Why Hospitality Loves Retro-Nostalgia

Nostalgic design, retro interiors and their sun-soaked pastel charms have remained increasingly popular in the hospitality industry and beyond.

Today, the version we often see is a mashup of various design styles from the 20th century, creating a unique, eclectic blend that appeals to our collective cultural memory. We take a look at where these influencers originate.

One influential style on ‘retro nostalgia’ is art deco, which emerged after World War I as a celebration of industrial prosperity and the rise of luxury travel on ocean liners and trains. Interiors were often ornate, accompanied by just as distinctive print collateral. Many hotels in Europe, particularly in the French and Italian rivieras, were also designed in this style, further endorsing art-deco as the international language of luxury and leisure.

When we think of art deco, we might think of the rise of ocean liners – their ornate interiors or and their elegant print collateral.

Another style which emerged in the post-war era (World war II this time) is known as Miami Modernism. This style coincided with another boom in travel and holidaymaking, marked by the rise of large-scale resort-style hotels and motels. With the affordability of cars and gasoline prices in America, many more people were able to take budget vacations, and the domestic tourism industry was booming.

Miami Modernism embraced sleek lines, vibrant colors, and an overall sense of optimism – maybe something we’re yearning for more than ever in 2023.

Miami Modernism coincided another boom in travel and holidaymaking, marked by the rise of large-scale resort-style hotels and motels.

The wider design style of the 1950s and 1960s took inspiration from the excitement surrounding space travel and the introduction of new materials like plastic. (Maybe we’re just as excited about making it to Mars as we were about the moon landing?) Cars with fins, boomerang shapes, and metal orbs were iconic stylistic motifs of this era.

The contemporary notion of ‘retro nostalgia’ we see today often borrow features from these various styles, creating a fusion that embodies renewed values and retains the positives of each era. As time goes on, these different styles become less distinct from one another and can be reinvented and blended into a retro-inspired design that reappropriates them for new contexts.

“Retro design we see today often borrows features from these various styles, creating a fusion that embodies renewed values and retains only the positives of each era.”

So why do we keep revisiting the post war optimism of the 20th century? One reason is its association with iconic hotels in popular culture, such as the glamorous Beverly Hills Hotel and fictional establishments like Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest hotel. These hotels have left a lasting impression on our minds and have influenced popular color schemes and aesthetics.

Iconic hotels in popular culture, such as the glamorous Beverly Hills Hotel and fictional establishments like Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest hotel have left a lasting impression in our collective memory.

In 2023 we’ve seen retro-nostalgic design is still alive and kicking, with the opening of hotels like the Il Capri Hotel in Capri. This design not only pays homage to the history of Capri and the building itself, but also celebrates a golden era and nostalgic notion of holiday making and its corresponding styles.

Il Capri Hotel II

Il Capri II hotel is a traditional, yet contemporary vision in pink.

The iconic island of Ibiza is littered with retro inspired hotels. Paradiso Hotel (Ilmiodesign), which opened a few years ago and remains high-profile in the design world is brilliant example of the incorporation of styles like Miami modernism and art deco, but with the renewed values of the contemporary traveller. It beautifully captures the essence of retro glamour while infusing it with renewed values. The hotel features cantilevered balconies, eclectic retro interiors, exterior fins, and candy-colored palettes, creating a sense of optimism, leisure and frivolity.

Paradiso Hotel, Ibiza (Ilmiodesign).

Mongibello Hotel, Ibiza (Ilmiodesign).

Beyond hospitality, this retro-nostalgic style has also gained popularity in pop-ups and activations. This Summer we saw Louboutin’s pop-up in Tokyo to Nespresso’s peachy offering in the south of France.

Retro interiors and the trend of retro-nostalgia continues to have a significant impact on the hospitality industry and beyond. Its enduring popularity can be attributed to its association with iconic hotels, its ability to evoke a sense of glamour and leisure, and its adaptability to contemporary aesthetics.

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