Months after it’s official opening, Hotel Designs gains access inside London’s Great Scotland Yard Hotel for an ‘Unbound’ look into what it took art consultancy firm Elegant Clutter to complete a bespoke artwork scheme…
Most people associate Scotland Yard with the London Metropolitan Police. For some, the words are almost interchangeable.
This is explained by the fact that the original Metropolitan Police Headquarters in Whitehall Place had a rear entrance on a street called Great Scotland Yard. This became the public entrance to the police station and over time the street and the Met Police became synonymous.
It may come as a surprise that Scotland Yard is no longer technically in Scotland Yard. It is less of a surprise that the original 1820’s Grade II listed building, situated only three minutes walk from Trafalgar Square, has been turned into a luxury hotel. It is now proudly the first UK hotel in Hyatt’s Unbound Collection. The renovation has been dramatic and art has played a big part in the hotels development. We take a look behind the scenes at what was involved in creating, curating, handling and finally placing the extensive artwork collection on the walls of this striking hotel.
Elegant Clutter was appointed to be part of the team responsible for the transformation of this iconic building. Discussions on how best to deliver the artwork strategy were ongoing for more than two years. The team at Elegant Clutter were required to survey, scope, cost and re-cost in order to help the client plan budgets, feasibility and time scales. With such an iconic London landmark at the heart of the project everyone was focussed on ensuring the content was perfectly matched to the venue and its many backstories.
The first thing to mention is that no two of the 152 bedrooms are the same. And then there are the 15 individually appointed suites that were to be marketed as ‘enjoying a bespoke art selection that celebrates the historical element of your memorable stay’. Whilst this contributes to the hotels appeal and makes the guest feel they are staying somewhere truly unique is poses many challenges to the artwork company. (image – no 2 rooms the same)
The gauntlet was well and truly cast down. Whilst relaxing on their bed, taking in the sumptuous surroundings the guests will have no idea the lengths to which Elegant Clutter went, to make sure the artwork selection and positioning was ‘just so’. The rooms and suites benefit from a collection of investment art from artists such as Belinda Frikh and Nicola Green, bespoke framed by Elegant Clutter as well as custom made and designed artworks by Elegant Clutter themselves.
One of the bedroom artworks was inspired by Richard Hamilton’s renowned 1950s pop art piece crafted from painted and layered timber to create a 3D relief. Elegant Clutters highly stylised version picked on references from the period of Robert Peels premiership to create an imaginary London street scene – with a humorous twist. The traditional ‘bobby on the beat’ being replaced by a modern security camera in partnership with the emblematic blue police box. It perfectly fitted the brief from the hotel to fuse its rich history and tradition with modern luxury.
The subtle colours of the various artworks needed to be considerately paired together so that each room had its own mini-collection that worked as one. With all the rooms being so different the artwork selection had to be sympathetic to the colours, shape and layout of each one.
Elegant Clutter developed luxury feel frames for limited edition art and their relationship with the Tate enabled them to print Graham Southerland originals onto luxury silk scarves to be presented in acrylic boxed frames. The spreadsheet required to manage the accurate installation would have been more at home in an accountants office than a fine art studio. The invisible, behind the scenes work is just as important a part of the process as creating the art itself.
A key appeal of the hotel is that its historic and cherished buildings hold more hidden stories than any other kind in London. The role of the artwork in the public spaces was also to expose some of those stories but had to remain highly bespoke with a luxury finish.
Elegant Clutter was granted access to the London Metropolitan Polices historical records and memorabilia. These were used to help create story filled installations to give a contemporary museum like experience around the main entrance. Intriguing artefacts were carefully curated and floating display cases were designed and hand made to house them. The feature was brought together by using a metallic digital mural background made up of a rogues gallery of past ‘guests’ of The Yard. What you see as a result is an opulent history wall with multiple layers of interest. What you don’t see is the work involved with making a completely different sized box to house a different item requested by the client at the eleventh hour.
Equal care was taken in the framing of the collectable originals to the same part of the hotel. Pride of place on the ground floor is an imposing Belinda Frikh portrait. Its impact has been boosted with a hand-made frame, non-reflective glazing and a gold leafing to ensure an authentic luxury feel. Gold leafing is sometimes perceived as dying art but Elegant Clutter have painstakingly taken the time to hand gilt frames and even the artwork itself for a variety of luxury hotels. The result is impressive but very few would be aware of the time and diligence taken in the studio to achieve it.
With artwork this valuable and unique the Elegant Clutter art handlers insist on a white glove service. It’s an important detail for a project such as Great Scotland Yard where the artwork must be protected at all costs. And it’s not just the art that needs protecting. A 200 year old building must be respected too so an understanding of the walls themselves and the most appropriate fixing solutions is imperative. No one wants to accidentally drill into a lath and plaster wall for a grade II listed building because they haven’t done their homework. An art consultancy needs to be trusted for what they don’t do as well as what they do do. It may not be visible – but its all part of the service.
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Main image credit: Great Scotland Yard Hotel