Partnership “Through Design and Innovation, we can create a new and positive world”: discussion with Accor’s Damien Perrot and designer Tristan du Plessis

Today, we celebrate World Tourism Day 2023, highlighting the need for more new and innovative solutions for people, for planet and for prosperity. To mark this day, we sat down with Damien Perrot, Accor’s Global Chief Design, Technical Services & Innovation Officer for Premium, Midscale & Economy Brands and the international award-winning interior architect Tristan du Plessis to discuss how Design and Innovation can help bring to life the hospitality of the future.

Discover the Video of their Letter to the Future “Design of Tomorrow”

Today’s guests want experiences that are authentic and immersive, and spaces adapted to their increasingly flexible lifestyles. Design is a key element of the guest experience and we innovate with design to create memorable experiences and emotion for our guests. But for our team members too: being in an environment they can be proud of, it contributes to an even greater engagement with guests. Design also contributes to greater sustainability, for example through biophilic design, which offers multiple advantages to environmentally sustainable design such as reducing environmental impact and enhancing people well-being by creating healthier living and working environment.

The Accor Design Awards, Accor’s global competition for architecture and interior design students inaugurated in 2016, uncover emerging trends and talents, to imagine the hospitality industry of tomorrow. We were privileged to have Tristan du Plessis as our headjudge in 2022.

Damien Perrot
Design is much more than aesthetic. Design is a driver of growth, sustainability, and empowerment of people. It starts with the needs of our guests and our owners. Our role is to create experiences that differentiate each brand and enhance performance and value for our guests and investors. But also to improve the employee experience. It’s about always challenging the status quo, always rethinking hospitality.

Tristan du Plessis
Design and innovation are a set of tools that we have to advance our industry forward. I think it's really important to ask the question “why”: “Why does a hotel need to be the way that it was before? 

Transformation Shaped by Design: The Art of Taking Risks

In recent years, we have seen profound shifts in the world in the way we work, travel, and live. Design has both adapted to and trailblazed this transformation, going beyond traditional hospitality to create hybrid spaces where travel and lifestyle merge: one place does not equal one usage anymore. Hotels are social hubs, integrated within the local community and appealing to both travelers and locals. This strategy applies to all segments, from the ibis “life hub” concept, which welcomes everyone as if they were at home, to the MGallery’s bespoke, locally rooted design aesthetics. And this innovation mindset can only truly flourish within a design-oriented culture that continually explores boundaries and fosters open collaboration.

Damien Perrot
To leverage the full potential of design, you need to dare. You need to create a kind of recipe that will bring innovation. You need to have people who are able to reset everything they have learned, to reinvent themselves, to create surprises – because this is the secret of emotion. You need to trust and you need to try.

Tristan du Plessis
My challenge is creating a hotel that is guest-centric. Instead of trying to make the hotel feel local: collaborate with locals, so that it becomes a locally sourced project that forms a part of the local neighbourhood. And with the beauty and power of collaboration, Accor will have their ideas, I will have my ideas, and we will question them and create a third new idea that pushes a brand forward. 

Finding the Sweet Spot: Design and Performance

Design is also a key lever for unlocking the full potential of each square meter within every hotel. As an integral part of the design process, it involves stepping back and considering the broader perspective: finding the right balance between business objectives and the needs of our guests.

Damien Perrot
A good designer takes the budget constraints as a creative element. Performance is my leitmotiv. We want to create the place where we would like to live tomorrow. It is definitively through performance that we are leading the change.

Tristan du Plessis
To have a rich and fertile space for creativity and innovation, we need a few core ingredients. The one that may seem a bit boring – but crucial – is understanding the budgetary constraints to focus on innovation. That’s where the beauty between performance and design comes into play.

Design of Tomorrow: Designing the World We Want to Live In

The hospitality industry stands at the forefront of design’s future. We believe it is our role to challenge the status quo, foster innovation, embrace risk, and continuously refine our design strategies to push the industry into new frontiers.

We want to create iconic projects, projects that break the mold. Design, innovation, entrepreneurship: they are the ingredients we need to create the future where we would like to live tomorrow. Thanks to Design and Innovation, we can create a new and positive world. We just need to dare, try, and trust.

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