LTW Designworks Evokes Maritime Life on the Pearl River for the InterContinental Guangzhou.

For centuries, explorers from all over the globe sailed through China’s Pearl River Delta to the prosperous city of Guangzhou, trading commodities such as tea, spices, textiles, handicrafts and precious ivory and jade. Docking their ships at the nearby island of Pazhou, goods were brought into port and allowed the region to thrive successfully. The melding of Guangzhou’s rich tapestry, heritage and business culture, along with its strategic bay, formed the basis for the nautical interior concept of the InterContinental Pazhou public areas, while the variety of trade formed the inspiration behind the hotel’s dining venues which were all designed with unique themes. LTW was commissioned to design the hotel’s public areas, restaurants, ballroom and meeting facilities, spa and wellness centre, and all 350 guestrooms and suites.

“Back then Guangzhou was the main port, with people doing importing and exporting and I wanted to show that the moment guests enter the hotel,” says H.L. The main lobby space is surrounded with strongly veined marble flooring in shades of black, white and ash grey, mimicking the motion of the waves. Anchoring the lobby space, several semi-private timber framed pods sit randomly yet purposefully on a raised platform in front of a 3-story feature wall made entirely from undulating wooden slats that form familiar vessel shapes. The reception area is highlighted by a full-height artwork installation from local craftsmen depicting the coastline of the Pearl River Delta, while organically shaped stones are carefully placed around the lobby which not only provides additional guest seating but add to the overall nautical theme.

The specialty steak restaurant, Char, is a reinterpretation of a rustic southern steakhouse where open flame grilling was prevalent. Inspired by the cooking description of “medium-rare”, the interiors are a blend of classic cowboy elements that include longhorn cattle skulls and feature walls made from a mosaic of cowhide panels. Raw, heavy timber beams and wrought-iron screening details give the dining room a rustic and industrial era ambience, yet feels more timeless with the addition of contemporary seating and loose furniture in textured fabric and plush leather. Diners are sure to be enthralled to select their own cuts from a glass display case after consultation with the meat sommelier, watching it get cooked to perfection in the Josper oven while enjoying a crafted bourbon or whiskey at the open bar that overlooks the restaurant. The restaurant design overflows to the private rooms at Char, featuring mosaic cowhide carpets, banquette seatings that fit about 10 people comfortably.

The unique all-day dining restaurant is an open, circular dining space with a 270-degree unblocked view of the city beyond. Internally, an accessible landscape garden is the central feature that brings daylight and nature into the venue while a variety of seating options surround the garden with curved banquettes and plush leather armchairs framed with Burmese teak. A live-action kitchen services the dining room with various buffets sheathed with dark-veined marble and solid timber panels. Around the restaurant, custom-made thin metal screens hold clear resin blocks with various flowers and leaves inside.

The hotel’s Chinese restaurant is themed by the five Wuxing elements of fire, wood, earth, water and gold, manifested in the interior by way of carpet colours, loose furniture upholstery and curated artifacts in the private dining rooms. The a la carte dining room is linked to this theme through use of a plum blossom motif in the wall panels that run consistently throughout the venue.

The 2000sqm Grand Ballroom is one of the largest in the region with specially-designed plush carpet in undulating shades of bright crimson and matte ivory. The intricate wall panels and carpet design inspired by the delicate ivory carving of the Chinese puzzle ball, complemented by shagreen and stingray feature details and linear wall sconce lighting placed around the perimeter of the ballroom. Providing customizable
lighting effects for any type of event are a series of rectilinear ceiling grids infilled with bespoke crystal chandeliers rendered in the same floral pattern that give elegance and delicate interplay of shadow and light.

Overall, LTW played with the elements of design – predominately colour, texture and material to create a luxurious hotel rich in heritage and infused with modernity.

Photo Credits: Seth Powers

Project: InterContinental
Location: Guangzhou, China
Design Studio: LTW Designworks