Awarded: IES Lighting Design Award of Excellence 2017 – VIC/TAS Chapter
Event Hospitality and Entertainment (formally AHL) created the QT brand to challenge the usual hotel model, offering an edgy and location-relevant option for those looking for a more fun and sophisticated overnight stay. QT Melbourne was the third installation of the growing brand, and was to become the new benchmark in the Australian hotel market.
The brief was delightfully elastic, requesting a lighting approach which pushed the barriers of excitement, quirkiness, intimacy and discovery. Nestled in the centre of town on Russell Street, the design for QT Melbourne was to provide a reflection of the intelligent, sexy, sophisticated and artistic character of the Melbourne CBD. One of the client’s primary brief elements was that all lighting features were to be unique to this location, and not able to be seen at another hotel or establishment. This extended the lighting design scope to the design of many bespoke luminaires.
The Event management team helped guide the design process from the early stages, with clear direction during the conceptual phase and a hands-on approach during delivery. The interior design was split into two parts, the public / common spaces (Entry Lobby, Café, Pascal Bar, Pascal Grill, and Rooftop Bar), and the guest floors (suites and corridors). Each part of the design, Public Areas and Guest Areas, were undertaken in isolation. The two design teams were not allowed access to each other’s design approach during the entire design phase. This allowed each team to undertake their creative process without influence by the other.
Lighting design, however, was the only creative design input that crossed both elements, and the lighting design team were under strict direction not to divulge any information between the two interior design teams.
The lighting design concepts began early into the program, allowing the ideas to stitch seamlessly within the interior designers direction in a collaborative and synchronised fashion.
The interior design for the public spaces was focused on the imaginative and sophisticated nature of the Melbourne vibe, with an eclectic barrage of rich finishes and eccentric art interventions. The lighting design looked to support this with a focus on character, discovery and attention to detail.
From the Entry Lobby you are instantly taken by the indulgent presentation of the interiors, which flows relentlessly up the main stair to the Level 1 bar and restaurant. The primary lighting design approach was based on three main focal points:
1. MOOD – Sexy, sophisticated, opulent. Each area had to present as a slight character variant, offering a selection of moods, but staying true to the overarching style.
2. CONNECTIVITY – The level of complexity and variety offered by the interiors and art curation required something to pull them together visually. Lighting needed to be the glue that held it all together.
3. DISCOVERY – With so much visual interest on offer within a relatively small space, the lighting needed to be structured to produce a hierarchy of visual focus to create a feeling of discovery and surprise without feeling confusing or erratic.
With a diverse mix of finishes and colours, the light source selection was critical to the mood. Illumination levels and luminance of surfaces needed to be carefully balanced, while the challenge of revealing the many reflective finishes required a thoughtful approach to source direction and concealment.
A strict layering approach allowed the lighting to ebb and flow between spaces, creating a journey which sits somewhere between a museum and a fine-dining restaurant. Subtle highlights of main paths and points of interest provide a subconscious way-finding device, while adjacent spaces are given a zone of ‘relief’ before the next space is entered. A large number of integrated details were designed to enable the lighting to slide into the interiors so they present as one.
On exiting the lift, bold coloured carpets extend down the long corridors. Custom designed wall luminaires wash the floor, capturing the patterned colours and provide a clear runway to the suites, while bespoke room number luminaires identify the suite locations. The guest suites present as stylish blend of industrial sheik and urban sophistication. All luminaires are custom designed, including the tram-inspired main pendant and solid brass vanity lighting. Concealed linear and focused spot lighting envelop the interiors, drawing visual attention to the lavish finishes and plush materials. A careful balance of light, shade and direction allow a series of switch-driven modes creating 3 distinctive moods without complex dimming.