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The art and design of hospitality at The Ritz-Carlton, Melbourne

Art, design, architecture and hospitality all combine perfectly at The Ritz-Carlton, Melbourne by BAR Studio and Cottee Parker.

The art and design of hospitality at The Ritz-Carlton, Melbourne

Lobby, ground floor, Dr Chrstian Thompson.

The Ritz-Carlton, Melbourne is all that you would expect from this exclusive brand but so much more. It has been designed with detail and finesse, and the interior becomes a gallery that showcases exceptional art by local artists that make this hotel a standout.

During the Melbourne Art Fair, there was a chance to tour The Ritz-Carlton, view the stellar art collection and enjoy a beautiful lunch at Atria, high in the sky on the 80th floor. The event, titled Mind of the Artist, was held in conjunction with, and to celebrate, the new partnership with the Melbourne Art Fair held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre on the 22nd to the 25th February 2024. However, what made this occasion even more special was the opportunity to talk to the interior designers, BAR Studio, to meet several of the artists whose work has been included within the interior and to explore the thinking behind the art and design.

The hotel is designed by Cottee Parker with interiors by BAR Studio and is pared-back and elegant. There is no fuss or elaborate decoration, simply an expertly conceived spatial design coupled with authentic materials and a minimal, soothing colour palette that results in a refined aesthetic.

While the white, grey and black material and colour palettes have been combined in pattern and solids, hard and soft textures, everything perfectly aligns and amplifies the Ritz-Carlton brand. However, the feeling of Melbourne has been incorporated into the design as Rowena Hockin, Curatorial Director BAR Studio, notes: “We wanted to convey Melbourne’s unique identity in our design. The Ritz-Carlton, Melbourne pays tribute to the city’s rich, layered culture and history – incorporating influences from diverse sources such as its Indigenous heritage, Victorian-era gold rush, European culture, and intriguing laneways. Melbourne is a city of wonderful contradictions: at once raw and refined, classical and edgy, and we hope we brought that spirit through the design, materiality, crafted elements and art.”

Related: Melbourne Art Fair 2024

Reception, level 80, Jon Cattapan.

As Hockin alludes, art was integral to the interior design and working closely with BAR Studio was Mark Chapman, founder of fine art services company Chapman & Bailey, who helped bring together the many artists who have contributed to the vision of the interior.

Major artists were commissioned to design works for particular locations, such as a large wall near and another aside the elevators, the lobby, within the lifts, in waiting areas, at the entry to the ballroom and even the ballroom ceiling was a bespoke commission.

Lobby, ground floor, Djirrra Wunumurra.

The hotel collection comprises a staggering 1000 art pieces from 40 different artists. All paintings, sculpture and objects were commissioned save two, works by Roger Kemp and Dr Christian Thompson AO, and the artists on display include Ash Keating, Sally Smart, Reko Rennie, Djirrirra Wununmurra, Maree Clark, Fabrice Bigot, Geoff Nees, Robert Scholten, Jon Cattapan, Lara Merrett, Corinna Berndt and Mira Gojak. 

By curating outstanding art works from the many talented local and First Nation artists, The Ritz-Carlton Melbourne presents visitors with its own style and connection to place that sets it apart from other hotels in its portfolio.

Hockin comments: “We always wanted art to be central to the design narrative of The Ritz-Carlton, Melbourne because of Melbourne’s prolific art scene. We are so fortunate to have incredible talent in this city, which gave us an opportunity to bring a strong group of celebrated artists into the project. Incorporating their work into the design of the hotel was an absolute privilege. In our designs we often frame our spaces to highlight elements that are specific to place, so to be able to see the design serving to draw attention to these pieces is wonderful.

“And now, it’s particularly rewarding to see meaningful connections being made between the hotel’s design and the city’s cultural programming – like The Ritz-Carlton’s, Melbourne partnership with the recent Melbourne Art Fair. The hotel feels like a natural platform for guests to start their artistic explorations!”

Ground floor, Reko Rennie.

While The Ritz-Carlton, Melbourne is awe inspiring through its design and art, the hotel with reception on the 80th floor and 257 rooms is certainly distinct from other properties in the city. The views of Melbourne and beyond are breathtaking and the connection to the landscape inspirational.

With such a brand as The Ritz-Carlton, it would have been the easy option to build and design using a tried-and-true template; however, by embedding this hotel in its location, celebrating the local art and artists and providing a place that epitomises the Melbourne aesthetic, The Ritz-Carlton, Melbourne has created something memorable for guests and all who visit.

Rachael Harman, hotel General Manager says, “Melbourne is a creative city and soon as you step into The Ritz-Carlton, Melbourne, you are immersed in a world of art and design. We are immensely proud of the art and the artists that enrich our guest experience and speak to the local cultural landscape. We can’t think of a better way to celebrate our love of art than with our partnership with the Melbourne Art Fair, a progressive forum for the art and ideas of today.”

BAR Studio

Cottee Parker

The Ritz-Carlton, Melbourne

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