Design gurus Penson have launched a new hotel concept for millennials (or tripsters, as they have it!) called Jo & Joe. Weekend traveller and design fan Benjamin caught up with them to find out all about the plans for this Open House/hotel/hang out idea and their roll out to Paris, Bordeaux, Rio and beyond. The soundtrack to this is definitely a downbeat Zero 7: perfect for summer evenings…
Travel to come home
Like all of us, when we writers at The Idealist travel to other cities, we like to hunt out places to visit that offer something a little different, a little distinctive, and of course when we travel, it’s great to meet likeminded people! Especially when we choose a boutique hotel to stay in, we want that ‘home from home’ feel but also a cool place to socialise and hang out. It’s just the same on our home turf: people talk about a ‘third space’ that’s not the office and not your house. For some of use, that’s the gym — but maybe we want to relax, right? and not burn calories.
That’s why we got so excited when we saw the latest project from London-based interior designers Penson, who’ve just created a new city-centre living concept which is somewhere between a members’ club and a boutique hotel. With the likes of Jay-Z, Sky TV and Google as regular clients, Lee Penson’s team have an amazing roster of design successes under their belt and they’ve now turned their attention to hotels in the form of Jo & Joe.
Penson + hotels = reinvention
Penson create beautiful, intelligently designed spaces for the world’s most visionary brands, but to date most of their work has been centred on corporate HQs and the high-tech space (such as the interiors of Google HQ, Jaguar Land Rover, PlayStation and YouTube.)
Jo & Joe is their new hotels concept. Opening first in Paris and Bordeaux, they’re planning to have 50 venues by 2020. They’re describing them as an Open House concept, rather than a hotel, as they want us to interact with the social space whether or not we are staying at the hotel, so they have designed in a whole bunch of social elements, from a collaborative kitchen, where guests can cook meals and share recipes to yoga classes and bars. They’ve also come up with a range of sleeping options from modular sleeping through to private apartments, yurts and hammocks. Beyond the first two sites, they’re planning to open in Warsaw, Budapest, Rio and Sao Paulo.
A well-designed space is the secret to a happy and satisfying life
Hotel for ‘tripsters’
They’re targeting what they’re calling ‘tripsters’ – adventurous travellers, rather than the straight corporate market. It sounds to us a lot like a cross between WeWork and Soho House (and that’s no bad thing!) and rates will start low at 25 euros per night. In the design process, they worked with a Paris-based management school to refine the concept and with AccorHotels who provide the hotel muscle behind the new venture.
They’re also targeting townsters (locals!) with facilities for socialising, so they put a lot of effort into supporting connections, both through the design of the space, like places to hang out to eat pizza, and the design of an app to connect you with fellow travellers and events. As they put it
The beds are super comfy, but no one looks back on their life and remembers their nights of sleep. Go out and get social
Lee Penson, CEO of Penson and lead for the Jo&Joe initiative adds “A well-designed space is the secret to a happy and satisfying life – life is too short to spend time in sad or inefficient surroundings.”
Disruptive and comfy
The interiors we’ve seen look amazing and we love the idea of disrupting the hotel market. Across the whole writing team at The Idealist, we’ve stayed in our fair share of hotels, whether of the safe-but-boring variety for corporate travel, or the unique but tiny boutique hotels we all dream of (if you can get in!). With Jo&Joe we love the idea of the flexibility of the space and (smart move, Penson) the locations they’re targeting are ones they know are popular with millennials: the sites for the (can we call them) hotels will all be in city centres and within 15 minutes of major points of interest.
We’re just hoping that they manage to preserve the upscale elements as they roll out the design. We love our creature comforts as much as anyone and in the wrong hands, these places could end up like hostels. We’re really hoping that with a big hotel chain like Accor behind them, they’ll preserve the vision and the quality. Who’s for a trip to Bordeaux to test it out?!
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