The Still Room concept developed by Antwerp-based Studio Corkinho imagines a type of room where people go specifically to enjoy the benefits of silence.
Etienne believes hospitality brands can use these rooms to offer a new type of well-being experience to their guests, while employers could use them to provide a greater level of care to their staff.
“A still room offers a place to do just nothing,” he said, “a space where you can welcome silence or just the luxury of not being distracted.”
Etienne – who co-founded Studio Corkinho with creative director Klas Dalquist – made the comments at The Lobby, a hospitality design conference held in Copenhagen in August.
The interior designer was there to present Studio Corkinho’s pilot still room, created in 2020 when the designers converted a room in the former Noorderpershuis power station in Antwerp into a space for meditative contemplation.
The room hosts individual visits, but also yoga practice, tea ceremonies and study groups from the University of Antwerp.
“We’ve developed a movement towards silence in our city,” Etienne said.
Studio Corkinho has since been consulting with hotel brands on how to create still rooms for hospitality.
Etienne said still rooms could become a typical amenity in luxury hotels and resorts, just as you might find a gym or a library. These rooms could host yoga, meditation and other well-being activities, he suggests.
“A still mind is actually more important today than ever before,” he said.
“There’s a huge opportunity for the hospitality experience to redefine how we care about guests and how we offer them something more valuable than just a brand experience.”
Studio Corkinho has developed a library of still-room design templates, along with a palette of appropriate materials and textures. It also advises brands on how to integrate a sense of ritual into the guest experience.
“It’s not just thinking about the design and the aesthetics, but also how to activate the space,” said Etienne.
“We’re trying to create awareness about the opportunities there are for hospitality,” he continued. “We could create a network of these kinds of still places.”
Speaking to Dezeen after the conference, Etienne said that the studio had received positive feedback from hospitality clients and was now being approached by employers looking to improve well-being in the office.
He suggested that meeting rooms could be transformed into still rooms, to give employees a space where they can take time out from their work and recharge their batteries.
“Considering the overload of distraction, still rooms help employees to step away from distraction and travel inward in order to perform better in their daily work challenges,” he said.
“From the employer’s side, this shows a positive message to their teams, to generate a more stable work-life balance. Improving productivity at work means more happiness and more time out of the office.”
The concept draws on Etienne’s own experiences of visiting Buddhist monasteries and traditional teahouses in Japan, and the impact these experiences had on his personal well-being.
He believes these experiences are increasingly important in a world where digital devices and social media create a constant stream of information.
“The core aspect of the still room is to learn how to shut out the world, in order to connect on a deeper level with ourselves, a project or an experience,” he added.
The photography is by Piet Albert Goethals. Visualisations are by Studio Corkinho.