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A blue abstract art installation

Virtually escape into the world of art in hotel design

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Virtually escape into the world of art in hotel design

Are you swooning over staycations or dreaming of distant lands? We are all feeling the desire to escape from it all. Editor Hamish Kilburn catches up with Elegant Clutter’s creative director Harry Pass to find out how art in hotel design can be a wonderful way of elevating a sense of escapism…

A blue abstract art installation

So whilst actual travel plans may be on hold, Elegant Clutter’s art consultancy team Art Story, share some of their favourite seaside projects and introduce us to some wonderful artist collaborators to spark a little wanderlust to brighten our day.

As we begin chatting, Harry Pass, creative director at Elegant Clutter, is keen to introduce me to the work of Michelle Lucking, who is one of Art Story’s growing network of artist collaborators. She is an award-winning figurative pastel artist, who creates large scale, beautiful seascapes and underwater portraits. Her art explores the contrasting raw power and calm serenity of the differing states of water, and the technical challenge of capturing both its translucency and movement. I have to admit that it is impossible not to feel summery looking at the water rippling over swimsuit clad bodies.

a painting of a woman swimming in a bikini

Image credit: Michelle Lucking

Often external artist collaborators are brought in to bring life to site specific projects. Pass explains that it is not about filling the walls, it is about telling a story. Like the time when the team transformed the Radisson Blu Hotel Nice. Located on the famous Promenade des Anglais and facing the sea, it is a striking contemporary hotel, blending luxury, elegance and wellbeing. Working with Trevillion Interiors to amplify the Yves Klein inspired décor intended to complement the Azure blue that saturates the skyline. Pass explains how the team commissioned several photo shoots to help tell the story of the city. Much of the guest room and corridor collection is framed monochrome photography. The high contrast photography gives away the strong sunlight of high summer and the timeless glamour of the French Riveria.

A landscape view of Nice

Image credit: Radisson Blu Nice

Closer to home, their in-house team of artists explored seaside surrealism for Hotel du Vin Brighton. Normally a picture frame supplied with one of the four sides missing would be rejected by any client as some kind of joke. As any comedian will tell you, a lot of hard work and behind the scenes preparation goes into the delivery of a single punch line. But as Pass always says ‘we are only really limited by our own imagination’ By working with EC’s Product Designers, the art team were able to develop a new type of artwork for this project – an open top picture frame with internal LED up-lighting. In this case, the artwork’s inherent sense of humour suggests the idea of the picture frame being full of sea water. The open frame is only possible thanks to an internal support structure, hidden by the reverse printed imagery on the glazing.

An image above a fireplace of a woman diving underwater

Image credit: Hotel be Vin, Brighton Bistro

Continuing the playful energy, the team at Elegant Clutter prove that you don’t have to be beside the seaside to get into the holiday spirit. In Malmaison Leeds, a sense of fun and escapism can be found in the suitcase inspired bedroom artwork. Malmaison is a long standing client of Elegant Clutter and they share a delightful sense of playfulness. The team were commissioned to create a guest room wallcovering design inspired by a sight the frequent traveler knows all too well and perhaps is even nostalgic about at this time, the x-ray machine at airport security gates. The distinctive glowing image and the eruption of the contents of the suitcase can bring a smile to anyone’s face – if you know where to look.

Elegant Clutter prove that artwork doesn’t have to be complicated or representational to intensify the holiday feeling. In the Amathus Beach Hotel in Rhodes, they created abstract interpretations of the sea using watercolour and ink. The client, London and Regional Hotels commissioned a series of limited editions that were then printed onto heavyweight fine art paper and framed by the in-house team before shipping to Greece along with a series of printed ceramic plates for above bedhead locations.

Image credit: Malmaison Leeds X-ray artwork

Image credit: Malmaison Leeds X-ray artwork

Pass believes that art serves to tell a story and now more than ever we need to tell the story of hope and optimism. What is more hopeful than a summers day? Or more blissful than the feeling of a long awaited holiday? The deep inhalation of sea air that seems to put the world to right? Artists lead the way in showing us the world how it was, how it is, and how it can be. So while we may not be able to visit the coast for some time, artists will continue to bring it to life for us until we can experience it for ourselves.

Art Story is the art consultancy arm of Elegant Clutter. Art Story sets out to transform spaces through imagination and collaboration. Working with a global network of artist collaborators the Art Story  team meets every brief with unparalleled creativity and enthusiasm.

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Main image credit: Elegant Clutter/Melia Rhodes