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WEB EXCLUSIVE: The Duniway Woos Guests to Feel at Home

PORTLAND, OR—A multimillion-dollar renovation that was two years in the making, the newly redesigned The Duniway is a feast for the eyes. Upon a guest’s first visit, it is designed to feel like a homecoming. Allen Chan, partner at DesignAgency based in Toronto, helmed the renovation of the hotel located right in the heart of the city.

“On entering the hotel, we wanted guests to feel like they had arrived in Portland, but also experience something very different than what the city currently has to offer. It had to feel like you were walking into someone’s home,” said Chan. “From the revolving doors, the natural landscape of Portland flows into the entrance where guests are welcomed by a custom-designed botanical glass screen. This one element serves myriad purposes: It pays homage to Portland’s native ecology; creates a lively connection between the interior and exterior; and provides an immediate point of visual interest.”

Existing elements included the ceiling of the lobby, the Emperador marble in the lobby flooring and the locations of the bathroom fixtures in the rooms. The hallways and corridors remained untouched for this renovation. 

“We really had a lot of fun designing the feature screen at the entrance. Creating a screen that size always has challenges, but the end result is beautiful,” he said.

Chan and his team sought to create a peaceful ambience that would provide a calm reprieve from the busy urban location. “The tones are earthy and rich, combining with accents of brass and rose gold to provide an elevated feel to the palette,” he said. “In the lobby, as well as in the common areas and the guestrooms, we mixed a soothing material palette with an eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary furnishings, feature lighting, seemingly found accessories and nature-inspired elements. We were inspired to create a quasi-residential feeling throughout that is fresh, upscale and equally comfortable for working or socializing. The new interior instills an air of romance and nostalgia, while also feeling modern and edgy.”

Elaborating on the creative vision and thoughtful execution of this project, Chan added, “Throughout the hotel, we considered subtle cues to convey Portland’s spirit of traditional craftsmanship and detailing, while also celebrating a fusion of history and modernity. For example, the lobby screen is edged in cold rolled steel with industrial style grommets,” he said. “Also, we demarcated a seating area by inserting white oak flooring, cut on a bias into the existing marble floor. To add some unexpected detail, the floor is also laid in angles and edged with strips of bronze.

Located behind the reception area, a series of curio cabinets displaying quirky objects reference travel and suggest a made-in-Portland vibe. “Another layer that we think really tells the story and complements the design are all the found items that we brought into the space—that really gives the project that extra layer of ‘Portland-ness,” he said.

A partnership with Portland bookstore, Powell Books, to curate books for each guestroom lends a final touch of locality to the interiors. “The books are all available for purchase in-room or from the store, enabling travelers to support a local business and highlighting literature and printed media as a means to engage and enhance the guest experience,” he said.