Hospitality is a vocation

Matteo De Bartolomeis

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  • Justin Wells
  • The façade of the first Curio in Australia is certainly bold in its design, while the interiors - designed by Woods Bagot - contrast an urban style with extensive use of greenery.
  • An oasis of calm. La Ville is a boutique hotel which shuns the traditional Dubai clichés to offer up vibrant, informal luxury with a contemporary, chic vibe.

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14 NOV 2017
A native Australian, with an education in architecture and interior design, with two decade’s experience in the hospitality industry, dozens of high-end hotel projects with independent properties and international chains. Justin Wells has worked with major designers in Australia and in the United Kingdom, and for some years now, he has been working in Dubai where he currently holds the position of Regional Lead Lifestyle in the Middle East for the international firm Woods Bagot

You are a hotel designer, what expectations do you hold for an event such as Downtown Design and Dubai Design Week?
My expectations change yearly of such events as Downtown Design and Dubai Design Week. I am afforded the luxury of being able to contribute to such analysis of the Hospitality and Design Markets, and this year I would expect much reflections on 2018 and the run into Expo. Woods Bagot continues to support such essential events in the design calendar.

The D3 has progressively expanded, some major international architecture firms have opened branches, what do you think of this?
As an architect, I believe the wider community can only benefit from a broader and deeper design talent pool, engaging within the public realm. With D3 realizing itself as a defined precinct of design, it is natural to expect such international interests would gravitate to such a facility. Dubai, as one of the truly acknowledged global cities, benefits from the world’s eye reviewing such fascinating design. The current maturation of the Dubai design market is the result of newly established international architecture firms together with the already present design community, striving to excel on design solutions of previous times.

Made in Italy is always more and more present, what do you think of Italian companies’ approach to design?
Woods Bagot invests a considerable time researching into new materials, supplier ranges and fabrication facilities, such that our clients benefit from the Collective Intelligence of this research. Italian companies are often multi-generational and passionate about their products quality and legacy. We continue to discover and establish new relationships with Italian manufacturing companies on the basis of quality and their desire to compete on a global playing field.

What are your opinions regarding the hospitality market in Dubai and the Gulf? 
The hospitality in the gulf continues to change as market forces impact on it. Currently and in the coming 2-3 years we ill be experiencing a spiked increase in ready-to-market approaches of conversions or refurbishments leading the way of new enquiry. Also new brands continue to enter the market and Woods Bagot’s global portfolio continues to attract such opportunities. We also see the increase of longer stay branded residence projects in the GCC.
As residential markets continue to reinvent themselves to maintain market edge, we see more investment influences toward brand equity of lifestyle or luxury and confidence of product quality achieved through branded residences. Projects as Marsa Al Arab portray a fascinating vision given its specific focus to Family Tourism and the leisure precinct around Burj Al Arab. Also the Marsa Al Seef development is interesting given its activation of old and new dubai all along the traditional creek area. Relatively recent openings of both Woods Bagot hotels, Jumeirah’s Al Naseem and Hotel LaVille in Citywalk have also been well received as examples of new Beach Resort design and European-scaled urban hotels respectively. Hospitality projects in the pipeline continue to be fascinatingly diverse typologies from Luxury to Midscale, Libraries to Expo, always seeking reinvention of use through hospitality, context and place making.

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