W Seattle unveils $2.5-million renovation

After a three-month closure and a $2.5-million renovation of its main floor living room, bar and restaurant, W Seattle opened its public spaces.

The design for this renovation is a result of collaboration between W Hotels Global Brand Design Group and Portland, Oregon’s design firm, Skylab Architecture, whose Portland projects include Departure Restaurant & Lounge at the Nines, Nike Studio at 255 and Doug Fir, restaurant, lounge and music venue. Funding for the project was made by Host Hotels & Resorts, multi-branded portfolio owners of luxury and upper upscale hotels that includes W Seattle.

According to Jeff Kovel, principal of Skylab Architects, the hotel’s interior draws connections to the geography and regional culture with the organization of the space and with furnishings and finishes. This way, “design is employed as abstract storytelling. In this case we are extracting the history of the future to conjure a unique experience around the W Seattle identity."

To that end, 31 floor-to-ceiling sculptural “lodge” or “totem poles” comprised of 174 sections run throughout the space. The centerpiece of the living room is a three-story fireplace that riffs on a traditional national park service look-out and is covered with nearly 1,000 stainless steel, industrial-inspired tiles. This is said to be a nod to Seattle’s interplay with the aviation industry.

There is a built-in DJ booth above the fireplace and metallic banquettes in an amphitheater formation. Elements of regional craftsmanship are represented in the pink and grey stripe fabrics used on the banquettes in the living room, which draw inspiration from weaving patterns found in Native American arts. Hanging string curtains of nylon thread shape the window treatments and multi-colored cording, harkening to the notion of fabric looms, provides seating area separations.

The northwest corner of the living room represents the “library,” offering a community table for group meetings, social gatherings or an individual workspace. Skylab Architects, in collaboration with New York City’s Flavor Paper, produced 6 by 22 foot wallpaper panels featuring a classic record album collection, which frames the space.


The hotel’s new restaurant and bar, TRACE, uses the open floor plan to allow maximum access. With seating for 80, the bar is surrounded by concrete panels fashioned after Pendleton blanket designs and the Sensitile Terrazzo tiled bar, composed of a concrete mix with embedded light conducting channels. The bar and restaurant are grounded with soft brown embossed ceramic floor tiles that look like end-cut tree rings that might be found in the forests of the Cascade Mountains.

The restaurant’s design materials and finishes in cool bronzy metallic gray, chrome and glossy black are balanced with overall warm, shimmery gold-hues. Anchoring the south end of the restaurant is a lenticular mural, 20 by 12 feet wide, designed by The Felt Hat, a Portland, Oregon “Design Thinking” company.

A 10-seat sushi bar is also available. For those wanting space for group dining, TRACE offers a 12-seat private dining area with a gaming theme punctuated by a table with a top that references a backgammon board. The room is closed off by a sheer curtain.

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