Immersive design key to award-winning hospitality projects

Dec 8, 2017
  • Article by Online Editor

“Guests need to be engaged and transported if they are to maintain long-term engagement with a brand. It’s simply no longer enough to create beautiful spaces.” Ronnen Goren, Co-Founder and Strategy Director of Fabio Ongarato Design.

A slew of awards this year for Jackalope, a 46-room hotel designed around the theme of alchemy, has brought the concept of immersive design into sharp focus.

Behind the hotel’s narrative, which vacillates between the ideal and the surreal, is multi-disciplinary design firm Fabio Ongarato Design (FOD).

As well as picking up awards for Jackalope, the firm, which specialises in immersive design was also recognised for its work on Melbourne restaurant Kisumé and boutique hotel QT Melbourne.

Kisume signage
Kisume signage. Photography: Mark Roper

Each of these projects exemplifies the studio’s ability to set a strategic narrative that brings together brand identity; art direction; art strategy and commissioning; environmental design, including environmental graphics and styling; lighting design; landscape installation and design; wayfinding strategy and signage and other design aspects to achieve a cohesive design narrative.

The studio’s numerous wins this year demonstrate the importance of immersive design, both as a discipline and for its potential to create long-term brand engagement.

Fabio Ongarato Design has been integral in championing immersive design narratives as a tool for creating unique customer experiences, especially through a number of significant hospitality projects.

QT Melbourne interior
QT Melbourne interior. Photography: Mark Roper

Though the scope of work completed by Fabio Ongarato Design may be diverse and agile, the studio’s consistent focus on immersive experience creates an enduring link between each project. The AGDA’s recognition reflects the shift towards design that not only considers aesthetics and function, but also places value on the story being told, and how.

“Guests need to be engaged and transported if they are to maintain long-term engagement with a brand. It’s simply no longer enough to create beautiful spaces. Good design must touch both the heart and mind,” explains Ronnen Goren, Co-Founder and Strategy Director of Fabio Ongarato Design.

Signage for Doot Doot Doot restaurant at Jackelope
Signage for Doot Doot Doot restaurant at Jackalope. Photography: Sharyn Cairns

Responsible for spearheading the shift towards brand storytelling in design, Fabio Ongarato Design recognises that guests of luxury hotels and restaurants are learning to separate authentic experiences from novelty. In creating a cohesive language, the studio’s design elements are used to reflect the intended brand experience at every customer-facing touch point.

An example of this is Fabio Ongarato Design’s work for Jackalope, a hotel, restaurant and vineyard on the Mornington Peninsula. At each turn, visitors are encouraged to engage with a thematic world where the mythological narrative of the Jackalope is unveiled incrementally, yielding a sense of discovery.

QT Melbourne reception area
QT Melbourne reception area. Photography: Mark Roper

“Our work for Jackalope started with formulating the conceptual site narrative based on the concept of Alchemy, which then set the brief for the architects, landscapers and art commissions to follow. We endeavoured to ensure the guest experience mirrored the unique oeuvre of the site, ” explains Fabio Ongarato, Co-Founder and Creative Director of Fabio Ongarato Design.

Equally apparent in the studio’s approach to shaping customer experiences is in the dynamic response to environmental context. This approach is exemplified at QT’s Melbourne iteration, where the glamour of the brand is married to the duality of the site’s history – located where the Paris end of Collins Street meets the grit of Russell Street. At each turn, visitors are encouraged to engage with an over-arching message of playful luxury mingled with French noir undercurrents.

QT Melbourne
QT Melbourne. Photography: Mark Roper

“From the intriguing brand identity to the graphic installations, a noir atmosphere is present throughout QT Melbourne, transforming the hotel experience into ‘Maison QT.’,” explains Ongarato.

Through understanding the impact of immersive design in shaping brand experiences, Fabio Ongarato Design is responsible for creating some of Australia’s most enduring hospitality landmarks. For the studio, designing spaces that marry function with narrative means the difference between a trend and a leading establishment that will truly stand the test of time.

Featured projects by Fabio Ongarato Design

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