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New Hotel Concept Zoku Promises Socially Focused, Customizable Spaces For “Global Nomads”

A new hotel concept embraces the blurring of work/life boundaries and provides “global nomads with a local social life.”

The blurring of the lines between business and leisure is the inspiration behind a new hotel concept with crowd sourced design features launched this month by Amsterdam-based startup Zoku.

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Part home, part office, Zoku Loft combines the services of a hotel with the social buzz of a local neighborhood, its founders claim. Designed to be suitable for long-term stays of weeks as well as just one or two days, it is living and work space rather than bathroom and bed that take priority in the customizable rooms.

Zoku co-founders Hans Meyer and Marc Jongerius brand the target market for this new hotel concept “global nomads.”

“Driven by advanced technology and a better infrastructure, people from a variety of backgrounds, nationalities and disciplines have become a growing, collaborative, traveling business movement roaming the world,” Meyer explains. Though these people enjoy strong online connections, their offline–real and physical–connections while traveling away from the office and home are often weak, with traditional hotels or serviced apartments often functional, lonely and dull.

“A fundamental aspect of Zoku’s proposition is providing global nomads with a local social life,” he adds.

According to the template for the new hotel, public areas offer a warm welcome, a bar, a living room, a kitchen, co-working spaces and tailor-made retail well-stocked to cater to all users’ practical needs, additional back-up from on-site staff called “sidekicks” and even a local events program.

Meanwhile private areas–the lofts, each with a 25-square-meter floor space–have been designed for hybrid, compact living. Each Zoku Loft is designed around a four-person table, with a fully-equipped kitchen, alcove desk with office supplies, extensive storage and screen-able sleeping space reversing the bed-centric focus of traditional hotel rooms.

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Furthermore, each loft is customizable, with users even able to select their own art from a lending gallery to make their own space more personal for the duration of their stay.

Zoku is the latest in a series of concepts intended to re-think the traditional hotel, with an emphasis on younger worker/travelers (Marriott is just one of the chains that’s launched millennial-focused spinoff brands).

International hotel chain citizenM, also founded by Meyer, is all about “affordable luxury,” with each site offering public space featuring a “living room” furnished with works of art and iconic furniture while the environment in guest’s rooms is controllable via a “mood pad.”

Meyer and Jongerius are also co-partners in HotelsAhead, which develops new hotel concepts with direct input from prospective guests.

The pair developed the Zoku Loft, concept with futures consultancy The Future Laboratory which has been exploring what’s next for the hospitality sector by tapping into, among other things, two key trends: the new attitude of a generation of younger, international business travelers and the rapid growth of shared workspaces.

Interior design for Zoku was by Amsterdam-based interiors and architecture agency Concrete. The business’s branding and Zoku Loft brand film were created by creative agency WE ARE Pi, also in Amsterdam.

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“The merging of business and leisure has changed personal and professional lifestyles. Boundaries between work and leisure are fading, and blurring borders have made people more mobile than ever,” Meyer says. “Zoku Lofts offer an efficient work space without losing the comfortable flexible vibe of home, while the Zoku community will provide social structure.”

The first Zoku Lofts, in Amsterdam, will open with 133 lofts this autumn. The company’s plan is to then open further sites across major European cities and then worldwide, each with between 100 and 200 lofts at each site.

About the author

Meg Carter is a UK-based freelance journalist who has written widely on all aspects of branding, media, marketing & creativity for a wide range of outlets including The Independent, Financial Times and Guardian newspapers, New Media Age and Wired.

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