Local stories inform design narratives for W Hotels

Studio Ongarato’s relationship with the W Hotel brand started in 2010 when the studio was engaged to imagine the design for the W Hong Kong in 2010, in collaboration with interior designers, Nic Graham and Glamorous, Tokyo.

A pioneering approach saw the integration of a narrative-led design for the project. Whilst it was unconventional at the time, it has been coded into the W Hotels’ brand DNA.

Evoking images of ‘Nature’ and ‘Enchantment’, the defined site narrative was bought to life through art and design that sympathetically enriched the interiors and architecture, elevating the guest experience.

The 18-month design project spanned environmental graphics and installations, as well as the curation of a contemporary art collection.

It successfully injected greater vibrancy into the brand and rewrote the rulebook for narrative-led hotel design.

The long term relationship continues with the W Hotels Group, having successfully contributed to the launch of the W Shanghai in July 2017 and the W Brisbane in June 2018.

A hanging red and white neon installation in the atrium of W Shanghai

For the W Shanghai the theme of “Captivating Contrasts,” provided the foundation and was expressed through environmental design graphics, styling, custom interior installations and art consultancy throughout the hotel. The theme reflects the Shanghainese polarities of Hai Pai – the art of combining the old and the new, the east and the west. The atrium, inspired by Shanghai’s traditional, laundry-filled laneways, portrayed as a four-storey high, neon installation is one such example.

The launch of the W Brisbane saw the W Hotel brand welcomed back to Australia. The overarching theme, A River Dreaming, developed by Nic Graham and Associates pays respect to the Turrbal people who see the river as the giver of life.

Drawing on brand DNA, site context and the overarching theme, Studio Ongarato developed four sub-narratives: Native Allure, Tropical Eden, Brisvegas and Dark Paradise. The resulting interplay of ideas creates a tribal meets pop hybrid personality that electrifies in its many incarnations.

Studio Ongarato’s engagement with the recent W projects strengthens the design studio’s relationship with a truly international brand, showcasing its ability to interpret myriad social and cultural contexts as design outcomes, imbuing the W brand with a sense of place and personality.

Read more about the narrative behind the W Brisbane here