What do you see but not see?
One day I noticed something that I had seen hundreds of times, but always ignored, and now I can’t unsee it. It happened in a hotel in Portugal and led to something of a strange passion…
Like many of you, my work often requires me to stay in hotels, and I am sure that, like me, the experience can be a little jading. The same TV channels, the same room layout, the same belief that £15.95 is a reasonable price for a cup of coffee and a bowl of cereal at breakfast.
And then it happened. That moment when something that is just accepted stands out and you wonder to yourself “Why is that a thing? Who thought that is a good idea, and what strange choices made by the people responsible brought it about?”
What had I seen?
Some furniture. In the corridor.
Not just any furniture. We are talking about a baroque table, with two elegant chairs either side of it, placed half-way down a long corridor, and it started me thinking.
Has anyone, ever, in the history of the world, been so overcome by the sudden need to write a letter, draw a picture of a zebra or fill out a tax form that they have stopped on their way to or from their room and looked around for a convenient location to satisfy that urge? Do the people who design hotel layouts live in constant fear of customer feedback forms that bemoan the lack of occasional tables?
Once I opened my eyes to this bizarre need to place furniture that no one in their right mind would ever use in places where it had no right to be, a passion was born. It seemed that every hotel I stayed in conformed to this requirement. It didn’t matter if I was in Scunthorpe or Bratislava; I could take comfort in the universal desire of hoteliers to express their individuality and commitment to customer comfort by placing chairs, tables and sofas in infinite, beautifully useless variations, so that the weary traveller or jet-lagged business person could have a bit of a sit-down whenever they felt like it. Even if they would never feel like it.
I tweet some of the finer examples of the art via my personal Twitter account, naturally called @ChairByTheLift – if you want to send me any pictures I will be delighted to receive them – but the phenomenon reflects a couple of the offers that we make at Colour; Noun, and, I hope, gives an insight into the kind of people we are.
First of all, what traditions and tropes and norms and rhythms have you stopped seeing in your business? How many of the things you do are there as “set dressing” and represent an idea that might have been a good one once, but that now is as useless as a chaise longue in a corridor?
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, what are the oddities that you need to celebrate and how can you do this? Perhaps you need people who see the world differently to help you take a look at yours with fresh eyes.
Have a sit-down on a piece of random hotel corridor furniture, think about it. and give us a call.
Colour; Noun (Vicky Holding and Howard Karloff)