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German Lab Invents the Future of Hotel Luxury

Illustration for article titled German Lab Invents the Future of Hotel Luxury

In the hotel room of the future, your windows will transform into television screens, your bed will rock you to sleep, and robots will deliver cocktails straight from your minibar. At least, that is the future imagined by one branch of Germany’s Fraunhofer Society, where scientists and engineers gather to create hotels and amenities for the next century.

Illustration for article titled German Lab Invents the Future of Hotel Luxury

The Fraunhofer Society is made up of dozens of research institutes throughout Germany, each practicing an area of applied science. The laboratory in Duisberg is focused on concocting futuristic designs and amenities for luxury hotels:

Its carpet is lined with sensors which monitor the guest's arrival and, without delay, heats the room to the required temperature. The bed simulates a light pendulum motion. "It feels as if you were being gently rocked from a seven meter long rope," project leader Vanessa Borkmann said. "It's like being in Nirvana." The frequently humble hotel bathroom is revamped into the "Future-spa." Here infrared beams from the walls can instantly transform it into a sauna and up to two people can bathe in the whirlpool set in the floor. Meanwhile, room service also gets a modern twist: at the touch of a switch, a robot delivers the drink of your choice.


Luxury hotel features are quickly becoming an arms race among design companies. While the Waterworld project in Songjiang, China and the Poseidon Hotel in Fiji will feature underwater suites, the Apeiron Island Hotel in Dubai will be reachable only by helicopter or boat. But Fraunhofer’s interior design-focused and technology-driven innovations suggest luxury that goes beyond novelty. German Laboratory Dreams up Hotel of the Future [Spiegel]

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Designers always seem to over-design things. That hotel room, for instance. It's essentially a single unit — all those swoopy curves fit together. That's great until you want to expand the room, or change something, or add some new gadget which the designers didn't anticipate.

Real-life rooms are incremental. You put in furniture, and you can change individual pieces, add things, repaint the walls, whatever, without revamping the whole room. They can be retrofitted and repurposed — old office buildings can become condos or hotels, factories become offices and shops, etc. This super-futuristic hotel can't be changed easily into something else — you'd have to gut it down to the studs.

Finally, I wish futurists would stop living in the past. I'm forty-odd years old, and visions of the future have been more or less the same my whole life. Smooth white curves, groovy-shaped doors and windows, "organic shapes" you can't sit down on, yadda yadda.

I'm using a high-tech computer right now, sitting in a restored mill. I'm in a wooden chair at a table made of an old sewing-machine stand. There isn't a smooth white curve anywhere except for the coffee cup next to my computer.