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发布日期:2022-11-17 08:41     点击次数:104


If we talk about local and about global in relation with our built hospitality environment, we touch inevitably a topic that is called “Cross Culture”.

Traveling – the basis of everything requiring hospitality - means: Crossing boundaries, crossing countries, discovering unknown cultures. In a more technical sense, Cross-Cultural Design means to design in a way that people from different cultural backgrounds can easily use a certain design without much explanations.

Colours in culture. © informationisbeautiful.net

In the above image you see how colors can express different emotions or meanings in different cultural groups or regions, for example in Europe, Asia, or even between East & West Europe, China and Japan.

We can easily understand that the knowledge of such basics is important in everyday life, in the same way as it is for designing a hotel. If e.g. you do not know which colours are suitable or unsuitable for certain places, events or occasions in a certain culture, you can easily make a serious faux pax in design.

However when we design hotels, we almost never meet a situation that is shown in the following photo: People who are puzzled and desperate to find their way.


subway station in Tokyo/Japan ©22places.com

Hotel guests, especially those in 4-star to 6-star hotels, are usually very familiar with traveling also to unknown destinations, they normally expect to find and will find an environment where they can easily get around.

Why we need crossing cultures

The fact that – regardless of the latter – we need anyhow to use Cross-Cultural Design in hospitality, for more than supporting orientation and avoiding embarrassing situations, can have 5 different reasons:


Tourists in general (but also a relevant proportion of business travelers) have the wish to experience local culture when they travel to a place which they do not know.

Experiencing local culture in an Austrian boutique hotel


Even when not traveling abroad, it has become popular to discover remote places without leaving your home country. “Theme-related tourism” takes place from province to province, or even within the same city.


“German Street” with German style hotels in Changde


Lifestyles have blended and adjusted and mixed with each other during the past decades. It is common to live Western lifestyle at a time, an Eastern lifestyle at another. The mix of cultures, the marriage between East and West has become reality since a long time and needs to be considered in hospitality design.

Cross-cultural design is not the lack of awareness of local culture which is required so persistently by many hotel developers in China, it is an enrichment and a surplus value, but only if it is well done.

French restaurant Belon in SoHo, Central Hong Kong: coexistence of culinary cultures. Photo: May Tse


Some hotel brands do want to export the DNA of their mother country also to foreign destinations. Such culture export can occur in both directions: “West meets East” when mainly high-ranking European hotel brands try to settle down in Asian countries …. or “East meets West”, when Asian luxury brands reach out for occidental market.

But more than a fusion, the opposite cultures meet in a side-by-side encounter, they complement each other: Western hotel guests want to experience Asia, at the same time not give up their international habits. Asian travelers want to discover the “Old World”, at the same time not miss their culinary and other daily conventions.

Anantara Budapest: Thai Elegance in Hungary©Anantara Hotels

Maritim Taicang: North-German ambiance near Shanghai©RhineScheme


A cultural gap does not only exist between countries and regions, but also between generations. And the gap becomes bigger the faster societies develop. We live in a period of “anything goes”.

When it comes to hospitality, the familiar roles of generations could be changing: Senior people might like a rather reduced, modern design and a casual environment, whereas younger people might prefer a clearly conservative, formal style. The borders are blurring: Traditional/Formal meets Contemporary/Casual in often unexpected ways. Also these intergenerational changes are cross-cultural challenges, and rather subtle ones.

Intergenerational changes are cross-cultural challenges

Finding one’s position

When we are designing, and all designers practicing in Asia will experience the same or similar conflicts, we usually have to find our position between the poles shown here:

We have to look for our standpoint on this compass card, not because we love assuring ourselves, but mostly because we are forced - by the sheer complexity of a design project - to define the direction in which we are going. In the end we need to satisfy a whole bunch of differing requirements brought to us, the designers.

When we are defining our position, we are often crossing cultures, levitating between East and West, and also between the habits of the past and the just developing culture of the present.

Also as designers in the hospitality field we are marking our position for all the disciplines we are working in:

► urban planning

► architecture

► interior design

In the following diagrams (which are all composed by hospitality projects of RhineScheme designers) you can see how different results can appear depending on the once chosen direction which can vary from “Western/Contemporary” to “Traditional/Asian”.

diagrams: ©RhineScheme

But these diagrams only show a simplified reality. The choices you take can be different on different design levels, from an urban/landscape planning scale down to the selection of movable furniture and decorative lighting.

Everybody who had the chance to design a high standard hotel knows that things become more complex when you try integrating all planning aspects. Finding one’s position does NOT mean that we define a clear, unshiftable position that covers all aspects of a hotel within a simple compass “old-new-east-west”.


The rather complex diagram which you see below and which reflects a possible scenario corresponds more to reality:

diagram: ©RhineScheme

Very often we need to do a fine-tuning in the different fields of requirements, in order to provide the best hotel experience, for a certain brand and for a certain location.

If the assigned hotel operator accompanies and guides the design of a hotel project from the very beginning (which is of course an ideal but not a normal situation), 精品 then the positioning of the shown features depends on the hotel brand (which in the diagram is placed irresolutely in the middle) and how the hotel operator sees its position and USP.

How to cross cultures successfully

Cultural conventions – to repeat – are formed by locations and generations, and it is commonplace that they play a decisive role in hotel design. It is obvious that a juvenile Thai is quite different from a senior Thai and even more different from a middle-aged Spaniard. But all of them can be potential guests in an imagined Chinese hotel, and all of them want to feel in the same way welcomed and pampered.

How can we achieve good design results when we are crossing cultures? (“Good” in above sense means: well accepted by guests and hotel operator alike.) There are several well-proven methods:

► engage an intercultural, intergenerational design team

Firstly, it is highly advisable to engage an international, intercultural, intergenerational design team; our own design team as it has been composed over years just to be taken as an example:

RhineScheme Beijing designers during the past 8 years

Our designers have ideally lived and worked in different parts of the world, they studied abroad or both at home and abroad, they are fluent in 2 to 3 languages or more, they worked in international design companies, teamed up with colleagues of a dozen of different nationalities, and they are from 25 to 70 years old. That is one rather necessary or even inevitable precondition.

► avoid kitsch & copy

Another one is following a certain design guideline, a standardizing body of design tools and design principles which a design company should have established over the years and which avoids certain undesired faux pas.

An often met faux pas when it comes to integrating unfamiliar design principles of the past or those of foreign cultures is kitsch in any form, i.e. design that is showy, cheap, meaningless, fake and lacks of any appreciation or understanding of the original which it is trying to copy.

Another faux pas would be a too direct and rash adaptation of either traditional or imported design elements, which may end in a design that looks technically correct, but has no soul, or reveals its mistakes in wrong details or in faulty compositions of elements.

► design in an effortless manner

There are for sure ways to moderate between cultures and generations which are - on the surface - not difficult to adapt, but which nonetheless are still seldom to be seen.

For example the fact that a certain nonchalance and laxness is needed to design interior spaces that are easily accepted by older and younger generations alike.

Spaces designed in a nonchalant way may look effortless, but in fact they are result of a careful and artful mix of styles, colors, and furniture,久久精品国产69国产 old and new, equipment and fabrics, in such a way that things appear coherent and inviting.

It is for sure that such design can neither be learned nor taught in a satisfying way, since it is more based on a general attitude and lifestyle.

Tradition meets Contemporary / Casual meets Formal. Designing in a nonchalant way can hardly be learned. (Lobby of “Brahms Grand Hotel”, Changde/Hunan Province. ©RhineScheme/b-k-i)

► learn from intercultural / intergenerational spaces

A rather easy-to-handle method of creating intercultural / intergenerational spaces is to look for and take reference of such spaces that are popular among all kinds of people, independent from age and background. The pair of images below is immediately understandable.

Teahouse in Chengdu/China. Right: Beer garden in Munich/Germany

A beer-garden in Bavaria and a teahouse in Sichuan provide both the same inviting atmosphere based on quite simple design principles. You do not need to lower yourself to the level of American fast-food chains to find other good references for spaces that would work well in totally different locations like e.g. Oslo and Jinan.

Finally, there are 2 efficient strategies how gaps between different cultures or generational tastes can be bridged or balanced, always assuming that bridging gaps can support a broader acceptance and attraction for any hospitality project, which in principle is an economic advantage.

The following images are abstract samples for the techniques in question, but it is not difficult to imagine how they could be applied to any area of design and to any scale.

► abstraction / reduction / simplification

Left: Ming dynasty meditation chair (China). Right: Hans Wegner “Wishbone Chair” from 1949 (Denmark)

From German Bauhaus designers to Scandinavian and American mid-century designers, modernists have often been inspired by Asia. In an abstract, reduced, simplifying way.

Hans Wegner helped to define Danish design with his Ming-inspired “Wishbone Chair” (right photo). Art historians have drawn clear connections between Marcel Breuer’s “Wassily Chair” - an icon of modernism of the 1920s - and 17th century Qing and Ming Meditation Chairs (left image).

If you want to reconcile Eastern and Western culture, or Old and New, or both of them, the images above can give an illuminating lesson.

There are different degrees of abstraction which can be used flexibly in any design field, also for the selection of artworks in a hotel. The sequence of lithographs below, all from Pablo Picasso, are however meant in a general sense.

When your task as designer is e.g. to create a somehow classical European or a typical Japanese restaurant, it depends on the hotel brand’s DNA and on the intellectual capacity of the Owner/Investor if you stay more or less literal and trivial (left side) … or if can realize a degree of abstraction that appeals more to the intellect than to the stomach.

«Les 11 états successifs de la lithographie le taureau», by Pablo Picasso 1945

If you – as designer - want to avoid kitsch, but are obliged and willing to cater to a hotel’s programming that requires e.g. a fusion of styles, epochs, cultures, or generational tastes, then a concept that remains in the middle between literal and abstract can have brilliant results, and must not end in an inauthentic “neither-fish-nor-fowl” compromise.

Once more, we take an artwork as a principle explanation for techniques of designing.

Picasso’s oil painting “Woman by the Sea” from 1922 is symptomatic for his so-called “Neoclassical Period”.

After his cubist period (objects are broken up and reassembled in abstracted form), he began – like many artists in the 1920s - introducing classicist elements to his work, which can be seen as a “return to order” and a more realistic style after the chaos of WWI and of the art movements.

The method he used was not so much a transition, but an overlapping of styles: cubist and classical.

In the painting below he imitated a sculptural form on a two-dimensional surface by modeling with light and shadow. The woman’s dark, wavy hair, her serene expression, the languid pose, and draped dress all reflect Hellenistic Greek influence.

Pablo Picasso: ‘Woman by the Sea’ from 1922 (Neoclassical Period)

But the semi-abstracted and also distorted way of painting makes immediately clear that his work is a non-literal adaptation and a creative re-interpretation of the time he is living in, marrying Hellenistic culture with that of the early 20thcentury.

Creative re-interpretation is also what interior design, architecture or landscape design is supposed to do in a hospitality project that wants to to bridge cultures or epochs.

► alienation: distortion – confrontation – collage

Last not least, and going one subtle step further, there is a couple of quite modern techniques or strategies that can help bridging gaps and bringing seemingly incompatible things together.

If you have a closer look at Picasso’s painting above, you recognize that it is not only abstracted, but also distorted. The forms of the body are deliberately distorted, the figure is foreshortened, space and depth are compressed. Isolation against a barren background accentuates the woman’s massiveness, making her presence overpowering.

Alienation in design means: deliberately distorting a pure and correct appearance, for two reasons: Either to make viewers think about sense and contents of an object, or to destroy any doubt about the date of creation and make clear that a design object is a child of present time.

The technique of alienation by letting opposing objects collide can be applied to interior design elements, to artworks, but also to large-scale urban planning areas, e.g. by inserting very advanced, contemporary buildings into a reconstructed heritage site or into a themed tourist development.

Bringing old and new together or East and West, so that contradictions or even conflicts are made visible, must not end in disharmony. Everybody knows how satisfying modern furniture can match with all kinds of traditional buildings.

The photo artwork below can exemplify the desired effect: The Swiss artist Christian Tagliavini is designing by photographs a world that is still unknown to anybody, showing fashion from “tomorrow’s yesterday” or vice versa, “yesterdays’ tomorrow”. A viewer may ask: Do these photos show the most beautiful of all past times, or is it an unreal future?

Expressions and gestures, materials and fabrics, colors and lighting, are all directing towards past (Renaissance) times, but the almost surreal shapes of the headgears are present-day’s inventions that never existed before, but could have existed. Or not?

If people start asking questions, it is already the first step away from apathy or indifference, towards real emotional relationship. And binding people is what a hotel aims at …

Christian Tagliavini: ‘Series 1406’

This text is the first part of a lecture held on March 30, 2021 by RhineScheme’s CEO Wolf Loebel on the occasion of the “Interior Design Forum” - part of “Shanghai Hotel & Shop Plus”, the biggest gathering of the hospitality industry in China.

The second part, to be published in one of our next posts国产A精彩视频精品视频下载, will present several of our hospitality projects, which all deal with cross-cultural design, bringing culture across borders. Either in a direct, easily recognizable way, or more in a more subtle, decent manner.