub, rooftop garden, a painted/patterned ceiling, bespoke joinery shelving (with dual purpose as a space divider) as well as lots of glass walls/dividers and even a Moroccan shisha bar!“
He continued: “Part of the challenge for us now is to synthesise all of the wonderful material that the students presented into a common design output that works consistently across all of the interior space that we have to create. One of the other things that stood out for me was the design concept that Lucy proposed as a start point, which was to promote togetherness. This struck a chord with me as it summarises so much of what we want to achieve in the design, creating spaces in which people can connect, whether it be for business or leisure and providing them with a unique space that they can relax in and achieve their aims.
“While each of the students may have approached the task from different conceptual design start points, they all had elements of their designs that we feel could be used to create ‘togetherness’, and it is this unifying bond that we will be using to filter the elements that we will incorporate.”
Student Laura’s design featured a reception desk made from suitcases, a retail space contained within an old red telephone box, and a vibrant café area with orange and pink seating and glass tables. Her first floor bedrooms were inspired by India, with rooms named after spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg, kitted out in rich and sumptuous colours, while her second floor bedrooms took inspiration from Sweden, with rooms named after trees and headboards embossed with leaf designs.
The other students’ designs were equally impressive; Antonia’s theme of roses was explored with texture, colour and pattern, while Lucy’s concept featured reclaimed wood floors, copper baths and both matt and gloss tiles within the bathroom suites.
The students relished the chance to explore interior design on a live project. Antonia commented: “This is the best project I have been given so far as it is a live project and it is commercial design which is what I am interested in”, and her classmate Laura exclaimed: “This has been my favourite project so far. I really liked having a live project with an actual client. I can’t wait to see the final hotel!”
Lecturer Angelique Wisse commented: “Designing a boutique hotel is every designers dream. This project has given the students a wonderful opportunity to not only work with a real client, but the project itself is very inspiring. You usually don’t get such a good opportunity until you graduate. It has been a great learning curve for the students, visiting a real building site and learning how to deal with real life design constraints. All students have worked very hard on the project, and it has resulted in a very high standard of work. I am very proud of the result and the all the effort that has gone into it. The client, having seen all the presentations with so many design ideas need a little time to digest all the information and consider all the options. We will stay in touch with the client and visit the site on a regular basis.”
To find out more about the University of Northampton’s Interior Design degree, visit the website.
Pictured: the students, clients and their work.