WeslodgeWill Speros • November 22, 2016
The JW Marriott Marquis Dubai—the world’s tallest hotel—may evoke grandiosity, but its latest restaurant brings it back down to earth with an atmosphere that balances residential-style comfort with Old World opulence. Toronto-based studio Navigate Design transformed the hotel’s 11,000-square-foot 68th floor to accommodate Weslodge, the eccentric yet homey dining concept overlooking the city.
“We want the restaurant to feel warm and inviting, using plush upholstery, rich wood, brushed metal, leather, and velvet, creating a very private home feel,” says Navigate Design co-founder Ken Lam. “It’s playful, comfortable, established, and exclusive all at the same time.”
Departing from the original Toronto outpost’s darker palette, the new Weslodge embraces brighter tones and accents that amplify its sky-high location, including walls adorned with satin lacquer panels and textured wallcoverings. While each space embodies its own unique style, detailing in the woodwork maintains a consistency, along with lighting and artwork, across the restaurant. And though it is designed for meals to be enjoyed wherever guests desire, there are more formal dining rooms that can be separated from the bar-lounge with heavy drapery and double-glass pocket doors incorporated into the portals. The inner dining room also provides a glimpse into the open, glass-encased kitchen.
A 33-foot-long bar, crafted with intricate panel detailing, inset marble, mixing glass, and antiqued mirror, greets guests. The living room-style bar space is outfitted with area rugs, curated artwork and window vignette seating, and Spanish- and Italian-patterned tile floors. Solid oak is used as well, evoking a weathered quality with a finish mimicking its faded wood grain emerging between brushstrokes. “Part of the design mandate is to celebrate beautiful craftsmanship and woodwork throughout the space,” Lam explains, and so seating in the front bar area is styled with tufted leather, plush velvet, dark wood frames, and exposed nailheads.
Located in the back of the restaurant, the stately Blue Room offers a place of retreat and a distinct personality. A pop of burgundy from the banquette and a neutral Victorian floral motif wallcovering offset the pervasive masculine blue hue, and a subtle steampunk touch comes thanks to a red wire and rose gold light fixture overhead.
More than 150 pieces of handpicked artwork fill Weslodge’s walls, conjuring a strong Victorian influence with hunting scenes, portraits, maps, and royal animals. Thanks to modern software, some are even an eye-catching combination. “While most of them are the Photoshop magic of stock photos, some of them are actual old paintings,” Lam explains. “Half of the picture frames are new, and the other half are vintage frames refinished.”
Channeling both the aesthetic of the restaurant’s Canadian home and a collector influence, more than 100 pieces of décor, most selected from vintage stores in Toronto, also set the mood, while the dozens of taxidermied animal heads and even bespoke skulls gracing the walls perpetuate the private Victorian home vibe.