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- 15 Jan 2014
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Luxury Hotels Leverage Craze for Contemporary Art

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Corinthia London launched its Artist in Residence program in 2011


Contemporary art is all the range in the luxury hospitality industry, as hoteliers seek further points of differentiation in increasingly saturated marketplaces.

The luxury industry has long shared clients with the art world. The select few who can afford to invest in the finest wines and timepieces, or haute couture and fine jewellery, are often the same select few who invest in the works of iconic painters and objets d’art.

The world of passion investing inspires somewhat dated images of luxury, of classic cars or rare instruments, of historical paintings or obscure collections of stamps and coins. And whilst this world certainly still exists, it has been interesting to witness a shift towards the contemporary art world by luxury brands, in a bid to attract the attention of the next generation of consumers.

Though fashion and art have long been bedfellows, the craze seem to have started in 2002, when Marc Jacobs first invited Stephen Sprouse to re-interpret Louis Vuitton’s monogram, sparking a craze for ‘graffiti’ accessories which brought the artist to a global – and not necessarily art educated – audience. In the decade past the links have only intensified.


 The influence of contemporary art on advertising has never been so strongly felt 


Louis Vuitton alone has gone on to collaborate on collections with Takashi Murakami, Richard Prince, Damien Hirst, Yayoi Kusama and tattoo-artist Scott Campbell. Similar collaborations have passed throughout LVMH’s stable: Anselm Reyle with Dior, Kaws and Futura with Hennessey, Jeff Koons with Dom Perignon and Damien Hirst with Alexander McQueen, to name a few.

And indeed these collaborations – and their lavish launch parties – allow the brands to transverse traditional luxury or fashion specific media, reaching well into tabloid fodder and dedicated tomes to contemporary art.

As the International NY Times recently mused, At Art Basel Miami Beach, (luxury brands are) Squeezing Art Out of the Picture. For houses such as Chanel, Moncler, Louis Vuitton and Dior, this fair in particular represents a prime opportunity for publicity and to connect with the audience expected to fuel luxury consumption in the future.


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Anselm Reyle for Dior


Art as a marketing tool is nothing new, but perhaps the influence of contemporary art on advertising has never been so strongly felt. As the NY Times explains: “artworks and artists are increasingly becoming elements of advertising campaigns… for products and services seeking to reach consumers in their 20s and 30s who are already making art part of their lives."

For the same consumers who are busy making luxury party of their lives, it is a collaboration strategy that is increasingly important to consider for brands working outside of the fashion and accessories space. And this next wave of moves and shakes is coming from luxury hotels, beyond big name architects or designers conceptualising space.

There are of course numerous examples in the hotel world, of commissioning or exhibiting key works in a bid to expose properties to a wider collection of consumers. Tracy Emin and Matt Collishaw can be found at the Dean Street Town House in London’s Soho. Le Méridien has its own cultural curator in Jérome Sans, who has recruited a 100 strong group of creative innovators, including painters and photographers, to build on the guest experience (Pearlfisher).


 Work by Tracy Emin can be found at the Dean Street Town House in London 


Though design forms an integral part of the luxury hotel proposition, crafting genuine contemporary art experiences or initiatives for luxury hotel brands is not necessarily easy. Consumers expect more from brands these days than merely signing cheques to sponsor exhibitions or hanging a small collection of paintings on their walls.

And to their credit, a handful of luxury hotel brands are realising that consumers these days only pay attention to truly integrated and inspired collaborations, which don’t always have immediately identifiable links to profitability or even occupancy.

Where contemporary art is instead being called upon, is in establishing a brand position of patronage and taste, following in the footsteps of Fondation Cartier or Fondation Louis Vuitton. Luxury hotel brands are beginning to realise the potential of discovering and nurturing a new wave of talent, and, the impact this support can have on their own image as arbiters of taste.


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45 Park Lane has also developed an array of art specific services


As London makes moves to be both the financial and cultural capital of the world, it’s no surprise to see deepening links between its iconic art galleries, artists and luxury hotels.

At the Corinthia London – self described to offer ‘state-of-the-art 21st Century luxury’, this is an Artist in Residence program, devised in 2011 to capitalise on the hotel’s unique position geographically at the crossroads of some of London’s most significant cultural organisations.

Each year an artist from a different discipline – art, theatre, film, fashion, design, literature – is chosen by a panel of judges to create work in response to their residency. Conceived in partnership with Arts Co, the aim was to build this cultural profile into the DNA of the hotel.


 Corinthia London launched an Artist in Residence program in 2011 


“Not just an old writer sitting in a garret suite, fuelled by time at the hotel bar to write poems in praise of the hotel,” explains Isabella Macpherson of Arts Co, curators of the program. “A different type of Artist in Residence program; a situation where an artist really responded and captured the spirit of the hotel and brand to create unique experiences for guests.”

Le Méridien is taking an educational approach, collaborating with Tate to promote public understanding and enjoyment of British, modern and contemporary art. ‘Unlock Art’ is a series of eight short films, with topics ranging from the history of the nude to humour, performance to pop art, presenting all the need-to-know facts.

“Le Méridien is a forward-looking, design-led lifestyle brand and we aim to provide a new perspective to our guests through a curated approach to culture,” explains Brian Povinelli, Global Brand Leader, Le Méridien and Westin. “The Unlock Art film series will help make art more accessible to the culturally curious in a warm, informal way with an occasional dash of humour.”


Alan Cumming presents Pop Art for Unlock Art


The film project is an extension of the hoteliers Unlock Art program, which offers guests complimentary access to contemporary cultural centres around the world, through local partnerships with leading institutions.

The Dorchester Collection’s 45 Park Lane has also developed an array of art specific services for its guests, including personal exhibition tours by artists themselves and the opportunity to take painting lessons with artists and gain access to their personal studios.

The Mayfair location houses permanent works in the restaurant, guest rooms and corridors, but also holds a series of intimate and exclusive temporary exhibitions and displays. The most recent of which was a Christmas themed collection of prints by iconic British Pop Artist, Sir Peter Blake.


 Park Hyatt has joined the publishing game, launching online contemporary art magazine ARTPHAIRE 


Park Hyatt has joined the publishing game, launching online contemporary art magazine ARTPHAIRE in partnership with BOND Strategy and Influence. Dedicated to bringing art enthusiasts the finest editorial content, ARTPHAIRE will provide original perspectives from the world’s leading artists, collectors and museums.

“The Park Hyatt brand has invested in world-class contemporary art, architecture and design since the first Park Hyatt hotel opened in Chicago more than 30 years ago,” according to Katherine Melchior Ray, Vice President of Luxury Brands for Hyatt Hotels & Resorts.

“Creating this new, innovative and relevant online magazine allows us to express our passion for the arts beyond our hotel walls and share Park Hyatt’s proud legacy of art excellence,” she continued. The hotelier will also collaborate with Sotheby’s to provide readers with behind-the-scenes access to the biggest art shows and auctions of the season.


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Park Hyatt’s ARTPHAIRE Digital Magazine


“Although bringing art and marketing together is becoming more widely accepted,” according to the International NY Times, “the biggest risk remains doing it in a manner that is deemed cheesy, tacky or too commercial by the intended audience.”

And with authenticity forming such an integral part of luxury branding, luxury hotels must take considered steps to ensure their commitment to the arts and the contemporary art world means more than meaningless exhibitions or champagne fuelled PR purposed events.

But as hotel guests demand more holistic experiences than ever before, the opportunity to gain private access to galleries, collections and artists themselves may just be a compelling point of differentiation when choosing to book accommodation in the world’s cultural capitals.

As the luxury world becomes more and more integrated, we expect much new and creative collaboration between these fields.





To further investigate the art of collaboration on Luxury Society, we invite your to explore the related materials as follows:

- The Art Collaboration: Old Masters to New Blood