Sleep, Europe’s uniquely curated hotel design and development event is taking a further step in its evolution this year by becoming Sleep + Eat
Proud of its reputation as a highly focused boutique event, Sleep has, over the past decade, informed, delighted, astonished and inspired legions of designers, hotel operators, owners and suppliers with its combination of disruptor room sets, thoughtful conference sessions and newly launched products. It has become the place to do business, make new connections and meet colleagues from around the world. Last year, Sleep welcomed over 4,800 visitors from across the UK and Europe as well as the Middle East and the USA - a 20% increase over 2016 - and, perhaps more to the point, attracting a chorus of praise from across the hotel industry such as from Harry Harris, founder of the development company behind London’s Curtain hotel: “I find Sleep ticks all my boxes,” he says. “It combines original and thought-provoking content with the opportunity to meet interesting people and catch up with industry influencers. It’s an event that understands the importance of high-quality innovation in hospitality development.”
Innovation and recognition of the growing interdependence of restaurants, bars and hotels in creating the full hospitality experience, lie at the heart of the decision to become Sleep + Eat, but the emphasis is very much on evolution, not revolution. As in previous years, Sleep + Eat will comprise an international exhibition of design-led products from established and newcomer manufacturers, a conference bringing together some of the sector’s most pioneering and respected characters, roundtable opportunities to talk with industry leaders, the Sleep Set concept room installations and the pop-up Sleeper Bar. In addition, this year will bring Eat Set and the increase in floor area gained by moving to the National Hall in London’s Olympia will allow for more first-time exhibitors, both suppliers to the restaurant and bar sector and to hotels. Meanwhile, continuing in the experiential vein of Sleep, expect some additional fun.
Why has Sleep become Sleep + Eat? Is there any significance in the timing?
There can be no denying that for many hotels, their food and beverage component has become more of a challenge and an opportunity than ever before. If they are going to do it well and make it financially successful, it has to be an experience – food, drink, service and environment - that appeals to their staying guests and the local community alike. A lot of convergence has gone on: Hotel bars that appear to be standalone bars, high street restaurants locating themselves in hotels, restaurant brands becoming hotel brands, top class restaurants opening a few bedrooms upstairs and so on. As we talked with our exhibitors and design partners, we realised that many of them were working across this confluence and that while Sleep did not necessarily exclude Eat, it did not shine a light on it either. Becoming Sleep + Eat was not a decision taken overnight but in the end, we all believed that this would open new doors for our community.
Can you tell us a few of the brands and designers who have already signed up?
Every year, we take great care to combine regular Sleep exhibitors with newcomers, manufacturers from around the world with small designer makers, high-quality well-known collections with edgy, youthful pieces. One hundred or so exhibitors from last year have already signed up, including Bang & Olufsen, Chelsom, Crosswater, Designers Guild, Dornbracht, Elegant Clutter, Fabbian, Harrison Spinks, Laufen, Loloey, Morgan Furniture, Roca, Style Library and Vitra. We’ll be announcing our new exhibitors in the summer. I’m also delighted to say that we have a full house when it comes to our Sleep Set participants. For now, their names are confidential but I can tell you that they encompass leading architectural and design practices based in the UK and in Asia.
Where do you think the future for design in hospitality lies?
Personally, I’m excited by convergence and the growth in demand for hybrid experiences – co-working, co-living, members’ clubs with hotels, restaurant and hotel brand collaboration. I do think that designers in hospitality are in a better, more exciting place now than a generation ago. Today, design is recognised as a vehicle for change in how we live our lives, and restaurants, bars and hotels are seen as places where new ideas can be piloted.
In your opinion, what makes the difference between a good show and a great one?
I think that, just like the hospitality sector, it’s about creating an exciting and meaningful experience. We have a fantastic community which really cares about their industry and works very hard to contribute to it and deal with the various challenges it throws up. A good show reflects the challenges and aspirations of its visitors; a great show responds to them in a way that is stimulating, re-affirming and enjoyable.
Looking forward over the next three years or so, what is your vision for Sleep + Eat
You might call it “carefully sculpted growth”. By this, I mean the ongoing development of opportunity for everyone involved in the creation of hospitality experiences to participate in the show, either as a visitor or contributor. Sleep + Eat will remain a boutique event focused on innovative ideas and high-quality products, and one way in which we will maintain its character is by reaching out to more overseas companies and individuals, wherever great work is being done. Sleep + Eat will continue the legacy of Sleep – identifying, exploring and reflecting the industry zeitgeist and, also, helping to nudge it forward.
Sleep + Eat will take place on Tuesday 20 – Wednesday 21 November at the National Hall in Olympia, London.