The Four Seasons R&D Studio is a laboratory for the science of luxury

Experiments in extravagance

In Alice Through The Looking Glass, the Red Queen tells Alice that in her bizarre world, you have to run as fast as you can to stay in the same place. Co-opted by evolution theory to explain adaptation and extinction, it also has business implications. In a widely competitive world, a company has to keep forging ahead and innovating, because resting on your laurels will only see rivals overtake you. It is in that spirit that Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts unveiled the Four Seasons Research and Discovery Studio at its headquarters in Toronto.

Described as a creative workspace, the R&D Studio is dedicated to getting things just right for the Four Seasons guest. They may not notice it, walking into the lobby, into their room, unpacking, showering, then sleeping, but even step of their movement will have been simulated and considered by the team at the R&D Studio in their question to perfect the effortless hospitality experience.

At the heart of the space is the Modular Room, where the Four Seasons team builds three-dimensional replicas of their rooms, with every sort of amenity and furniture – beds, closets, tables, doorways, chairs, lamps – built to scale to allow manipulation of space and testing of layouts. This is important in cases where the brand moves into an existing, or heritage, building where challenging existing borders exist. The R&D Studio allows Four Seasons to test out every permutation of layout, optimising it for the perfect experience.

Other areas at the studio cover different aspects of the Four Seasons lifestyle. In one corner, a fully functional bar to test coffee and cocktails. In the other, an atelier to focus on employee wardrobe. On the left, a table-top staging area to experiment with glassware, tableware and cutlery. On the right, a sweet-smelling area where the scents and aesthetics of bathroom amenities are tested out.

It is something that every luxury hotel brand will do, but with the Four Season R&D Studio, that process will now be centralised instead of being managed on a micro-scale in individual properties. This confers plenty of benefits, providing a venue to further refine the Four Seasons craft and an answer to the question ‘How do you do it?’ before it is even asked. Alice had to run as fast as she could to stay in one place; for Four Seasons, it has to work equally as hard to stay in pole position.

Four Seasons

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