Kimball Hospitality Evokes a Speakeasy Spirit with its New Collection
At HD Expo, the hospitality veteran releases luxurious case-goods and seating that support new trends in guest-rooms and social spaces.
1952 was a pivotal year for the hospitality industry. Kemmons Wilson and his family had embarked on a cross country road trip the year before. Prompted by the consistency and familiarity of comfort they craved on the trip, Kemmons opened the first Holiday Inn, and then went on a decades long building spree across America. Thanks to his motto—“The best surprise is no surprise”—the American traveler came to expect the same level of quality and service from major hotel brands no matter where they found themselves. In recent years however, this long held notion no longer stands as a new generation of guests seek out hospitality environments that are not only comfortable places to sleep, but which can provide more unique, personal, and locally specific experiences.
Kimball Hospitality, one of the nation’s top manufacturers of casegoods, is keeping an eye on this scenario. At HD Expo this May, the company is launching a new line of casegoods created in collaboration with Indiana-based Interior Image Group (IIG) and intended to showcase Kimball Hospitality’s capabilities not only as a custom manufacturer but as a force for distinctive design.
For decades since its inception, Kimball has remained relevant by carefully adapting itself to the shifting marketplace. In the 1950’s it was plywood cabinets for TVs and hi fi systems that propelled the business forward. Then in 1985, the company launched the Kimball Hospitality division and steadily rose to prominence manufacturing custom furniture and casegoods for the likes of Marriott, IHG, and MGM Grand. The new collection represents yet another step in the evolution of the company. “We’ve always been known for quality and service, but working with IIG on this project has allowed us to delve into the evolving trends of the hospitality industry,” says Adria Henke, brand manager at the company, who helped guide the collaboration with IIG.
The pieces being launched at HD Expo encompass everything from soft seating, guestroom casegoods, and lounge pieces to large scale furniture for bars and public spaces. Inspired by Art Deco motifs, the pieces abound in rich lacquered wood finishes, supple upholstery, and intricate wood and metal inlays—the designers’ ode to the proverbial speakeasy. A great example is the side table: semi-circular in plan, it perfectly overlaps a circular pouf and complements its geometry, while the mix of materials—metal, wood and velvet—adds drama to any keenly designed space. Similarly, the quirky yet classic lighting fixtures draw one’s attention to the source of light, much like a statement accessory completes a tailored outfit. Designers will find convenience-oriented technology integrated thoughtfully throughout the collection; refrigerated drawers in the guestroom, wireless charging in nightstands, and pop-up charging ports concealed within the center of the communal tables to keep bothersome cords out of the way. Needless to say, the full breadth of Kimball Hospitality’s capabilities is on display here and represents a promising vision for the company in a changing industry.
As hoteliers and their guests embrace higher caliber, more experimental design, predictability and standardization in branded casegoods is no longer the primary objective. “Designers are looking to vendors to provide a wider range of offerings that allow us to express our creativity but in a manner that is well-made and price-sensitive,” says Leslie Schultz, IIG’s vice president of design. In shirking the “cookie cutter” approach Kimball Hospitality is confident its mix of expertise in custom fabrication and renewed emphasis on design will be an attractive combination in a saturated market.