Meet The Maker: One Design Office

Introducing ODO – the Melbourne-based design practice working in collaboration with 1 Hotels’ design team to fuse our unique environment and heritage into the DNA of 1 Hotel Melbourne at Seafarers.

Get to know Seafarers designer One Design Office

When ODO director Samson Tiew first caught wind of a potential 1 Hotels project at Seafarers, Melbourne, he knew it was a project that aligned with his team’s commitment to non-traditional design and sustainability.

Since partnering with Riverlee and 1 Hotels to bring Seafarers’ hotel-branded residences to life, ODO has signed deals with global hotel brand Marriott and the upcoming Melbourne boutique hotel Smotel, solidifying the studio’s reputation as the emerging name in hotel design. Here, Tiew shares some insights on the Seafarers opportunity.

ODO was a wildcard entry that beat out eight leading design studios during the competitive selection process for Seafarers.

“I met David Lee [Riverlee development director] for lunch one afternoon, and I had a wild guess that Riverlee was bringing a 1 Hotel into Seafarers so I asked him about it. At the time, it was a well-kept secret, so it was a surprise to both of us that a mere whim turned out to be a reality.

“ODO had been collaborating with Riverlee since 2014, and we had also had an earlier chance to speak with the team behind 1 Hotels about a similar project with another developer. That project didn’t end up happening, but we did receive some valuable insights into the type of luxury, sustainable experience they were looking to create at Seafarers.”

Seafarers has unlocked new opportunities for ODO in the hotel design space.

“The hotel space is one that we’re always very excited about and it’s definitely a longer-term play for us. We relish the opportunity to produce public-facing pieces of work, so the scale of hotel projects and the fact that you enjoy such a broad reach with the general public is great.

“There’s a big distinction between the hotel brands we are working with and the scale of the projects, but our ethos is very similar across all of our work — we approach every project with curiosity. It’s always a process of questioning, interviewing and creating a sense of empathy so that we find the right solution for each project.”

Fusing sustainability with luxury, locally-sourced repurposed materials are a common element in the 1 Hotel Melbourne design at Seafarers.

“We have been able to source materials, finishes and establish a narrative that creates a sense of wellness and bring a lot of life to traditionally static environments.

“We took quite a few trips to various timber yards to explore the possibilities, and we found a very appropriate partner who had collected materials from 100-year-old demolished bridges. We’re using these materials as backdrops and bedheads in the 1 Hotel Melbourne guestrooms to reinforce not only the stories of nature but the maritime history of the site as well.”

As ODO continues to secure new hotel projects, the key learnings taken from the landmark Seafarers design will continue to influence hotel offerings in Melbourne and beyond.

“I think sustainability is a responsibility of us as designers, and we have a toolkit of sustainable elements that we can introduce to a project. It takes effort to pitch these ideas to clients, and it takes receptiveness from the clients, but if we can win with small initiatives to begin with, there will be a general market uptake of these sustainable concepts in future.

“It’s been such a joy to be part of the 1 Hotel process because we had the chance to redefine what hospitality meant and express what we believe in. A luxurious space doesn’t have to harm the environment.”