Dramatic architecture and dynamic space. J W Marriot, Bengaluru, reflects the texture of the city as its designers HBA Singapore and Zoran Dzunic Design capture the essence of a vibrant, metamorphosising metropolis.
JW Marriott. A business hotel in a city where Indian culture embraces the buzz of modernity with gusto. The image of Bengaluru as a custodian of tradition and a retiree haven is fast receding, to be replaced with one of an IT hub where young Indians and foreigners work at frenzied speed to achieve prescribed targets. For Zoran Dzunic, Bengaluru exudes grandness, change, speed, liveliness, drama.... and this vibe is expressed in the design and execution of one of the most prestigious projects in hotel design.
Creating lasting first impressions is a prerequisite for a good hotel design. Zoran Dzunic Design, with their vast experience, were well aware of this and perhaps that is why they opted for the idea of theatrical simplicity. It is the proportions that create the drama: A 40-feet high reception and lobby, 30-feet high ballroom! The ballroom is easily one of the grandest in the city, capturing attention with its size and simplicity. Lights have been used to accentuate the soaring heights of the hotel spaces in the main lobby, ballroom, as well as in the restaurants. The crystal pendants are carefully designed to accentuate the grandness but still retain transparency so as not to obstruct the view.
Most of the F&B outlets are also well proportioned, having double heights and unique designs. Though separate entities, the restaurant areas appear to be interwoven with each other, making it hard to draw a differentiating line between them. The effect is interactive and it reiterates the drama. But where speciality restaurants interweave in a theatrical ambience, the casual BBC (Bangalore Baking Company a Marriott brand for Indian properties for sundry and baking shops) has a white, clean and minimal ambience.
The main three-meal restaurants have an elaborate active display kitchen each, with display shelves that go double-height and become a set-up stage for the Lobby Bar above. The Lobby Bar, in turn, acts as a backstage for the speciality restaurants that feature double-height cooking lines with seating around it. Again, a theatrical plan with seating platforms evolving around the cooking line. A dramatic bar with private seating completes the ensemble.
A colourful welcome
The main theme while designing the lobby and reception was colour, through which the concept of placing the old in context with the new has been taken further. The back wall is an absolute stunner. The 40-feet dark wooden wall filled with shades of red, orange and green vertical slivers, a contemporary version of a typical sari shop in India, was inspired by the spice shops and saree shops of India, where colours spill over each other. The same theme was used as the headboard in the guestrooms and suites, except that silk was used instead of glass û the perfect way to connect guest rooms with public spaces.
While executing the design of J W Marriot, Bengaluru, the design firm decided to rope in specialists to develop and create areas earmarked for them. So, the spa was developed in collaboration with Marriott's spa specialist, Rhett Pickering (Founder of Quan Spas). The outdoor pool area has been done in collaboration with famous landscape studio Vladimir Djuro/vic Landscape Design from Beirut, Lebanon. The overall architecture has been done by Rajeev Thakker of A-RT Studio based in Mumbai, with whom Zoran Dzunic Design have had a very close collaboration.
A hotel's rating ups by several notches when its rooms are spacious. The smallest typical room of this hotel is around 500 sq ft, whereas suites are at least double that size. Space not being a scrunch here, it was important that the view outside the rooms would also be expansive. The rooms were therefore designed in such a way that most of them overlook Cubbon Park, one of Bengaluru's greenest spots. Some of the rooms even have terraces. All bathrooms are correspondingly spacious. Contemporary materials such as Corian and mosaic tiles set against white marble give the guest bath a clean, slick interior.
Purification of traditional Indian elements and placing them in the context of contemporary hospitality design has been the main design concept of the hotel. Traditional Indian materials that have been used for decades throughout the country have got a fresh lease of life here through their unique usage. Selection of the art was important, and its application simplifica¡tion in certain cases, and contemporisation in others made it part of another design altogether. "Sometimes the new design plays a pivotal role with other design elements revolving around it", says Zoran Dzunic, Company Head, Zoran Dzunic Design.
Zoran Dzunic Design has been working in India for nearly 20 years with HBA Singapore what is HBA. The firm worked on the first Marriott project in India JW Marriot Mumbai. Their portfolio also flaunts projects like Grand Hyatt, New Delhi and renovation of the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai. Zoran Dzunic Design is also working on several hotel projects like Marriott Jaipur, renovation of JW Marriott Mumbai, villa development and a spa in Himalayas for Tata Housing Development Company and various high-end residential projects in Mumbai and New Delhi. Thanks to this wide experience, the firm's understanding of Indian design developments goes much beyond the superfluous.
Dzunic believes that Indian design is going through a difficult stage right now. On one hand it has strong influences from the West, but objectives appear to be still unclear. On the other, it is constantly confronted by traditional Indian art and architecture that resists change. "This unusual situation results in mass production of two types of designs: cheap copies of western approach, or outda¡ted spaces using traditional Indian elements as a main design vocabulary", he avers. Dzunic offers a guideline for merging the two contrasting styles. "While accepting new western trends, one has to keep in place the traditional elements such as proportions, patterns, materials and colours, making India proud of its own heritage even as it makes a place for itself in the contemporary design world. A designer is bombarded with design stimulations; one must select among them, and put them in a contemporary context in order to work well with new structures." And if one wants a demonstration of how this is done with oomph, one need look no further than the JW Marriot Bengaluru, where old and new India come together into one sleek yet colourful design!
Architect: Rajeev Takker from a-RT, Mumbai
Interior Designers: Zoran Dzunic, Zoran Dzunic Design, Belgrade, Serbia in collaboration with Paula O' Callaghan, HBA Singapore (FF&E)
Landscape Design: Vladimir Djurovic, VDLA, Beirut, Lebanon
Lighting Designer: Michael Huggins, Lighting Direction, Hong Kong
Kitchen Designer: Alburn William, CKP, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Meet the designer
Firm: Zoran Dzunic Design established in 2000.
Firm specialisation: Hospitality and residential interior design.
Design philosophy: Everything is designed. Few things are designed well.
Philosophy towards life: Always try new things.
Favourite architect/Designer: Arne Jacobsen and Charles Correa.
HBA Singapore, 700 Beach Rd L2, Singapore, 199598.