Gone are the days of static pastel prints in bulky frames. The nature of hotel art has morphed along with evolving design trends, becoming an integral part of a property’s overall esthetic. The works featured in hotels now take a variety of forms — from photos to large-scale installations — often showcasing local talent.
When outfitting Hyatt’s Andaz Ottawa Byward Market with artwork, GM Matt Graham and his team turned to the Canada Council Art Bank — a branch of the Canada Council for the Arts which allows government and corporate clients to rent visual artworks by emerging and established Canadian artists — to source works, including photos and sculptures. The hotel’s collection of 85 pieces was curated by the Art Bank of Canada and approved by the design team from Mason Studio, Claridge Homes (the hotel’s owner and developer) and Graham.
Graham explains that working with Art Bank of Canada was extremely helpful given that each floor of the hotel is dedicated to Canadian geography. “We have 13 floors of guestrooms and each floor is named for one of the provinces or territories of Canada and all of the artwork on each floor is sourced from that province or territory,” he says. “When you get to Nunavut, it would be hard for me to find artwork [on my own], but they have it all because they’ve been running this organization for so long.”
In addition to these works, Andaz Ottawa also features pieces from two Ottawa-based artists — Drew Mosley and Alexander Laquerre. And, the buck doesn’t stop there. The property also features a number of custom, needle-felted wall coverings created by Toronto-based Creative Matters Inc. These pieces form the focal points in guestrooms and the elevator lobbies on each guest floor also feature a mural highlighting the floor’s theme region. “It’s all a kind of celebration of that capital identity that Ottawa has,” Graham notes.
The hotel’s public spaces are also well outfitted with artwork from Art Bank of Canada. “The first and second floor is mostly black-and-white photography — some of it very specific, some of it very [abstract].” Although the design of the hotel’s rooftop lounge, Copper Spirits + Sights, is largely centred on the view, it also features an installation by Toronto-based Crow Art Design Build. Graham describes the work as “a cool installation of birds, made out of copper, that are sort of flying across the ceiling…almost like you’re in the tree tops.”
Recognizing that hotel art has become a much more integral part of overall hotel design, Realstar Hospitality is currently in the midst of creating a library of artwork for the Days Inn brand in Canada. “We’re actually putting together a complete library of images that properties can select from. The reason for doing that is to create a consistent look and feel and a consistent level of quality across the brand,” explains Irwin Prince, president & COO of Realstar Hospitality, master franchisor of Days Inn in Canada. “We’re using designers and art consultants to cull through imagery from across the country — looking at image banks and, in some cases, original art.”
Though it’s still early in its development, Prince characterizes the new standard for artwork at Days Inn properties as offering more flexibility and freedom within the design, with a wider range of formats and sizes that offer a departure from a traditional framed image. The use of murals and wall vinyl on highlight walls is another avenue being explored for the brand. Overall, he predicts the standard guestroom (including the bathroom) will feature two or three pieces of artwork.
“In the public spaces we’re looking at larger works,” Prince adds. “Typically we’re doing [those] under Plexiglas and we’re looking at a tryptic piece (a panel piece divided into three sections) for behind the front desk across all hotels. It will be different images [at each hotel], but the intent is to evoke an emotion through the image so that it’s not just filling space on the wall.” More specifically, he indicates the brand is considering featuring images with a sun theme to tie into the Days Inn logo.
“We’re paying much more attention to the geography [of each hotel], to the specific art that fits into that geography and to the story we are trying to portray to the guests, so the guest has a greater appreciation for the art that’s on the wall,” Prince explains.
LE MÉRIDIEN VERSAILLES
When Le Méridien Versailles in Montreal underwent renovations in 2016, art played an important role in the hotel’s transformation. “Many teams worked together to create this spectacular renovation and art program,” explains Nina Toia, assistant general manager, Le Méridien Versailles. “Le Méridien brand executives and design team, Tidan (the hotel’s owner), interior designers and the hotel-management teams all gathered to find the perfect pieces for our artwork.”
A key focus when selecting works to feature was the hotel’s efforts to “unlock the destination” of Montreal for its guests. As part of this initiative, the property features works by local artists inspired by the surrounding area in its lobby area. “Having a guest exposed to local art and history is a platform which allows the hotel to make a connection with the traveller from the moment they arrive,” says Toia.
To this end, the hotel’s lobby features metal grid work behind the front desk, which recreates an aerial view of Montreal. A similar pattern is also featured on the ceiling — focusing on the area surrounding the hotel. A large painting by local artist Adlan Kaezar also features prominently in the space, depicting the Montreal skyline, overlaid by a geometric pattern inspired by the flooring of the original Bank of Montreal.
“There are dozens of art pieces in the hotel, plus many carefully chosen objects d’art that contribute to the overall décor,” explains Toia. “We wanted the artwork to be inspired by the city of Montreal. We also contacted local artists to find art that spoke of Montreal’s history, culture, and topography…Through the artwork chosen, we are able to tell the story of our city, [which is] filled with history and rich culture.”