From the pages of Prattfolio, introducing a new section highlighting the problem-solving process in the real world, from the perspective of alumni in the field. In the Fall/Winter 2017 issue, Matthew Goodrich, MS Interior Design ’02, founder and principal of Goodrich, shared an experience from designing in the luxury hotel space.

When Matthew Goodrich was chief creative officer of interdisciplinary design firm AvroKO, he led the design process for a number of hospitality and retail projects, guided by a fascination with history, cultural movements, and social experience. For the now one-year-old Arlo Hotel in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood, Goodrich drew from the annals of creative community–building to tackle the problem of how to create a comforting environment for travelers when space is at a premium.

The challenge:
To design luxury hotel interiors with the constraint of micro–guest rooms (about 160 sq. feet).

The inspiration:
Visionary communities and artist colonies such as the MacDowell Colony and Black Mountain College, with their emphasis on quiet independent retreat balanced with communal living, and the value placed on the individual’s role in shaping the experience.

“A photo of a desk in a student-built dormitory at Black Mountain inspired the reductive simplicity of our guest rooms. Architect-educator Lawrence Kocher designed simple furniture (such as the table and stool pictured above) that could be made by the students, and these pieces informed the vocabulary of our built-in furnishings.”

The tricky detail:
“Our initial idea was to place the bed tight to the window, creating a deep window seat and maximum clear floor space. We believed this unusual bed arrangement would turn a negative (‘the room is small’) into a positive (‘I’ve never seen this before’) and become iconic for the brand. The ownership team was concerned this might create an awkward situation when the room was shared, with the person sleeping closest to the window having to crawl over their bedmate to get up. To address this, we created a custom king mattress size that is roughly square, allowing guests to sleep in any direction, depending on what suits them.”

The solution:
While guest rooms are small, they are high touch—redefining luxury. “The rooms take on the character of each guest when they unpack.” Along with the adaptable bed, modular elements such as fold-down desks and peg walls create a personalized feel in each room. Clean lines and warm tones and textures provide a basis for making a room one’s own.

Meanwhile, guests are encouraged to spend time outside their rooms and commune with fellow guests and locals in the hotel’s generous public spaces, a reversal of the typical dynamic that ties in with the artist colony–inspired concept.

The wisdom:
“Find the Deep Story that engages the imagination. With this project, drawing inspiration from thriving artistic communities and studying the ways they have fostered connection and interaction allowed us to take an innovative business model and transform it into a more resonant human experience.”

Watch Matthew Goodrich deliver the 2017 Anna and Joseph Syrop Annual Lecture at     

Images courtesy of AvroKO; photographs by Eric Laignel.

This article was originally published in Prattfolio (Fall/Winter 2017). Read the issue at