Profiling Studio Ongarato's quirky and incredible W Brisbane interior designs

Profiling Studio Ongarato's quirky and incredible W Brisbane interior designs
Profiling Studio Ongarato's quirky and incredible W Brisbane interior designs

Brisbane’s largest integrated CBD development continues to take shape at 300 George Street.

Backed by Shayher Group and being built by Multiplex, the development consists of three towers containing residential apartments, commercial office space and what is now the first 5-star hotel to open in Queensland’s capital in more than 20 years. Overseen by parent company Marriott International, W Brisbane Hotel is open for business and includes 312 guest rooms.

The importance of the chic hotel brand's arrival in Brisbane was not lost on the development team. Along with project architects ZENX International and DBI Architects, Melbourne-based Studio Ongarato were enlisted to provide W Brisbane with a unique, and arguably quirky identity.

Having already worked on other W branded hotels such as W Shanghai, Studio Ongarato was already in the position of understanding and delivering on W’s unique brand of playful luxury.

Profiling Studio Ongarato's quirky and incredible W Brisbane interior designs
W Brisbane's reception area. Image: Justin Alexander

Co-founder Fabio Ongarato explains "Our first narrative-led hotel was for the W Hong Kong back in 2010. Using narrative at that time was uncommon. It successfully injected greater vibrancy into the brand and rewrote the rulebook for narrative-led hotel design.

It also successfully set the tone for all the W hotels since."

In this regard four Brisbane-inspired sub-narratives were created for W Brisbane by Studio Ongarato. The implementation of bold and immersive environmental design narratives is an emerging trend in the hotel and hospitality space, but taken to the enth degree within W Brisbane.

On the wider aspect of providing a story or direction for hotel guests, Ongarato says "It’s important for design to tell meaningful stories that customers, users and guests can respond to. Defining and building a thematic framework is the first step for holistic and narrative-driven design to take shape.

A brand foundation enhances a guest’s experience by encouraging them to become more aware and engaged with their environment. It offers a world within a world for experience hunters but ultimately it aims to engage, delight and transport.”

Profiling Studio Ongarato's quirky and incredible W Brisbane interior designs
Pool area backdrop. Image: Justin Alexander

Also playing a hand in W Brisbane's interior expression was Ronnen Goren, who alongside Ongarato has been at the forefront of the studio for the past 25 years. The long standing partnership with W Hotels flows from the ability to marry unique design outcomes with commercial objectives.

“Studio Ongarato’s engagement with W Brisbane strengthens the design studio’s relationship with a truly international brand, showcasing our ability to interpret myriad social and cultural contexts as design outcomes, imbuing the W brand with a sense of place and personality” says Goren. Guest rooms aside, areas that received the Studio Ongarato touch included communal zones such as the dining room, bar, pool, spa and yoga facility.

The main narrative within W Brisbane centres around A River Dreaming, a theme developed by Nic Graham and Associates. This is a nod to the indigenous Turrbal people which sees the (Brisbane) river as the giver of life.

Thereafter Studio Ongarato conceived four sub-narratives: Native Allure, Tropical Eden, Brisvegas and Dark Paradise. How they manifest themselves via W Brisbane's interiors is a subjective matter, but Studio Ongarato hope the interplay of ideas creates a "tribal meets pop hybrid personality that electrifies in its many incarnations."

Profiling Studio Ongarato's quirky and incredible W Brisbane interior designs
Typical bedroom design feature. Image: Justin Alexander

Fabio Ongarato says “For W Brisbane we looked at the W brand DNA, which is bold, witty and shows a lust for life. And we studied the context of the site – its physical, social and historical parameters.

We looked carefully at many aspects of the Brisbane identity to create our themes. Taking ownership of that originally derogative nickname Brisvegas, Brisbanites are celebrating their tongue-in-cheek persona. From giant fruit landmarks to slogans, slang, stubby shorts and caftans, we deeply absorbed the Queensland vernacular to create our design narratives.”

Whilst W Brisbane remains the nation's sole W branded outlet for now, construction continues on both new Sydney and Melbourne locations. Sydney's The Ribbon will host 402 hotel rooms upon its completion next year whilst Collins Arch will see 294 rooms under the W Melbourne banner.

Profiling Studio Ongarato's quirky and incredible W Brisbane interior designs
Common area hallway. Image: Justin Alexander

Mark Baljak

Mark Baljak

Mark Baljak was a co-founder of He passed away on Thursday 8th of November 2018 after a battle with cancer. He was 37. Mark was a keen traveller, having visited all six permanently-inhabited continents and had a love of craft beer. One of his biggest passions was observing the change that has occurred in Melbourne over the past two decades. In that time he built an enormous library of photos, all taken by him, which tracked the progress of construction on building sites from across metropolitan Melbourne.

W Brisbane Hotels Design Studio Ongarato Shayher Group Multiplex


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