The brief was to provide interior design for a luxury new-build hotel, in a contemporary but timeless style, which subliminally immerses the guest in the wonders of the area and is unique to the setting and culture of Nara. In line with the company philosophy – Restless Curiosity – our first step in developing the design scheme for this project was to explore the location: Nara. By doing this, the designers gained a deeper understanding of the cultural landscape. This allowed them to get a feel for the iconic elements of the city and, in turn, to appreciate what makes it so important as a worldwide destination, famous for its ancient temples, dramatic landscape, historical buildings and, of course, the Nara deer.
The aim was for the guests at the JW Marriott Hotel Nara to receive a warm sense of arrival. The reception and lobby design is purposely not overly formal but instead more relaxed, and welcoming, rather like that of a Grand Residence. Although the structure of the building is steel, they wanted to bring timber beams into the lobby space, a feature so distinctive to the Temples and ancient houses of Nara. Traditional influences reimagined in a contemporary style can be seen throughout the entirety of the hotel, but most prominently in the Guestrooms.
The focus of the restaurant is very much on the specialist Sushi and Teppanyaki cuisine, for which there are special counters which feature at each end of the space. G.A Brand Design’s work on the brand identity, logo and menu works in perfect partnership with the interior design. The typeface developed for this restaurant takes inspiration from the triangular interlocking wood beams of the traditional treasure house. It is believed that Nara was the final stop on the famous maritime ‘silk road’.
The Spa at JW Marriott aims to capture some of the calmness and serenity found in the Tempyo architectural temples located around Nara. The use of teak wood timber in traditional Japanese style screening provides privacy in areas where required, and discreet views from others. The dark textured stone finish throughout was added to create a feeling of warmth and regeneration. All these carefully crafted elements combine to create JW Marriott Hotel Nara: a Grand House, reimagined in a distinctly Japanese style.
There were several: the ‘Furin’ wind chime inspired light pendants above the lobby with ‘secret messages’ hanging below are a particularly special feature. As is the linear fireplace, welcoming the guest as they enter the hotel, which is a nod to the famous Nara fire festivals. However, our favourite aspect is the Nara deer artwork which overlooks the lobby bar and gives the space a real connection to the local area.
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