Our HD Conversations on the show floor of HD Expo have always been an attendee favorite, so this year we decided to take the informal panel discussion on the road. After a successful CitySCENE event in Dallas, I hopped a plane to Miami for Art Basel and our first branded HD Conversations away from the tradeshow.
I was hoping for sunny Miami weather, but instead was greeted by 86 percent humidity and rain—and lots of it. Think monsoon and you have a perfect picture. And traffic. Probably more traffic than rain and the two of them weren’t helping each other. To give perspective, Uber was charging 9.9 times for a cab, and people were taking it because of, yes, you guessed it, the rain.
Even with all of these out of our control factors, we had a great turnout at the Aloft South Beach and a lively, HG Arts-sponsored discussion on the importance of art in hospitality with Julie Frank, Le Méridien; Jesse MacDougall, ICRAVE; Teddy Mayer, Virgin Hotels; and Lauren Rottet, Rottet Studio.
With such a broad topic, there was a lot to discuss. The big picture idea: art is more important than it ever has been to create that authentic, local experience, and to complete the overall design story.
As we dove more into the topic, Frank revealed that for Le Méridien, the brand promise is to “unlock the destination” and the art is one way that happens—contextualized installations and pieces that capture the context in unique ways and reveal something about the destination to the guest, many times utilizing a local artist. For instance, in the New Orleans property by Meyer Davis, a video installation loops at the entry, which showcases an artist walking through New Orleans with a blue trunk on his back collecting and experiencing moments of his history and his family’s legacy in the city. The same blue trunks and suitcases hang overhead in the hotel, and throughout the property items seen in the film are curated as installations, bringing the film and city into the space.
MacDougall touched on his exciting challenge of finding all Dutch artists for ICRAVE’s newest project, the Sir Adam in Amsterdam, which thanks to its location in the A’DAM Toren, the new epicenter of the music and entertainment industry, will have an edgy, music-inspired vibe; MacDougall also brought virtual reality glasses for attendees to see how this new technology can be another tool for design.
Mayer explained that Virgin uses art to really integrate the hotel into the community and for the brand’s first location in Chicago, started an Artist in Residence Collective in collaboration with BucketFeet (a shoe company that works with 20,000 artists in 100 countries). The first was street artist Nina Palomba, whose three custom pieces were on display and for sale in the hotel’s Commons Club. Based on votes from guests and locals alike, one was chosen as the inspiration for a new shoe design.
And no one knows the importance of art more than Rottet, who was hired solely as the art consultant for the Langham in Chicago. She said the key to this project was making sure she really understand the designers intention for the various spaces, so the art she selected could integrate not only with the history of the storied building (it was one of the last buildings by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and she met with his grandson as well) and Chicago, but also the overall aesthetic of the hotel.
Thanks to everyone who came out to support, to HG Arts for helping put on this wonderful event, and to Drambuie and Reyka for the specialty cocktails. We hope it is the first of many.