W Shanghai Entry Installation


Fabio Ongarato Design

Practice Area


W Shanghai

Project Vision

As part of the W Metropolis Shanghai hotel arrival sequence, the entry atrium provides an opportunity for a key statement installation, but is challenging as the space is 22 meters tall, ascends four floors and is intersected by bridge links.

The large suspended neon installation was designed to be viewed from all floor levels, at each bridge link as well as from the glass lifts, making it a truly 3D installation where the composition of elements and lighting needed to be considered from multiple vantage points and heights. The 24-hour nature of a hotel lobby also required the lighting to be programmed to respond to the changing time of day and varying light levels.

W Shanghai’s urban context presented Fabio Ongarato Design with a strong narrative base for the creation of a dramatic lobby entrance, one which transported guests from from the vibrant city outside to the W Metropolis inside.

The challenge was to give back to the city by reinterpreting the destination through a design that was a juxtaposition both hyperlocal and distinctively W, providing an immersive and memorable experience to surprise and delight guests and captivate passersby from outside.

The Fabio Ongarato Design team designed the individual light elements, created the overall atrium composition through 3D modelling and scale sections (as well as a motion animation sequences to test the composition from all viewing angles), bridge links and glass lifts. The production of the light elements underwent an extensive prototyping process as did the suspension system, while FOD worked with project engineers to consider both weight and access for maintenance.

W Hotel measures the success of the installation by Fabio Ongarato Design by the cultural impact it provides; it is, besides the view, the most photographed subject in the hotel. The installation consistently draws crowds of guests and external passersby into the hotel space to capture the spectacle and delve further into the W world.

The piece was scouted for its filmic quality as the backdrop for both an up and coming Chinese rap star video and a fashion project by famed local designer Xu Zhi, providing enduring cultural presence. The resulting installation crucially forms part of the hotel’s social equity, contributing to its fame and notoriety.

Project Details
Great use of ascending and descending shifts in perspective create a seemingly infinite streetscape of neon. It makes me feel like something naughty might happen on my way from the elevator to my hotel room.
Juror 1
A vertical performance. The choreography of layered objects and timed illumination is captivating.
Juror 2
Design Team

Fabio Ongarato (creative director), Ben Kluger (design director), Sarah Cope (director, wayfinding and placemaking)

Design Firm

Fabio Ongarato Design

Project Area

10,763 sq ft


GA Design (architecture)


Shanghai KangYe Construction & Engineering Co.,Ltd