Speaking directly to the sophisticated traveller who understands and appreciates art, the BAR Studio-designed Ritz Carlton in Melbourne has crossed from corporate to luxury with a layer of art that is far from superficial.
April 17th, 2023
Rowena Hockin, curatorial director of BAR Studio, is clear on priorities: “Art is always one of the key elements that we position within our designs to convey a sense of place.”
Literally opening the project is a commissioned piece from Mutti Mutti, Yorta Yorta, Boonurrung, Wemba Wemba artist Maree Clarke comprising a welcome necklace cast in bronze as a new interpretation of traditional entry door handles. “Melbourne is definitely an art city and in designing The Ritz-Carlton, we’ve had an incredible opportunity, working with the curatorial team of Chapman and Bailey, to commission a great cross section of the city’s artists to bring their unique stories of place and identity to the project,” says Hockin.
Continuing the arrival experience are pieces by Reko Rennie and Christian Thompson AO, creating a strong collection by First Nations artists. Public spaces feature striking installations by Geoff Nees, whose work crosses art and architecture, plus work by Melbourne artists Jon Cattapan and Ash Keating.
Located on the corner of Spencer and Lonsdale Streets in Melbourne, the hotel occupies the top 17 floors, plus three lower floors, of the 80 storey West Side Place, making it Australia’s tallest hotel to date. Comprising 257 suites, a bar, restaurant, day spa, function rooms, 600-seat ballroom and a magnificent sky lobby, The Ritz-Carlton has truly embraced its verticality. That said, the hotel is not out of place within the city discourse. Rather, BAR Studio has interwoven ideas of culture and place throughout the project.
“Melbourne’s laneways build a real, diverse and intimate connection with the city. It is this ‘feeling’ that is uniquely Melbourne to me. And it is this interplay, this sense of discovery, of unexpected, special moments and experiences that is central to the design of The Ritz-Carlton, Melbourne,” says Stewart Robertson, co-founder and creative director of BAR Studio.
These layers aside, the hotel is sensational with all the grand gestures of a statement hotel. The ground floor foyer, for example, is glittery and golden with a grand central staircase and spectacular chandelier. The custom Chandelier by LASVIT is exceptional and a continuation of the work we are seeing from this exceedingly fine Czech company in hotels around the world. Floors and columns in silver shadow marble create a frame for herringbone timber floors, rugs designed alongside Godfrey Hirst and fluted glass walls.
Related: Elenberg Fraser’s undulating Melbourne Towers
The lounge on level 80 continues this high level of opulent materiality, but in a keyed down mode with Calacatta marble mosaic floors and an Amadora marble reception counter. Again, the lighting is exceptional with Phasmida pendant lights from Christopher Boots breaking the vertical rhythms of the reception columns to a perfect human scale. A large central chandelier by The Flaming Beacon (also responsible for the feature custom lighting in the guest rooms) holds the space well. Long horizontal pendants by Rakumba over the Cameo bar tables likewise hold the space without interfering with the view.
There is something extraordinarily celebratory about the opening of a new hotel with room for a 600 person extravaganza. The polish is there, the arrival is grand, the view is to die for and Melbourne is getting ready to party.
Peter Bennetts and courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
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