Nic Graham has recently completed his eleventh QT Hotel design, this time in Newcastle, and the resulting interior design is fresh, vibrant and as consummate as ever.
September 16th, 2022
Nic Graham, Principal of his eponymous design studio, is the thinking man and woman’s hospitality designer and it shows – especially in this latest offering, QT Newcastle, for the hospitality provider Amalgamated Holdings Ltd.
Understanding just what makes a great hotel design is something Nic Graham knows about. Since 1998 when he established Nic Graham & Associates in Sydney, he has honed his craft, consistently presenting refined design for clients and style and comfort for travellers.
Graham’s work redefines the idea of hospitality through an inventive and original style and he continues to work with the world’s best hospitality companies such as W Hotels, Ritz Carlton, Atura, Indigo and many more in Australia and around the region. However, it is his latest project, the QT Newcastle, that certainly catches the eye and adds another fabulous completed project to the burgeoning list.
With a design renaissance occurring in Newcastle, there are master plans and major architecture projects completed and under construction that are helping to invigorate the prominent regional city. Add to this, the allure of a QT Hotel and it’s the place to be right now.
QT Newcastle has been designed with a narrative in mind, and in this case, it is the moon that figures large as the interior motif. “The moon has all sorts of meanings, but there are some very mythical and wonderful stories behind it, whether it’s female or male, and then the idea of renewal and the process of renewal, the shape of the moon and the light and the romanticism,” says Graham.
As a heritage building and a former David Jones store, the new hotel is an adaptive re-use project with heritage overlay. This is regeneration at its best but also presents challenges. Retaining the old and making it new again is not for the faint-hearted designer, and Graham and his team have included the best of the original features, renewing structure and materials and incorporating them into a grand new interior vision.
There is colour and movement, texture and reflection, and the project as a whole becomes the ideal destination for locals and visitors to meet, drink, eat and, of course, stay.
Each QT is site-specific with a local flavour, but perhaps if there is a thread within all the iterations for the brand, it is the use of colour and texture. In Newcastle, strong and vibrant colours are everywhere – in custom-made carpets, on soft furnishings and in an astounding amount of artwork.
The lobby provides the first glimpse of the experiential with an impressive gold leaf painted circular void and mirrored halfmoon overhead a furniture grouping. This vignette defines the QT Newcastle and creates expectations for what is to come.
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Aside the lobby are two check-in terminals, a reception desk, Scott’s café, and the Jana Bar, where guests have the opportunity to either grab a coffee or a glass of wine while they register. High-top seating and tables are the furnishings of choice with some low seating.
Further along is Jana Restaurant with a more intimate area and large table that can be curtained off for private dining. This special area is then surrounded by low tables and chairs and fine modern artwork has been hung on the walls to make this a singular destination.
Graham says, “Nowadays, we find that we’re doing a lot more high-top and communal seating as opposed to low seating. It feels nice to have people working at high-tops, drinking, eating, playing, and then that transcends into the restaurant where there is a large communal table with a beautiful piece of artwork that’s high-top and then you go into the low seating around the corner.”
Over the hotel’s 12 levels and 104 guest rooms, there is great attention to facility and spatial design. The moon-shape motif is everywhere – in colourful rugs, custom mirrors, bedheads and furniture, and the curve is present in arched windows and edging on cabinetry. Diaphanous curtaining adds softness and colour blocks on feature walls, along with dark and dramatic bathrooms, make these rooms places you don’t want to leave.
The pièce de resistance is the QT Rooftop, a bar with an expansive installation of pendant lights that resemble planets floating in the Milky Way, made by a local craftsman. Not only is this rooftop bar a wonderful indoor/outdoor space but it also provides outstanding views of Newcastle Harbour and the city surrounds.
In the design of the QT Newcastle, it is the details that contribute to the richness of the interior design. For example, the divine custom carpets in the corridors that make this ubiquitous area a journey of discovery, not just a walkway to a room: And the quarry brick floor, a reminder of the alleyways that once existed around the property: Or the bespoke art collection, curated by Sophie Vander from gallery Curatorial+Co, that covers walls and adds beauty and an air of sophistication.
Each QT designed by Graham is a revelation in creativity and an idea translated into a tangible guest experience. Asked how he imagines new designs for each hotel Graham comments, “All I can say is that you’re blessed and cursed as a designer, never to really close your eyes or close your mind to things. It’s living and exploring that colours the imagination.”
He continues, “What we do with essentially a blank palette, blank piece of paper is the best part of any project. As a designer when you’re faced with a blank canvas, it’s up to you to create something out of nothing.”
QT Newcastle is indeed something and if occupancy is any guide, then best book well ahead to secure a room. The QT Newcastle is a stellar addition to the city’s hospitality scene and the QT brand and the latest in a very long line of outstanding projects designed by Nic Graham & Associates.
Nic Graham & Associates
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