Case study: W Dubai reflects the city’s social rhythm

Marina Mrdjen-Petrovic visits the newly opened W Dubai in Al Habtoor City, designed by Singapore-based firm Silverfox Studios.

W Hotels is known as a design-led lifestyle brand, and the interiors of each of its 46 hotels reflect the destination where the property is located while maintaining the brand’s cosmopolitan edge. Being adjacent to the Dubai’s Sheikh Zayed Road, one of the busiest roads in the world, the design of the recently opened W Dubai in Al Habtoor City expectedly brings to life the city’s constant buzz and flow of movement.

Led by Singapore-based design firm Silverfox Studios, W Dubai’s 365 rooms and suites boast a bold and contemporary design, featuring an eye-catching colour scheme and linear patterns.

The initial brief regarding the design was given by the W Hotel’s team in New York where the first W Hotel opened its doors and was an instant success.

Patrick Waring, partner at Silverfox Studios, tells Commercial Interior Design about the inspiration and the concept development process, which had to merge contemporary design with local influences.

“Each W hotel has its personality that is brought to life by collaborators who are always on the cusp of what’s new and next in design, music and fashion and elements that mingle to create a welcoming and social gathering place,” says Waring. “From the moment of arrival, guests are invited into surprising, sensory environments where amplified entertainment, vibrant lounges, modern guestrooms, innovative cocktails and contemporary cuisine offer more than just a hotel experience, but a luxury lifestyle destination.”

Each W Hotel offers signature food and beverage areas that attract not only hotel guests but local tastemakers and residents as well.

“W Dubai – Al Habtoor City is conceived as the nexus,” explains Waring. “Rising out of the desert, the modern metropolis of Dubai appears to have at its epicentre an energy source plugging into the city grid. The hotel, W Dubai has a “Sky” living room location.

On the hotel exterior and at Wheels, the welcome area on the ground floor, linear lighting and patterns resemble the rays of light from busy night-time traffic around the city.

Perched on top of the 30th floor, this is known as W Lounge and represents W Hotels’ reinterpretation of the traditional hotel lobby. Here a multitude of lounge and entertainment areas are set within a multi-tiered floor space. W Lounge is the driving force behind the hotel’s design direction.

“The concept of nexus as a social space is, therefore, critical, and we’ve made W Lounge the main place where the narrative of the design concept comes together,” says Waring. “W Lounge follows an open-plan design; it is where the check-in desks, lobby lounge and bar area merge together. This spatial arrangement has been explored to maximise the potential for W Lounge as the most important and dynamic area within the building. The open plan design generates a natural flow of energy through W Lounge to encourage socialising, providing the ultimate venue for Dubai’s residents and visitors to mix and mingle. It is another nod towards the constant flow to promote social interaction. The plan is that W Lounge will generate a social energy that appeals to trendsetters and seekers looking to be seen and heard.”

All 356 rooms and suites of W Dubai feature interesting linear patterns across the walls and floors, representing how the city of Dubai has a strong social rhythm. In the rooms, future-forward technology and custom furnishings double as abstract art to complement the vivid colour palette against the sleek lines of the minimalist guestrooms.

“Adding to the bright and fresh mood, the open concept bathroom-to-bedroom creates a fluid flow throughout, while floor-to-ceiling windows frame views of the city and sea. In the bathrooms, a modern, colourful wall design uses pink and red pixelation, in contrast with the minimalist white of the guestrooms, adding movement and energy to space while creating a graphic visual interest, which is fun for the guest and an almost party-like yet calming environment,” says the designer.

For both guest rooms and public areas, the design team had to find ways of creating a match between modern luxury and the vibrant elements that define the W brand.

Waring says: “The colourful connections are part of the physical context and the subconcept from nexus is motion. A literal connection from Dubai runs up the building in the glass party room (lift) to the W Lounge for the social experience. We explained this by using the materials which evoke time lapse illuminating headlamp images from Sheikh Zayed Road, resulting in colour-changing lift-cab light-tracing technology, cutting-edge art installations, dazzling décor, interwoven art panels, freestanding fixtures and highly textured materials.”

Commenting on his favourite design feature, Waring says it is the connection from the bar in W Lounge that links to the reception area.

“The bar is the central hub,” he says “it’s the ‘brain’ or central point that connects the rest of the hotel. This also ties in with our design concept of the nexus. As we travel down the building we pass through the welcome area (Wheels) out into the streets or, from the other way, we arrive at Wheels (welcome area) to go up to W Lounge. Conceptually, these two areas are joined at the hip. However, the welcome space is less complex and shall take energy from the core at W Lounge and transmit this out and on to the streets of Dubai,” he says.

Creating a space that has architectural integrity is one of the key features of the Silverfox Studio’s design aesthetics.

“The influence on customers inside these areas is one that is unique to each property brief and design concept,” concludes Waring.

Peter Katusak-Huzsvar, W Dubai – Al Habtoor City general manager, expects that the W Dubai will reinforce Dubai’s reputation as a city of life, “bringing new and exciting opportunities from the world of fashion, music and design to global travellers and local trendsetters”.