If you think GRAND BOUTIQUE is about hotels, you're right. If you suspect it's not only about hotels, you're also right.

When we recently spotted Dubai's new Mina A' Salam Hotel, the world's first hotel to proudly call itself GRAND BOUTIQUE, boasting nearly 300 boutique style rooms and 'haute design' amenities, we realized that 'boutique' had finally gone mainstream. Considered to be catering to a niche, whimsical audience only a handful of years ago, boutique or design-hotels are now the de facto standard for any new lodging project (and some existing ones as well) around the world, whether they're small or 'grand'.

It's not like the GRAND BOUTIQUE phenomenon should have come as a total surprise to incumbents: after all, the world's first boutique hotels opened up their well-designed doors some 20 years ago, from Anouska Hempel's 'Blakes' in London to Schrager's 'Morgans' in New York. Yet, even now, TRENDWATCHING.COM still stumbles upon many established, premium-priced hotels looking like they were designed by a color-blind 80-year old with a deep love for fake Louis XIV attributes, with service levels to match. A quick hint to these laggards: the players to catch up with now are GRAND BOUTIQUE experts like Starwood-owned W Hotels who have applied the boutique concept to large, international chains.

Is the GRAND BOUTIQUE trend unique to the lodging industry? Nope. Design-driven innovation, based around changing customer needs, will always be disruptive across many industries. What starts out as unconventional or niche, may -- by riding the waves of demographic and societal change -- suddenly find itself representing the unquestioned status quo. Think Apple and computers. Virgin and airlines. IKEA and furniture. Calvin Klein and underwear, Nokia and phones, Alessi and household products, Starbucks and daytime cafes.

Want more background info on GRAND BOUTIQUE? Read our MASS CLASS and MASSCLUSIVITY trend descriptions, and check out Tom Peter's new book, "Re-imagine! Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age": he's bigger than ever on design as THE resource essential to differentiate an organization from its competition.

And if you're looking for a well-designed, comfortable place to read and digest, may we recommend the Mina A' Salam? ;-) We will do the same, and bring you more on GRAND BOUTIQUE in upcoming editions. >> Email this trend to a friend.


APRIL 2004 | Thanks to a vibrant mix of ONLINE OXYGEN and HYPERTASKING, consumers are increasingly working from home these days, sometimes full-time, more often at night and in the weekends (one IDC study expects the number of mobile workers to reach 55 million this year in the US, and European studies signal the same significant numbers and percentages for some Western European countries).

So, with the boundaries between work and play blurring, home offices will increasingly be where consumers will spend some of their most valuable hours. At the same time, the traditional office furniture market is still kind of, well, STYLE CHALLENGED! In our book, that spells OPPORTUNITY. So TRENDWATCHING.COM wasn't too surprised to recently find an eight page spread in stylish Wallpaper Magazine, touting high design home office solutions for the Creative Class, whose dwellings are increasingly morphing into fully wired, fully equipped home offices. For the cash-flush, Wallpaper recommended Julian Brown desk equipment, Clipiola paper clips by Cavallini & Co, and file holders by Magis. Sounds too boutique and whimsical? Then consider this GRAND BOUTIQUE spotting, proving the beautification of the home office is about to go MASS CLASS:

Office Depot, the office supplies giant, recently introduced the Christopher Lowell Collection (designed by Lowell, the Emmy-award winning designer and TV personality), offering 'affordable office furniture and accessories that work with any look, any lifestyle, and any budget'. As ads (popping up in small business mags like Entrepreneur) for the new furniture line put it:

"If you wanted your home office to look like an office, you'd work in an office"! And "Can you spot the office in this home office"? Witness the birth of yet another industry, courtesy of GRAND BOUTIQUE!

And to stick with the office/storage/work theme: fast expanding 'The Container Store', already basking in the glow of our trend, advertises its actual storage products as stylish alternatives to the usual bland boxes, racks and containers found in non-descript dollar stores. In their own words: "Make a statement with your organized space." Basically, with its GRAND BOUTIQUE approach to mundane goods, The Container Store is to storage what the W Hotels are to modern lodging!

If Office Depot and The Container Store can do it, so can you: applying design to not only improve the looks of your products, but also to adapt to a new reality: modern design is no longer 'just' modern, it's become the design standard for today's 'average' consumer. Think Apple and computers. Virgin and airlines. IKEA and furniture. Calvin Klein and underwear, Nokia and phones, Alessi and household products, Starbucks and daytime cafes, and now, Office Depot and home offices! Who's next?
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