Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide unveiles Starlab, the company’s new brand innovation studio located in Manhattan’s pioneering Garment District.
Design-led with the spirit and agility of a start-up, Starlab brings together a cross-section of the company’s digital, design and luxury brand teams in one urban office for the first time. The 46,000 square foot, bi-level office is an evolution of Starwood’s approach to new style workspaces, following the debuts of the Starwood Experience at the company’s global headquarters in Stamford, CT as well as its former Tribeca-based design centre.
“In today’s world, it is more important than ever for our teams to collaborate and think differently about our business,” said Phil McAveety, Chief Brand Officer, Starwood Hotels & Resorts. “Starlab has been designed to easily allow teams to interact and engage across functions in order to create innovative and more personalized experiences for our guests before, during and after each stay.”
Starlab merges Starwood’s high-touch business with high-tech thinking and serves as a creative hub to immerse associates, owners, developers, customers and partners in the company’s latest two- and three-dimensional design work, leading-edge guest technology and unique brand programming. Designed by Starwood’s in-house creative team with VM Architecture Studio PC, StarLab is pursuing LEED certification, reinforcing the company’s commitment to reducing energy use by 20%, water use by 30%, and carbon emissions by 30% by 2020.
High Tech Meets High Touch
Inspired by the rise of social connectivity reshaping global business, Starwood brought digital and social content to the forefront of Starlab’s design. At the office entrance, a smart mirror doubles as a digital display showcasing Starwood’s latest video news, photography and user-generated content. A digital chandelier splays down the internal staircase – part art installation, part news ticker – bringing real time guest twitter comments into the office environment, while five digital feed frames rotate guests’ Instagram posts in a gallery-style space adjacent to the communal dining area.
“Starlab serves as our rally cry for innovation, a proving ground for new ideas, and a way to encourage collaboration among our design, digital and brand teams,” said Mike Tiedy, Senior Vice President, Global Brand Design and Innovation, Starwood Hotels & Resorts. “In addition to creating a dramatic sense of arrival, we used every square foot of real estate available to tell our brand stories in new ways.”
Starlab also houses a Tech Lab to experiment and test the company’s latest digital innovations, such as the recent game-changing introductions of SPG Keyless, allowing travelers to opt out of traditional check-in for a truly mobile guest experience.
New Style Working: Balancing “We” and “Me”
Starlab has been designed to promote cross-functional collisions and foster creativity, which means there are a variety of workspaces that afford more or less privacy for associates, as needed. “Many of the guest trends we’re seeing in our hotels became relevant as we started to design Starlab,” continued Tiedy. “People seek out inspiring spaces to conduct casual meetings, flexible seating to scroll through a tablet presentation or individual work areas that offer some privacy – our associates are no different.”
Individual desks can be personalised for associates to sit, stand or balance on a stability ball, while modular seating areas with banquettes and objects d’art bring smaller groups together to ideate. The Library provides a semi-private space for informal meetings with bleacher-style seating and flexible tables, design boards and projectors; and dining areas, including an outdoor terrace, feature communal tables with flexible seating options.
Starlab has also reinvented the traditional staid conference room with designer suites representing The Luxury Collection, St. Regis, W and Le Méridien brands. For instance, the W Suite channels the brand’s cocktail culture, replacing the conference table with a bar inset with LED lighting that highlights a beverage display, bar stools flanked by smoked bronze mirrors and a revolving “art wall” dedicated to storytelling from W hotels and resorts around the world.
With the opening of Starlab, Starwood has also launched a virtual Starlab, www.starlab.tumblr.com, showcasing the innovations and behind-the-scenes creative stories of Starwood teams from around the world.