Boutique Design - July/August 2018 - 42
boutiquedesign.com july + august 2018
2 In the Corner Suite, the bed
literally takes center stage. The
horizontal sweep of the ceiling
detail works with the vertical
reach of the blue built-in unit
to define distinct zones without
using walls or closing down the
3 Business is part of community
life. Artist Oscar Melgar makes
it a visual pleasure with his
spray-painted wood artpiece in
this meeting room.
COURTESY OF STUDIO GAIA ( WAISBROD); MARk SIlvERSTEIn PhOTOGR APhY/ STUDIO GAIA ( W PAnAMA)
If you want to convince travelers a hotel is worth a look in, don't
use the l-word. Local inspiration is as expected as a bed. So, what is
new(s)? Hotels like W Panama. Instead of just mirroring the cities
around them, they're using the sights, smells, sounds and signature
elements that shape urban life in their environs and mixing in fresh
influences to create interior neighborhoods with their own culture and
vibe. Forget local; think locale.
Okay, so W's first hotel in Central America may be offering the city's
unofficial new borough on prime vertical real estate on the 12th to 23rd
of the Evolution Towers' 56 floors instead of a ground-level plot. But, its
real-deal mix of old and new, business district chic and shipping industry
grit, signature dining and authentic street fare (served from a stylized
version of a food truck) gives it a lived-in and livable sense of community.
New York-based interior design firm Studio Gaia started building the
foundation for a municipal microcosm by considering how people
explore and experience the postcard moments and much beloved holein-the-wall backstreet eateries in the places they want to be part of. That
changed up the entire flow of the public areas in this 203-room luxury
lifestyle hotel. While its contemporary competitors (and there are plenty
of them; the hotel inventory has grown more than tenfold in recent
years) roll out lots of open-plan spaces, W Panama narrows the focus
with a walk pattern much closer to a sidewalk with focal points on either
side and corners where guests and locals can kick back and relax.
Although the hotel has an enviable CBD location and an address on
Calle 50 just off Panama City's ultra-luxe Zona Rosa, Studio Gaia
founder and principal Ilan Waisbrod and his team deliberately chose to
craft an environment that puts guests face-to-face with all the crosscurrents of this 519-year-old destination-not just a carefully edited,
ivory tower retreat for the super-rich.
In terms of delivering an authentic feeling of la vida loca-l, the need to
reference the Panama Canal was clearly the elephant in the creative room.
The design team turned this have-to-have into a want-to-have slice of the
city by using five custom-made versions of standard shipping containers