Space Suited

Published in JWM, Alessandro reveals design intent for the upcoming JW Marriott parq Vancouver

Bringing design concepts to life is more than a job - for Alessandro Munge, it's great fun.

The Design-Minded are a little different from the rest of us. While most people choose to paint colors or a new sofa based on trends or existing furnishings, designers think in larger concepts: space, flow, emotion, authenticity.

This way of seeing the world is inherent to Alessandro Munge, the Toronto-based trailblazer who has led a slew of high-profile projects at Studio Munge, his award-winning interior design firm. Tapped by JW Marriott for a new hotel at the eagerly anticipated parq Vancouver – a multipurpose entertainment destination set to open in fall 2017 – Studio Munge is driven by its founder’s lifelong passion for good design.

“I started my career very early on, helping my mother with her interior business,” Munge says. A discerning client spotted one of the 14-year-old Munge’s sketches and asked to have it produced – an “aha” moment in which Munge grasped the powerful relationship between design and emotions. Today as Studio Munge expands its portfolio to hotels, residences and leisure spaces around the world, its ability to elicit a strong emotional response is one of its signatures.

“We like to capture people’s expressions as they move in our spaces. It happens when you create a really great narrative,” Munge says. “I like to try to get inside people’s heads. For example, we are currently working on Toronto’s biggest nightclub, so I have been trying to get into the mindset of someone in a club. After a couple of cocktails, you want to move, touch, feel free. I don’t ever want someone to just feel one feeling – I’d feel like I failed.”

" There is a sense of honesty to the materials: wood is wood, stone is stone."

Alessandro Munge

There is little chance of that. One-note spaces are not the province of Munge, whose mold-breaking designs seem to have their own personalities, from sparklingly modern bistros to sumptuous residential developments. But the parq Vancouver project is particularly significant.

“This is a very special piece of real estate in Vancouver,” he says. The unique urban lifestyle space – combining a casino, two hotels, shopping and dining with an exquisite garden oasis, and spa and wellness adventures – is an innovative concept, and Munge is more than up for the challenge. ” The parq itself is almost like a resort. Guests move from the casino to the hotel to the incredible green spaces, and we’re part of that journey.”

And yet for all the drama of the locale, the vision behind the design is compellingly simple. Munge was inspired by the city’s lushness, from its gorgeous scenery to its natural resources. “There is a sense of honesty to the materials: Wood is wood, stone is stone – materials that are key to Vancouver itself. The rooms are tasteful, luxury, timeless, with a meticulous attention to detail, but they are all centered on the gorgeous views.” For all its splendor, Vancouver often has gloomy weather. “When guests open the door to the hotel, I want them to feel a rush of beauty and calm,” Munge says. When it comes to an emotional response after a long day of travel, there is hardly anything more ideal than that.”