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Industry insight: the power of art in hotel design

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Industry insight: the power of art in hotel design

At Hotel Designs we have always championed the value of art, but in this feature we explore the power of art. Editor Hamish Kilburn speaks to Clare Howlett, artwork design manager at Elegant Clutter, to learn more…

More than ever before, there is a demand among modern travellers for hotel operators have to create destinations we feel a connection with; a place we want to spend time in. Interiors, therefore, need to captivate, inspire, and resonate with us. Art can do that and so much more; art has the power to stir our emotions and leave a lasting impression. It’s no wonder that so many designers turn to art to inject personality into an installation but commissioning the right piece of art for your project is a craft in itself.

That’s why, in a search for creativity post-lockdown, I have decided to catch up with Clare Howlett, artwork design manager at Elegant Clutter, to see how the brand is engaging new artists and the process it applies when pairing artists to projects.

“We go on a creative journey with our clients. We start by drawing out the narrative to reveal the story and spirit of a place.” – Clare Howlett, artwork design manager at Elegant Clutter.

“One of the biggest advantages of being an art consultant is that we are not constrained by a house-style,” explains Howlett. “At Elegant Clutter we go on a creative journey with our clients. We start by drawing out the narrative to reveal the story and spirit of a place. We’re not about finding a theme; we are about how we amplify  character through artistic collaboration.”

As well as a strong in-house artwork studio, Elegant Clutter has a growing portfolio of artists they are working with. Having nurtured creativity in others throughout her career, Howlett is particularly passionate about the process of discovering new talent. Her years of experience as a  judge on international under-graduate design competitions is a distinct advantage when researching new collaborations. “We are art lovers as well as art curators,” she adds, “so I get an enormous amount of joy in supporting emerging artists as well as introducing established artists to new sectors.”

Quite often, Elegant Clutter is able to provide an already established local artist a brand new platform to showcase their work. The brand is currently working with swiss artist Etienne Krähenbühl to install one of his famous “Bing Bang” sculptures in the lobby of the new Hyatt Regency Hotel, which is directly connected to the Circle convention centre at Zurich airport. Working closely with Krähenbühl, Elegant Clutter will complete the installation using its own craftspeople to present the art in a way that integrates perfectly to the hotel’s specific situation. The sculpture is created with hard crafted oak, which honours the Butzenbüel, a small hill in parkland created as place of reflection near the airport buildings and the Circle complex.

Art piece showing sculpture of a circle

Image caption: A sculpture by Etienne Krähenbühl, which honours the Butzenbüel | Image credit: François Busson

In addition to installing bespoke artwork in hotels across Europe, Elegant Clutter’s influence can be found in all sorts of installations. A good example is inside the American Express lounge at Heathrow airport. Here the brand is working with Minty Sainsbury, a London based artist specialising in architectural pencil drawings. Having studied architecture at the University of Cambridge, graduating top of her year in 2013, she went on to work in a London architectural practice. But she soon discovered that the drawing board no longer has a place in the modern architectural office, so returned to the pencil with the intention of keeping the art of architectural drawing alive. Sainsbury’s work can be found in iconic hotels such as Gleneagles but having the opportunity to display her drawings where they will be seen by travellers from the world over was a first. She explains the inspiration behind this commission.

“Elegant Clutter wanted to capture London’s personality in two pictures that travellers from around the globe could relate to,” the artist explains. “So, I was asked to draw St Pauls which I have done many times and the Walkie Talkie, which was a first and a building I wouldn’t have thought of drawing if it hadn’t been for this commission. The two illustrations convey the classic and the contemporary side of  London perfectly.”

“I discovered Michelle’s Instagram account during lockdown and was captivated by her beautiful seascapes.” – Clare Howlett, artwork design manager at Elegant Clutter.

Howlett is constantly on the lookout for artists to collaborate with. This can be driven by the project brief, for example, researching local artists to tell a specific story with the art narrative, or discovering someone who has established a unique style and wants to extend their reach. Michelle Lucking is one such artist. She specialises in creating 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. In 2017, she won the prestigious Annie Longley Award at the annual British Pastel Society exhibition. She is also brand ambassador for the internationally acclaimed pastel company Unison Colour and now Elegant Clutter’s most recent artist signing.

Howlett explains how she connected with Lucking during lockdown: “I discovered Michelle’s Instagram account during lockdown and was captivated by her beautiful seascapes. We spoke on the phone and had an instant connection. She has an established following within the residential sector, so I can see the potential for her work being displayed in beautiful boutique hotels. It’s really exciting and rewarding to introduce new artists to the commercial sector.”

An art piece showing girl swimming in turquoise and orange bikini

Image caption: Cocktail series – tequila sunrise | Image credit: Michelle Lucking

Lucking’s work can already be found in private collections around the world. She told us why it was the right time to broaden her reach and why Elegant Clutter is the right fit for her: “I wanted to share my work with more people, but it was essential that I collaborated with a company who valued and supported independent artists. Elegant Clutter are true art custodians. I feel confident they have the skill in placing my work to enhance an interior space where it can connect to a new audience.”

Celebrating artist talent is something close Hotel Designs’ heart. Elegant Clutter is in a unique position where it can use its project management, installation skills and its knowledge on the fine art of storytelling to introduce new artists into the world of contract interiors – a precious responsibility to keep art alive in hospitality design.

Elegant Clutter is one of the brands that has taken advantage of our Industry Support Package. To keep up to date with supplier news, click here.

Main image credit: Tim Perceval

EDITOR CHECKS IN: Proud of diversity in British design

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
EDITOR CHECKS IN: Proud of diversity in British design

As the world focuses its attention on amplifying equality in all forms, editor Hamish Kilburn believes now is the time to break down why diversity in British design is something the industry should celebrate and be proud of…

We’ve come a long way, and although the journey hasn’t exactly been a seamless one, here we are in Britain in 2019 where we are free to love whoever we want. The next mission is now to work towards a society that campaigns for equal opportunities for all.

Our colourful industry, which is full to the brim of creative people, can be at the best of times a forceful catalyst for good and I believe, together, we can significantly do more than our bit in order for that dream to become a reality – and it starts here.

For a little more than a year now, since proudly joining the Hotel Designs editorial desk, I have tried perilously to understand what it is about the UK that makes it one of the major design destinations around the world. Despite its scale, Britain, the tiny little speck of land in the northern hemisphere, attracts the majority of the leading designers, hoteliers, architects and suppliers to train, flourish and go on to lead the industry forward into an innovative direction.

What Britain lacks in size it certainly makes up for in style, creativity and diversity. It’s no coincidence, therefore, that a large handful of the world’s most premium international design fairs, such as Sleep + Eat, 100% Design, Independent Hotel Show and London Design Festival, among many others, take place here.

Today, just two weeks after we officially opened nominations for The Brit List 2019, I’m seeing London from a completely unrivalled perspective – and it is a beautiful moment to witness. Peering over the edge of a rooftop bar, every colour of the rainbow is being amplified loudly on the streets below. As many as 1.5 million people have attended Pride London 2019, which is now being hailed the UK’s largest and most diverse Pride parade to date.

“By celebrating and supporting the concept of diversity – and by not oppressing original ideas that challenge convention – we can allow new thoughts to emerge.”

There’s an Albert Einstein quote that hangs on our office wall. It reads: “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” For some, it may signify the balance of designers, hoteliers, architects and suppliers thinking outside the box while also designing with purpose.  For me, though, it encourages one to take on a challenge and make it fun! That way, with the ability of adding your stamp to your work, you will not only throw intelligence at the problem, but also personality and individual ideas too.

This, I believe, is where the UK flourishes on the international design scene. By celebrating and supporting the concept of diversity – and by not oppressing original ideas that challenge convention – we can allow new thoughts to emerge and evolve, which, as a result, gives original concepts a nudge forward in the right direction. Jack Irving is the perfect example. The fashion designer who has worked with the likes of Lady Gaga and The Spice Girls has just completed his first interior design project. Irving’s commissioned work for W London has resulted in introducing our industry to new, unconventional materials. On the other hand there’s Zaha Hadid Architects, with its firm footprint as an industry leader, that is turning new architecture chapters, with the likes of Morpheus, that create new elegant dimensions.

The Brit List 2019, our annual awards event, is all about championing the most influential and inspirational designers, hoteliers, architects and suppliers. In order to keep the whole process as open as possible, we have ensured that applying for our nationwide search is completely free.

It’s been a varied and colorful month at the helm of Hotel Designs and I for one am proud of our fabulous team. We started our mini July tour in Manchester for Meet Up North, where more 150 of us celebrated creativity outside of the capital. One week later, we further bridged the gap between suppliers and procurement specialists with our highly engaging meet-the-buyers event, Hotel Summit, which allowed me the great honour of interviewing Marco Novello, the Managing Director of The Lanesborough, on stage in front of our live audience. A quick 24 hours in Dusseldorf, Germany, opened up the opportunity for us to speak to Michael Struck, the CEO of Ruby Hotels, as well as Matthew Bolan, the brand’s lead designer, in order to understand more about Ruby Hotels’ aggressive expansion, which includes its highly anticipated debut hotel in London next year.

In an industry full of leaders and visionaries, who are designing the cities of our future, it makes sense for us to also carve the path for others when it comes to celebrating diversity. Here are Hotel Designs, we are determined to continue to praise and offer a platform to people, projects, and plans on the boards that further challenge convention.

Be proud and apply for The Brit List 2019 for free today!

During August, Hotel Designs will be putting Hotel Concepts and Beds under the spotlight. If you would like to contribute to these topics, please do not hesitate to email me.

Editor, Hotel Designs

Main image credit: ACT Studios

In Conversation With: Moritz Waldemeyer, lighting designer to the stars

950 633 Hamish Kilburn

Lighting designer Moritz Waldemeyer speaks to editor Hamish Kilburn about 2019 trends, the power of lighting therapy and how one moment in time can dramatically change the direction of a creative’s career…  

Anyone who has had the pleasure to spend more than five minutes in the company of the multi-talented Moritz Waldemeyer will agree with me when I say that he is a breath of creative, fresh air. Despite having designed LED pieces for major players in popular culture such as music icons Ellie Goulding, WillIAm, Take That and fashion design hero Philip Treacy OBE, Waldemeyer’s head has always remained cool when working on many creative platforms.

Following a career-defining moment of lighting a costume collection for the closing ceremonies of both the 2016 Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games, Waldemeyer’s recent gaze in the hospitality industry saw him at the centre of many interesting conversations at London Design Festival last year. His personalised lighting installation entitled Journey of Colour at Focus18 raised eyebrows among designers from around the world on the potential of lighting within hotel design. “Timing is everything,” Waldemeyer says. “My knowledge of technology, which is an area that has always interested me, placed me in the design sphere with a unique skillset at the right time.”

WAVE chandelier in Intercontinental Davos, which is 1,400 hand-blown glass spheres swirl in a playful shape of a gust of snow,

Image caption: WAVE chandelier in Intercontinental Davos, which is 1,400 hand-blown glass spheres swirl in a playful shape of a gust of snow,

Waldemeyer’s journey in the world of fashion, design and lighting started with an early interest for technology. Following his studies on mechatronics at Kings College London, Waldemeyer began experimenting with his passion for lighting – and after graduating, he gained experience working for Phillips in the product development team. It was at this moment in time, while other employees were working the nine-to-five, when Waldemeyer started to experiment with lighting and its boundaries. His forward-thinking attitude soon sparked the attention of the fashion world, which led to what was arguably his first major career break.

Virtual Reality – Moritz Waldemeyer for Philip Treacy

Image caption: Virtual Reality – Moritz Waldemeyer for Philip Treacy

Paris Fashion Week 2007 witnessed Hussein Chayalan showcase dresses impregnated with servo-driven lasers that were engineered and programmed by Waldemeyer. With the aim to create a sensational atmosphere that captured the attention of the world’s media, Chayalan turned to Waldemeyer to emit laser beams from the dresses on the models who strutted spectacularly down the catwalk. “It’s a great, indescribable feeling to be part of fashion history,” Waldemeyer shares. “And it was after this show I realised just how revolutionary this was when figures in the music industry got in touch asking me how I could work with them to create visual experiences.”

“I am looking at animated lighting, which is super retro and exciting.”

Waldemeyer’s dip into the world of high-fashion, I believe, gives him a unique leverage when it comes to helping to transform lighting within hotel interior design spaces. But when it comes to looking ahead, it seems as if Waldemeyer is left wondering like the rest of us what defines a ‘trend’. “It’s really difficult to look at trends on a year-by-year basis, because I believe that the development isn’t that fast in lighting,” he comments. “However, from my point of view, we have yet to establish the limits of LED potential. I am looking at animated lighting, which is super retro and exciting.”

Flos presented this stunning collaborative project during the Milan Salone 2009 which involved no less than 5 well known contributors: design by Philippe Starck, text by Jenny Holzer, execution by Flos, crystal by Baccarat and custom electronic design by Moritz Waldemeyer.

Image caption: Flos presented this stunning collaborative project during the Milan Salone 2009 which involved no less than five well known contributors: design by Philippe Starck, text by Jenny Holzer, execution by Flos, crystal by Baccarat and custom electronic design by Moritz Waldemeyer.

Following on from our insight into how the public areas of hotels are changing, there has been many debates about how the lobby and the guestroom can continue to evolve into new eras. Technology within lighting has unlocked the door to welcome in the opportunity of more atmospheric areas within the hotel, which is arguably the key to create the personalised hotel of the future. “Considering that the lobby is the first area that guests walk in to, I believe there is room for designers to be more playful,” he explains. “When it comes to the guestroom, though, I believe we as lighting experts need to ensure that we are creating intuitive lighting that works with the user. It’s a challenge to ensure we are creating seamless lighting experiences that don’t hinder the overall guest experience. It’s sometimes easy to forget when working on large pieces to view the experience from a guests’ point of view, but this is so important when it comes to the design of the lighting.”

“We deliberately use a lot of colour, which is arguably therapeutic with the aim to bring people back to themselves.”

One area within the interior design of hotels that continues to divide opinions is understanding the fundamental purpose of lighting in the guestroom. While designers aim to firmly establish lighting’s functional properties as well as its decorative qualities within the guestroom, there are questions rippling through the industry on how wellbeing can be incorporated within hotel design, and Waldemeyer may have the answer. He explains: “We deliberately use a lot of colour, which is arguably therapeutic with the aim to bring people back to themselves. Art pieces that use light to encourage calmness ­– similar to watching a roaring open fire – somewhat sedates the tone of the room and the guests’ minds. Using colour in this way has the complete opposite reaction to what happens when we as consumers stare mindlessly at our phones or devices.”

Moritz Waldemeyer's personalised lighting installation, Journey of Colour, was exhibited at Focus 18.

Image caption: Moritz Waldemeyer’s personalised lighting installation, Journey of Colour, was exhibited at Focus 18.

Waldemeyer strikes me as someone who is constantly looking ahead to establish new ways to be creative with lighting. “I’m excited about craftsmanship, which is really big on our agenda at the moment,” says Waldemeyer. “Travelling the world has allowed me to establish new avenues and my task at the moment is to understand how we can present traditional craftsmanship in lighting to a modern audience, which is challenging but also so rewarding at the same time.”

Waldemeyer’s own ‘journey of colour’ is, I believe, still in the very early stages when establishing what is possible within the future of commercial lighting. I leave the creative with focused lenses, now being able to zoom in to understand further the emotional links between our minds and how our hotels are lit. One of the largest conclusions, though, is seeing how outside influences, from areas such as fashion and popular music, can absolutely shed some light on the direction our industry should be heading when it comes to forward-thinking an innovation.

Moritz Waldemeyer Studio is one of our recommended suppliers. To keep up to date with their news, click here. And, if you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, click here.

Main image credit: Moritz Waldemeyer Studio