Wells International is a new hospitality design company founded by architect/designer Justin Wells. The fast-growing practice is based in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia with a team of over 30 architects, designers, high-level industry consultants, and hospitality specialists located around the world, from London and Lyon to Bangkok and Dubai. The company is entirely focused on hospitality projects, with four areas of expertise – Hotel design, Food & Beverage design, Spa & Wellness, and boutique Collections.

Founded by Wells in mid-2020 – with a belief that this unprecedented period of global uncertainty presents an opportunity for the hospitality industry to reimagine how it engages with the design process – the company is driven by a desire to deliver an emotive and fresh approach to hospitality design that responds to the rapidly evolving needs of the industry.

“Our role as designers is to be transformative and to allow people to be moved,” says Wells. “We want our clients to be emotionally captivated, and for the design process to be thrilling, satisfying and wonderfully consuming. Creating memorable experiences is our mantra, and our vision is to be bold, brave and, above all, different. We design stories.”

Wells International is currently working on exciting hospitality projects in Saudi Arabia, Croatia and Vietnam.

A bespoke approach

Wells International is launching in a post-pandemic world where remote working has become the new normal. Clients are not only after a more flexible approach but are also increasingly discerning with a desire for bespoke solutions.

The company sees this agile landscape as an opportunity to redefine the way design projects are run at a global scale in order to respond quickly and in a highly targeted way to the specific demands of the hospitality industry. Wells International’s global experts are able to come together from around the world in bespoke teams built specifically for each project.

 “A bespoke approach is tailored to a client’s needs, desires and budget – at Wells International, we believe project teams should be tailored in the same way,” says Wells. “These agile and experienced teams combined with our thoughtful, emotionally rich approach to design will be essential in the race for industry recovery in hospitality. With this approach, our clients will get the best in industry working on their project, with greater access to materials, supply chains, and reimagined design thinking.”

Wells International considers hospitality a borderless industry, and the business is structured to cater to the needs of operators and clients by ensuring teams are located strategically in Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. While designers are located around the world, Wells International is headquartered in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, the epicentre of some of the most exciting hospitality projects in the world. This location is also conveniently positioned between Europe and Southeast Asia, enabling the senior design team to easily visit a site at any time during the design process or build.

Design as theatre

Wells International has developed a unique approach that goes beyond conventional luxury to create truly memorable hospitality spaces with purpose. The team creates mesmerising spaces that engage people from the moment of first arrival, in the same way that an audience is captivated by theatre.

“We want our work to tell a compelling story and take people on an emotive journey – and we liken this approach to a theatre,” says Wells. “When this manifesto is applied and resolved with conviction, we can create inspired spatial design with a beautiful narrative.”

For each project, a “script” is crafted through immersive research that delivers an in-depth understanding of the setting and what will drive the narrative. The team then assembles a material palette and begins to develop an approach to creating the spaces and defining the “scene”; and considers how people will populate the space, both as “actors” and “audience”.

“Wells International designs for people – we believe they deserve to be excited in experiencing hospitality spaces in the same way that theatre thrills and excites,” says Wells. “We create emotive spaces that allow an audience to escape everyday life and come away with a deeply personal and memorable experience.”

About the founder

Justin Wells is an architect/designer with more than 25 years experience working on hospitality projects in the Middle East, Australia, Europe, and Southeast Asia for some of the world’s hospitality design giants.

Wells ignited his career in Australia, commandeering TONIC Architecture + Design, where he was a Managing Partner for seven years. He then became a Principal at global design practice HBA and Regional Lead of Lifestyle at Woods Bagot, before joining dwp | Design Worldwide Partnership as Director and Global Head of Hospitality. Over the years, he has led teams to deliver iconic hospitality projects, including W Hotel Abu Dhabi, the award-winning Katara Beach Club Resort & Spa, Aloft Deira, and Hard Rock Hotel Dubai.

“Hospitality design and travel have been deep passions of mine from an early age,” says Wells. “I have always been fascinated by different places, cultures and experiences, and this has translated into an emotional approach to design.”