design worldwide partnership

How to design a lab of creation

dwp designed the W Hotel’s first opening in Dubai on the Palm Jumeirah, W Dubai – The Palm.

The alliance between boundary pushing global design studio, dwp and hospitality disruptors, W Hotels was a rockstar marriage made in heaven.  

For the W Dubai – The Palm, dwp looked to the iconic features of the Middle East for inspiration. Scott Whittaker, dwp’s Group Creative Director, says: “We took the unique attributes of the Arabic culture, as well as the location at The Palm, and melded them into a W experience. The exciting challenge and opportunity with this project was to create that quintessential W hotel feeling of rebellious, distinctive luxury; while drawing from Middle Eastern culture. To offer the unique sensual experiences of the location while maintaining that special sense of ‘W’.”

Scott says. “dwp have created distinctive hospitality projects in Dubai For 10 years – so we understand the local market – and communicate those design elements very well. With our global studios we are also able to bring international design trends to the party. This fits very well with W hotels identity as a global brand.”

So what are W’s consistent branding elements and how did dwp meet them?

Scott explains the project with W Dubai – The Palm was a fun-filled journey. W Hotels are ‘labs of creation’ and the design is all about taking risks and breaking boundaries. W is fun. Wherever you are in the hotel, it should be ‘wow’. Young, friendly, dynamic, 24 hours. So that it doesn’t feel like you are in a normal hotel. The interaction is different. The whole experience of being in a W should be enjoyable.

The first design feature to wow guests of W Dubai – The Palm; is a spectacular sense of arrival. A perforated golden cocoon, lined with date-palm fronds, and multicolored rainbow ceramics welcomes guests into what promises to be a thoroughly modern Middle Eastern experience.

Entering the atrium lobby we see references to Arabic architecture. Thick mud walls and minimalist openings keep out the heat and elements. A breathtaking cubic chandelier punctuates the space offering reflections of the desert sun. Artisan carpets soften stone floors and allude to the rugged geography of the Gulf coastline. The design concept is transformation by light. When you come into the lobby in the day or at night, it’s a completely different experience.

The bar continues the cubic theme, melting to gold. The centerpiece of the bar, unique to the W Dubai, is a modern fireplace that reflects the traditional nomadic lifestyle of the desert.

Wireless technology was also a key part of the design. From mood changing lighting to building controls; (invisible) technology was a key to the success of the project. The W’s mobile app controls everything from the phones to check in and out, air conditioning in-room entertainment lighting and as room keys.

The food and beverage concept is all day dining flow. A series of rooms and spaces that curve and connect. The inspiration is drawn from the henna tattoos of the region. Scott says: “My favorite feature is the signature wall of two tone veneers that changes color depending on the way you view it. When you look at it in one direction, it’s purple, and then you look at another direction, it’s green. But it’s wood. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

dwp designed the large Wow Suites with a colored mosaic wall running the length of room. The bathrooms are open and every room has an amazing view out over the Gulf and also over the city of Dubai. Full-length windows lead onto a balcony. Everybody’s favourite feature is the dining table that is also a catwalk. It’s a bit naughty and playful everyone wants to try.  

Behind the scenes, the back of house operations are truly massive and underground. Guests cannot notice what is happening in the background. It is completely invisible. The hotel is actually bigger underground. The carpark and the back of house is huge.There are portal in the roof that allow islands of natural light to flow on to the staff working in the basement.

The sustainability choices are subtle. But the inbuilt design controls and material choices are extremely effective. The whole façade has balconies to shade windows, there’s sustainable glass on the windows. Everything is seamless.

‘W is WOW so they want every space to be unique’. Everywhere is a selfie-spot. Everywhere is sprinkled with stardust. For more information, please contact Justin Wells at justin.w@dwp.com or take a tour of the new W Dubai.

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