Retro zen: Motel 6 is the Apple of roadtel design

Today we’re celebrating design in the unlikeliest of places. Cheap highway hotels. Roadtels I call them.
In my art treks I’ve come to know them well. When you’re staying in one location long enough to savor the locale, well, you don’t stay in these. As when I was in Santa Fe last week.
Or was it half a decade ago. Road time is very now. Whatever isn’t happening now feels like time before time. The day before yesterday? Could as easily have been last year. It’s that distant to me. Cuz I’m in the now, grasshopper.
When I was in Santa Fe I was in a Hilton by the Plaza. The better to walk the town center each day, the better to hike Canyon Road and peruse the galleries.
On the road it’s roadtels. Why waste money when in and out and some sleep in between is your only intent. 
Today we’re celebrating Motel 6. Do you remember that decade not long ago when Apple surprised you every year or two with something startlingly fresh?
Motel 6 has done that for me.
Take a look at that photo above. It’s 60s chic and Zen spare. Everything is pared to simplicity. Uncluttered is good! Yet there is vibrancy here  in the color contrasts. In the design.  
That’s what great design does for you. It makes the functional even more useful. It also makes it enjoyable in its own right.
Take a look at that top photo again. Do you see the rolled-up yoga mat standing vertically next to the mirror. Squint if you must. Or with a flick of two fingers, enlarge the damn screen.
That’s mine. I do yoga on the road.
Now look at this second photo. That’s the same room from the opposite vantage point.
You can’t tell it because of the foreshortening inherent to our visual perception . . . but there is much more space on the far side of the bed than there is between the bed and the wall with the mounted TV on it.
You know what that means for one such as I? Plenty of yoga mat space.
Did you notice something else? There’s no rug!
Why the hell do hotels insist on rugs? Even in Santa Fe in a luxury hotel I was skeeved by the idea of the carpet.
Carpets are ideal for life forms. What traveler wants life forms at their feet when they’re popping up and heading to the bathroom? Life forms spawned from generations of previous guests?
You know people  most people are grosser than you. Because they’re not you.
A hard floor of any type is far superior to a carpet when you have a gamut of strangers filing through.
Inspired hotel design needs to account for the occasional ribald guest, the guest who takes things too far. Whether it be addiction or sex or lack of personal hygiene, those guests abound.
How do I know? Because I see them all over the place in real life, just as you do.
That means a fair percentage of them trod your roadtel room before you did.
Inspired hotel design also needs to account for the more than occasional slovenly cleaning crew.
Hard floors handle this on both accounts. With a hard floor, whatever guests who inhabit the room to excess deposit can easily be cleaned by even the most disinterested cleaning person.
Motel 6 all the other hotels will be following your lead in years to come. Thank you for this hygienic innovation.
Look what they’ve done here. Motel 6 has created an intimate nook and work desk. See the top photo for the full effect.
They’ve taken two elements found in every hotel room the comfortable chair and the work desk  and mated them. It’s a cozy configuration that works.
When I’m in relaxed mode, I hang in the corner bench seat. When I need to pound out some work, the chair is a better perch.
The peninsula table between them is wide enough for two, and yet the curved end makes it graceful. Less hostile even, there will be no bruised hips navigating around it. 

See this badly photographed bathroom shot? Look at that elegant simplicity! The light running down the left hand side. Genius. The rounded holes  for toilet paper! For bath towels and hand towels!
See how the staff have rolled the larger towels? Delightful. You feel delighted and amused when you first glance in. 
Let’s finish with this raised bowl sink. The rounded edges consistent with every other softly contoured corner in the room.
(Note the mirror above the desk nook, as well as the TV mount. And for good measure note the bedside table. Not shown is a wall mounted ledge table on the same wall as the TV, with a clever ledge shelf above it, from which two circular prongs extend  with hangers to hang your clothing. All with the same curved cornering.)
What do you feel in this optimally-priced roadtel space? Charmed. Liberated. Entertained even.
The team that designed the new Motel 6 experience deserves awards of a transcendent order. They’ve taken the humdrum and opened it up into a new experience. While making it more sanitary! And cheap!
This is why design matters. Why stripping away the inessential matters. And why playfulness matters.
This is the world we all want to live in. A thoughtful, electric world, made exciting because someone  some group of people  took the time to reinterpret a common experience and hence make magic for the rest of us.

For you —

Evan Griffith
What creators do

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