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Indesign Magazine
Indesign Magazine

5 Mins With Fabio Ongarato

Fabio Ongarato Design uses design as a vehicle for creating holistic experiences that are held together through their own narratives. We get some insight about this process from Fabio himself.

  • Photo by Mark Roper.

  • Photo by Mark Roper.

  • Photo by Mark Roper.

  • Photo by Mark Roper.

  • Photo by Mark Roper.

  • The Jackalope sculpture by Emily Floyd makes a statement at the Jackalope Hotel (FOD worked with Carr on the project). Photo by Sharyn Cairns.

  • Photo by Sharyn Cairns.

You’ve probably encountered Fabio Ongarato’s work without even realising it. Fabio founded his studio – Fabio Ongarato Design (FOD) – fusing branding, identity and strategic design under one banner, and its work is in many high profile hospitality and hotel fit-outs.

The studio recently took out a bunch of accolades, including the Pinnacle Award for Best Studio at the AGDA awards. We ask the man himself about how he and his team approach a project and the importance of narrative.

How do you approach your projects?

With every project, we start from scratch with no preconceived ideas. Our aim is to create something unique for the client rather than just delivering a house style – a look, a voice, a language – something that they might not ever have imagined themselves but that is unmistakably theirs and has leadership in their respective field or market.

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With every project, we start from scratch with no preconceived ideas.
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We differ from other agencies in that we take a holistic approach to every brief, always seeking to deliver strength and consistency across each dimension of the client’s brand and business. Ultimately, it’s about achieving cut-through and connectivity with end users.

How does narrative play into your designs?

We are passionate about unifying interiors with a narrative that is authentic to the location to produce differentiated guest experiences. Jackalope is a great example of this. The most important and challenging aspect of the project was establishing a unique narrative to frame all the design decisions at a stage where the architecture and interiors were already well progressed and thus needed to be realigned.

The Jackalope sculpture by Emily Floyd makes a statement at the Jackalope Hotel.

The Jackalope sculpture by Emily Floyd makes a statement at the Jackalope Hotel.

We developed the ‘Alchemy’ narrative and then collaborated with Carr, Taylor Cullity Lethlean, and artists to create some highly shareable moments. These include Emily Floyd’s iconic seven-metre mythical Jackalope sculpture at the hotel’s porte-cochere and the Doot Doot Doot fermentation lighting installation designed by our team.

What do you think is key to creating immersive experiences?

Putting the guest or customer at the heart of the design process ensures that we are prioritising the desires and motivations underpinning their interaction with a space, and ultimately influencing their experience within it.

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We are revealing deeper layers to the experience than the surface belies.
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The resulting user-motivated narrative then guides the architects and influences our art curation and commissioning strategy to inject spaces with works and installations that build ambience, foster intrigue and contribute to a genuine sense of place. In doing this, we are revealing deeper layers to the experience than the surface belies.

Want to know more about the award-winning Jackalope Hotel? Take a journey.


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