Expanding its remit, US homeware brand West Elm will open ten hotels across the USA in 2018, each incorporating elements of design, art, cuisine and crafts relative to its location.
Beyond enabling the brand to show its products in a fresh context, the shift into hospitality also attunes to the consumer craving for local connections (see Local Matters: New Glocalisation Strategies). Presenting itself as a unifying faction, the new venture will see local residents invited to join guests in activities related to the brand’s core artistic DNA, including local craft making, talks by local cultural experts and cooking evenings.
Each hotel is furnished with West Elm’s own products, intertwined with art produced by local, community-focused creatives. Capitalising on the power of allowing people to buy when inspiration hits (see Trans-Industry Collaborations and Contextual Commerce), all of the artworks and West Elm furniture in the suites is available to purchase via a dedicated section on its website.
It’s not the first time a retailer has dabbled in the service industry with a community focus, but also with a ‘frenemy’ slant (where rival brands are embraced). Upscale bath and bedding retailer Parachute opened a hotel in California in April allowing guests to experience the brand’s own products next to furniture from independent designers that share Parachute’s gender-neutral aesthetic. The hotel also hosts dinners, workshops and talks for the local community. For more on frenemy retailing, see Renegade Retail in our Currency of Dissent Macro Trend.