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Artists: modern influencers of hospitality

Hoteliers who want non-conformity, originality and customization are increasingly working with artists, who are most likely to embody these values. A look at a few concepts that could shape the future trends of hospitality in the 21st century.

Modern hospitality features rising and increasingly diverse customer expectations. It is thus not difficult to understand why hoteliers have been trying out new practices, have introduced innovative concepts or reinvented services in order to create a unique environment within their properties and go beyond industry standards.

More specifically, the 'artistic' inspiration behind hotels' design, location or even their concept as a whole, illustrates the need for innovation and novelty in the hospitality business.

A good example can be found at the door of a property imagined by two Swiss artists, Frank and Patrik Riklin. The twins first converted a bunker into a hotel, and received numerous bookings. They thus decided to develop their 'Null Stern' concept (in German, it means 'zero star') with the mantra 'The only star is you'. Their success peaked when they set up a double-bed in the heart of the Swiss Alps. Without walls, or roof: just a bed, nature and - of course - butler service to please guests. That's pretty much it.



It is also a thing that an art gallery turns into a hotel, or the other way round. This is anyway the concept that the hotel chain 21c Museum Hotel pursues - and it already operates 7 properties in the US. Founded by Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson, it aims at "energizing a community" and "being used as an agent for positive change". Hence each destination means to be an exhibition.

Another - more surprising - example is the IceHotel located in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden. Yngve Bergqvist, its founder, started the project when he invited artists from all over the world to sculpt local ice; out of which he set up an art gallery named ARTic Hall, in 1990. During the exhibition, a group of guests asked to spend the night at the gallery - a thrilling experience - hence the birth of the IceHotel idea. Since then, dozens of artists come to Sweden to reshape the hotel rooms every time.



When artists do not provide hoteliers with a brand new concept themselves, they may as well collaborate with them specifically to tackle layout, design, furniture issues. This is the case for instance of the 'Arts Appliqués' graduate Julie Gauthron who designed in 2012 the 'Exquise Esquisse' suite at the Hôtel Crayon, in Paris, inspired from kids' coloring papers. Another example comes from the famous (and mysterious) Banksy, a British street artist wo decorated the Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem. The hotel itself is an artistic exhibition with various committed works such as a jacuzzi with bullet holes, angels wearing gas masks... for a general pacifist view in the context of the Israel-Plestine conflict. The property is self-proclaimed 'the worst view of any hotel in the world' as every room gives a glimpse over the separation wall, only 4 meters away from the building.



And there's more: we also saw the launch of comic-themed hotels (as Berlin's The Art Luise Kunsthotel), others inviting their guests to step into a cinema set (like The Georgian House Hotel, in London, which looks exactly like a Harry Potter dormitory), others even inspired by music and history (take Liverpool's Hard Days Night Hotel, dedicated to the Beatles)... Right, hospitality features all genres of art, from the most mainstream to the most specialist, from the most serious to the funniest.



Obviously, it would be way too much work to list here all hotels who already worked together with artists. May it be to originalize their concept, give their properties a better look or even shed light on a project - hoteliers have widely understood that an artistic touch was not only an added value that could favour the demand, but also an excellent marketing tool to boost word-of-mouth surrounding the whole project. The French artist Ben had for instance collaborated with the Logis communication campaign in 2011, which shows that their input is not only limited to design or achitecture. Their expertise is very likely to become a real must-have within an industry striving for creativity, originality and novelty, where every property turns into a blank canvas.



Finally, when artists do not directly collaborate to set up a hospitality project, it can be useful to just picture them as potential customers so as to design new concepts: Mariott International has for instance recently unveiled a brand new suite equipped with a recording studio for bands stopping by at the W Hollywood.



To conclude: may it be libary hotels in Japan, properties managed by robots or a project of underwater hotel deep down Cuban waters, hoteliers have come to realize that originality was all it took to get a large market share from curious visitors and out-of-the-ordinary-hotels enthusiasts.

Artists can inspire, design, be architects or decorators, sometimes all of them in a single person - and they seem to have the wind in their sails to get acceptance within the hospitality business featuring a need for fresh ideas and concepts. French architect Jean-Philippe Nuel, who talked during the latest edition of the Global Lodging Forum in April 2017, stated: "There is not just a single trend. First, a project must be coherent in a general way, with an aim to renew the codes. With this new diversity, a hotel is interesting when there is a deep meaning behind it."

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