QT Melbourne Refurbishment – extending the life of an iconic rooftop setting

When the showstopping QT Melbourne needed freshening up 7 years after its Melbourne launch, the original interior designer Nic Graham & Associates (NGA) was called in to oversee and orchestrate the revitalisation. The approach included a full refurbishment of several custom-designed modular pieces from our Breeze Collection, which feature on the CBD rooftop. Our refurbishment process served up a host of short and long-term benefits for the client and community – saving time and materials, minimising waste by prioritising recycling, and coming in at a third of the cost of new product.

Before and after the Tait refurbishment process.

The original design

The story began in 2016 when we were invited to do the initial fit-out of the rooftop space above Russell St. The Breeze Collection was selected for its ability to be customised with a unique combination of materials including metal frame, timber armrest and upholstered cushions – with QT Melbourne also looking to work with local suppliers. Their team shared the floorplan and measurements for us to work with and our design studio worked up a customised solution to work in the space. The venue, the 7th in the Australian brand’s portfolio, opened up to much fanfare and has been a consistent name on boutique stay recommendations for Melbourne. Equally known for its bars and eateries as its rooms, the QT Melbourne rooftop has proved a popular venue for high-flyers — both locals and out-of-towners — wanting to set the night alight. After 7 years of heavy use, it was decided that this space, along with the rest of the venue, needed a freshen up – and our refurbishment program was chosen as the most cost-effective and sustainable way to make it happen.



Re-powder coating the Breeze Sofa frame at our Melbourne factory.

The anatomy of a smart refurbishment

The first part of the refurbishment journey was a thorough assessment of the existing pieces. Collaborating with NGA, we discussed strategies for rejuvenating the timber, and considered the opportunity to re-powdercoat and re-upholster in new colourways.

We carefully considered and selected fabrics and finishes that would be most appropriate. For example, we chose to upholster the seating in Instyle’s high performance Zone vinyl for its high quality, durability, and easy maintenance – ideal qualities for a bustling hospitality environment. Given the rooftop’s operational nature, meticulous planning was also essential to minimise disruption. The refurbishment of the Breeze Sofa, Corner Module, and Left and Right Module was carried out in three stages over eight weeks, ensuring completion before the venue’s busy Melbourne Cup event that year.


Breeze Sofas before refurbishment at QT Melbourne’s rooftop.

A strategic move

From the client side, EVT’s Design Director, Dean Duckworth, explains that the refurbishment was a strategic choice for the venue, adding to the aesthetic that the hotel is known for, and which attracts its high-flying design-conscious crowd.

‘The refurbishment of any well-loved and frequented hospitality venue, like QT Melbourne’s rooftop, requires careful consideration as customers love it for a reason,’ he says. ‘Because of that, the works need to have sound operational reasoning – a design spark so customers know there’s been a change. At the same time, we don’t want to change what people love about the place. So, mixing the new with refurbished furniture makes a huge amount of sense. Reuse of furniture can only happen when the original pieces are built of a high quality. That was definitely the case with Tait’s Australian-designed and handcrafted furniture.’



Refurbishment over replacement

Because we’re committed to making more responsibly, we intentionally design for refurbishment, to extend lifespan and minimise environmental impact. We aim for circularity at every touchpoint, so if we can repair to increase the product’s lifespan, we will.

At QT Melbourne, the client demonstrated a sophisticated understanding of the venue’s guests, understanding that their tastes align with sustainable values and aesthetics. Our sustainable design and manufacturing practices helped the client deliver a memorable and on-brand experience that prioritises repair, reduces waste and extends longevity – fully embracing the ethos of ‘choose well, buy once’.


Published 12 June 2024

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