Art Breathes New Life into Boutique Hotel Design, Giving Guests Something New.
Boutique hotels are a hot trend in the field of hospitality design, known for their modern furniture, contemporary decor, and more often than not, expensive room rates. As such, guests want to get the most out of their money, and their stay – they want something new. Hoteliers and developers alike seem to have found a solution with the art hotel. Art hotels are growing in number, and variety. They provide guests with modern flare, while also being able to enjoy a cultural experience.
Hotels Dedicated to Artists
Founder of the Art Series Hotel Group and CEO of the parent company, Asian Pacific Group, Will Deague, has taken a unique approach to the art hotel. The Deague family has always been very passionate about art. Their love for the arts resulted in funding an artists’ expedition to Central Australia for ten of Australia’s leading artists. It was during this experience that Deague conceived the concept for The Art Series Hotel Group. Deague knew that he wanted to enter the hotel market with a boutique hotel, but he wanted this hotel to stand out from the ones he himself had traveled to. Deague explains, “There are hotels that call themselves design or boutique hotels, but other than having some funky furniture, they are all kind of the same. So we wanted to do something different and really dedicate these hotels to Australian artists.”
The Art Series Hotel Group is made up of three hotels all located in different areas of Melbourne, Australia: The Blackman, The Olsen, and The Cullen. Each hotel is inspired by, and dedicated to a well-known Australian artist. The artists were paired with each hotel specifically to match the location and design. The figurative painter Charles Blackman is the “quirky” inspiration for The Blackman; Adam Cullen is the “edgy” inspiration for The Cullen; painter Dr. John Olsen is the “lyrical and poetic” inspiration for The Olsen. For authenticity and to be true to the artist and brand, Deague felt it was important to use only artwork by the respective artists. Each of the three artists were very involved in the art selection, and created new pieces specifically for their hotel. Such as the twenty foot by ten foot mural painted exclusively for The Olsen. Deague wants his guests to have the opportunity to enjoy great art and learn about amazing Australian artists, but he doesn’t want them to be overwhelmed by it. Deague said, “It’s a real art experience and you can take as much or as little out of it as you want.”
Thirty-Seven Artist Designed Guestrooms
The Gladstone Hotel in Toronto, Canada has historically been a place of respite for artists, so it is fitting that each of the rooms in the Victorian hotel are completely designed and re-imagined by 37 different artists or designers. “You can stay here 37 times and have a completely different ex- perience,” said Noa Bronstein, Director of Exhibitions at The Gladstone. Each of the artists had complete creative freedom for their room from the wall paint to the furniture. They worked with the hotel president and developer, Christina Zeidler, to ensure that the room was functional and within budget. The unique room designs range from sleek and modern, to rustic, to whimsical – there is something for everyone. For the art enthusiast who craves more than their artist-designed guestroom, the hotel hosts between 70-90 exhibits each year. Zeidler’s mandate for The Gladstone, “to facilitate other people’s ideas”, is the cornerstone behind this successful hotel model.
Are Art Hotels The New Art Gallery?
Noa Bronstein believes there are several reasons why hotels are a great alternative to traditional spaces for both artist and art lover. Hotels provide an accessible public space to view and enjoy art, without any pressure to buy, and an artist’s work is introduced to a much broader cross-section of the public than it would in a traditional gallery. Artists who have unique practices, and find it difficult to work within the confines of traditional institutions are allowed more flexibility when it comes to exhibiting their work. Bronstein explains, “We are not collection based, and we are not a public institution. So we don’t look at art, craft, and design as being in separate silos. We look at them as being in conversation and in dialogue with one another.” Art hotels are increasing in the boutique market, but larger hotel chains have not yet adopted this business model. Are high thread counts and modern furniture enough to keep guests coming back? Not according to Stina Funch, hospitality designer and Founder of Atwater Inc. Studio. “ I think setting yourself apart from the masses is what it’s all about. And I think the boutique approach and incorporating art is a growing trend. The traveller has lots of choices for hotels these days and it’s about standing out and creating a new vibe to attract the savvy traveler”, explains Funch. Like art galleries, art hotels can change collections, providing guests with “something new” and memorable every time they visit.