Power and Pleasure at the W Hotel

Washington’s first W Hotel actualizes designer Dianna Wong’s impression of DC culture: a lot of power and pleasure. “Ultimately, the more power you have, the more pleasure you get,” she says. To start, she chose a monochromatic black-and-white palette, with bold accents of red, white and blue &mdash and purple, for the undecideds.

A mere block and a half-circle away from the White House, the W Hotel has interiors that are neo-romantic and eclectic. “It came from respecting the historic hotel and its architecture and history and then applying a lot more modern sensibility to it,” Wong says.

Born in Hong Kong, raised in Montana, educated at Harvard and Cambridge, now living and working in Los Angeles, Dianna Wong has previously tackled The Beverly Hills Hotel and Bungalows, the MGM CityCenter, The Oscars’ Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland, luxury resorts in The Bahamas and Macau and a private gaming club in Cairo.

We were able to talk to Wong for a few minutes on the phone before she flew from her Los Angeles office to DC for tonight’s grand opening.

Q: Where did your color choices come from?
A: Monochromatic black and white were used to set off the accent colors, seen in the artwork and some of the upholstery. We played off the colors of the flag a lot: red, white and blue.

(Wong notes that the three elevator cabs in the fifth image open to different colors on the inside. The left’s interior is red, the right’s is blue, but the middle is purple, which is also W’s color.)

Q: You used a lot of bold color on this project, but how did you do it without becoming overwhelming? What are your tips for working with color?
A: Choice one area you want to accent, [such as] a pillow on a monochromatic white bed. Have a neutral space, and then have one bold piece of furniture, like the red patent leather sofa. Paint one wall or paint the whole room an amazing color, and then have the furnishings be monochromatic. The other way to do it is to have it in your art work.

Q: How did you mix the themes of power and pleasure in the hotel’s interiors?
A: It was a kind of tongue-in-cheek thing. We used a lot of pinstripe fabrics and charcoal grays. It’s suiting, an official display of power. And we played with black lace a lot, using the lace motif throughout: Lace overlays pinstripes on the lobby rug; We have bedding in a charcoal pinstripe cashmere, and when you flip it over, it’s fuchsia. There’s also leather patent Louis XVI replicas in the lobby.

Q: What could a homeowner learn from the W’s style?
A: We [all] often kind of come with a collection of things that doesn’t fall into any one style and any one look, which is actually better for creativity. If you live in a turn of the century, or something, and it has really wonderful molding, but have modern furniture… It sheds light on the old and gets rid of all the fussiness. We constantly played that dance between modern and classicism. For example, the silver leaf mirrors have that tweak of history.

Q: How do you maintain a timeless quality in your interiors, while also using popular themes, such as lace and the color fuchsia?
A: I think that timelessness means that it’s something of quality and something of integrity. It’s a thing of the past that you would change the overall look to slavishly follow trends. It’s like wearing vintage fashion. People are much more eclectic in their fashion and design now. People aren’t afraid of collecting things over time and not having an interior date itself.