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An Incubator For Ideas

Article by Ben Thomas in Sleeper magazine issue 106

To gain a better understanding of what it means to be an operator, DUX is using its very own hotel as a testing ground for new and existing products.

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Our Chairman had the vision to buy and operate a hotel for two reasons,” says Kevin Slade, Head of Next Gen at Swedish bed and furniture maker DUX, as Sleeper checks in to The DUXIANA in Malmö. “Firstly, so we could understand what it means to be a hotelier and secondly for brand awareness; this is a real-life environment where designers, specifiers and consumers can come to experience our products first-hand.”

Having first refurbished the property upon purchasing it 14 years ago, DUX decided it was time for another revamp in 2021, and so set about upgrading the facilities. The lobby, bar, lounge and restaurant on the ground floor were redesigned as individually defined spaces for both guests and Malmö residents, while private areas for dining, meetings and functions were introduced throughout the building. Then came the guestrooms, where DUX’s bed collection takes centre stage whilst being complemented by its furniture. While all rooms were updated with different solutions for different guest requirements, the pièce de résistance is the full rebuild of two suites on the top floor, as well as a further room that offers a DUX bed for the guest and a mini version for their four-legged companion. The ultimate aim, in the words of Slade, was to create an “innovative testing ground” for its new products.

After experiencing the company’s beds and furniture in a hospitality setting, guests and visitors can visit the DUXIANA showroom next door – a three-storey townhouse that was renovated in 2018 and today serves as a natural extension of the hotel, providing a space where the brand can retail from but also meet to discuss collaborations with industry partners. “We begin by asking about a hotel’s values and types of guests,” Slade reveals. “From here, we look to understand their needs so we can suggest solutions. Only then comes the commercial element, which is typically where most brands start. We like to turn the process on its head; from our experience, this enables us to build a more long-lasting relationship.”

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Such has been the case for hotel projects like Pater Noster in its native Sweden, where DUX worked closely with Erik Nissen Johansen of Gothenburg-based design studio Stylt, as well as The Audo in Copenhagen, where it partnered with Danish art director Bjarne Hansen. Further afield, the brand’s mattresses grace the guestrooms at Aman Kyoto, winner of AHEAD Asia Hotel of the Year 2021. Here, the beds – described as ‘vehicles for wellbeing’ by the manufacturer – feed into the property’s zen ethos, with guestrooms blending into the surrounding forest to create a calm and quiet atmosphere warmed by the use of timber.

The same philosophy was applied to the newly opened Runo Hotel Porvoo in Finland, for which DUX created a customised bed that harmonises with its rustic yet modern style. And so too at Hotel Villa Carona in the mountains above Lake Lugano on the border of Italy and Switzerland, where the bedmaker is currently installing products from its new hospitality collection, which incorporates each of its innovations, starting with Pascal – a system of adjustable comfort zones that are spread across the shoulders, hips and legs.

Across all of these projects, DUX has placed a clear focus on sustainability, not only in the selection of materials and build practices, but also in the longevity of the finished product. “We are seeing more desire for sustainable products that stand the test of time and therefore offer better value for money,” explains Slade, citing the launch of the hospitality collection as a response to this demand.

With that in mind, the mattresses – from the classic H1 to the frameless HF3 – achieve Oeko Tex 100 certification, meaning they meet human-ecological requirements by being free of toxins and other harmful substances. They have also been engineered in a way that allows each component to be swapped or upgraded, meaning that if a layer gets damaged, hoteliers do not have to replace the entire product.

As DUX continues to evolve its product offering, so too will the company evolve the experience at The DUXIANA, using the hotel as an incubator for new ideas. “The near future will see us further the room refurbishment programme and fine tune the F&B side of the business,” Slade concludes. “Who knows, maybe soon there will be new locations to unveil!”

See the whole Sleeper Magazine issue 106 here.