Showcasing New York design
A place where business travelers stay and local creative talent showcase their work to peers.

Solution


Tablet; A place where business travelers stay and local creative talent showcase their work to peers. A hotel where visitors cross path with New Yorkers interested in art, fashion, design and architecture. This is accomplished through exhibitions in the entrance hall.

People already stay at hotels. Galleries already exhibit art, and visitors already visit these exhibitions. New Yorkers already meet in hotel lobby bars for a drink (something quite unique to New York).

This contest entry proposes to combine these functions in one big area.



Design considerations

Design-wise the hotel entrance will be one big space with a light wooden path to the clearly visible hotel desk at the end with the brightly lit hotel name (so the visitor knows he is in fact entering a hotel). To the left and right of the path to the hotel desk are exhibit areas in white cube style; brushed polished grey concrete floors and white walls with art on display, and New Yorkers who came for the exhibition.

Space is at a premium in New York so all walls are removed. This also opens the space up so every one can see every one. This is the space where visitors meet locals, and cross paths with them. The small space will actually be a benefit because the exhibition area will feel alive with even a few visitors. The place is a small boutique hotel with only one or two dozen rooms or so in the back so the hotel guests often feel they are the only ones among the exhibition visitors.

The entrance hall has high ceilings and feels open. To the left and right of the hotel desk are stairs that lead to the lobby bar above the hotel desk. Visitors can have a drink up there and look at the locals on the lower level. The hotel desk is hidden below them. It is always fun to watch people while having a drink!

The floor of the back of the hall, at the hotel desk, is also of light wood. The walls have warmer colors. Next to the hotel desk is the entrance door to the elevators and hotel rooms. The spaces (halls and rooms) in the hotel itself are smaller, cozier, and the colors are warmer, homelier. In contrast, the colors in the main entrance hall/exhibition area are gray and white so it feels more like a public area inviting people in from the street and allowing the artwork on display to shine. In a sense it is a transition area from the gray street, visually, while yielding to the colorful artwork on display, to the warm and cozy hotel in the back.

The exhibition area will actually double as decoration for the hotel entrance.



Visitor stories

Hotel guest: the more affluent traveler who can spend on a five-star hotel in downtown New York, or the business man who is visiting. He needs a place to stay in downtown Manhattan. He and she can be a business owners or have successful careers. They can be in their 40s.

Curator: several curators can work part-time for the hotel. They are affiliated with local galleries and so they know the New York scene and tastes well. They occasionally find a young upcoming artist they admire but whose work doesn't fit with the gallery, or any non-commercial exhibition (the works on display should not be on sale). One can think of showing the development in the work of local fashion designers (during New York fashion design week), architects or illustrators, or the concept art that was developed for animated films or advertisements, or fanzines during fanzine week, local artists or any kind of design (for example furniture, industrial, book, logo or typography design). The exhibitions can change every month so New Yorkers interested in art know they can visit it regularly and see something new. For that, probably the hotel needs to be affiliated with several curators and/or galleries.

Local creative talent: the young artist who isn't represented by a gallery yet, or who is up and coming in a creative industry can benefit from more exposure. He'll also spread word of mouth and get friends and colleagues to visit. His work will be shown for free in a prime location, but he can't sell work, just display his worl. The development of an artist for example can be shown in this place. His young creative hipster appearance will contrast with that of the wealthier and older hotel visitors. He and his peers will bring a young vibe to the hotel.

Art appreciator: New Yorkers who enjoy seeing regular new (non-commercial) exhibitions of contemporary work visit the hotel often as the exhibitions change regularly. They can have a drink in the hotel lobby bar above the hotel desk afterward.

Risk/reward

I believe this is a low-risk idea (a room with white walls and wooden and concrete floor) with big upside potential (internationally acclaimed exhibitions). Good curation and a feel for local sensibilities of the art and design appreciator crowd will be crucial for its success.

In order for hotel guests to cross paths with New Yorkers, these busy fast-paced New Yorkers need a reason to be in this hotel in the first place and I believe this exhibition idea can be that.

The worst-case is the hotel lobby is decorated with beautiful art and design objects. Such an exhibition would likely fit well in the ambiance of a five star hotel.

I recently visited a garden exhibition showcasing work by artists in that neighborhood. These artists had invited family and friends (me among them) and it was quite busy. If this had been in a hotel lobby I'd have gone too, so I know from experience that the above proposal can work.

Equivalent hotels
I've stayed at a few five star hotels and I believe an art exhibition could work well in such an environment.

I was inspired in various ways by the following hotels:

Benesse Art House in Naoshima, Japan: this is a boutique hotel inside a stunning museum building designed by Tadao Ando. The art work is specifically designed for that museum, and hotel guests can wander through the beautiful museum after closing hours (as their room is inside the museum). It doesn't meet the contest requirements because the site is about the Tadao Ando building and not about people meeting. As there are only a few guests, you often walk through the museum alone at night (which is an amazing experience but doesn't match the contest requirements).

Portrait Suites Rome, Lungarno Suites Florence: these lovely small boutique hotels have the same feel as proposed in this entry; cool gray and white combined with yellow ochre tints for warmth, and beautiful art and design pieces on the wall. A difference with this proposal is that these boutique hotels are not open to locals, nor do they exhibit work by local creative talent, and they don't have a lobby bar. These hotels are all about an exclusive and secluded experience, wonderful places of calm and rest in a busy city center. They are not about meeting locals though.

Soho Grand: well-known hotel in New York, has a lively lobby bar where New Yorkers go for a drink. It doesn't have art/design exhibitions as proposed in this entry, and the scale is a bit too big. This contest entry envisions a smaller boutique hotel, hopefully with a lobby bar that is as lively as the one from Soho Grand.