How do you feel when you walk into a museum? Specifically, exhibits with artwork and paintings and furnishings from a particular culture on display.
Do you feel intrigued? Wow-ed? Impressed? Intimidated? Do you feel afraid that you will break something? Are you itching to stare into that tarnished, exquisite-looking mirror, or try sitting in that unusual looking seat?It’s strange to think that the ancient artefacts and artworks you see in museums and art galleries were probably created with the intention of decorating someone’s home, space or venue whether that was a palace, a village hut or a Victorian-era townhouse. These items came to represent the time and place they were made to furnish, and they do such a good job of creating palpable atmosphere that they live on in museums and art galleries to tell their stories for generations to experience.
Interior design isn’t a modern invention.
It might feel extra to think of your hotel, motel, resort, or other accom property in the same way you think about a museum but there are similarities. We’re talking about a space that lots of different sorts of people are going to frequent, from lots of different sorts of cultures. Those people are looking to experience a story or, at the very least, an atmosphere when they walk into that space. They want to feel compelled to blog about it, talk about it to their family and friends, take photos while they are there. They want to feel like thought has been put into it; like there’s a style if not a theme; a vibe if not a show. Most importantly, many of the items you see in museums and art galleries would have been custom-made for specific interiors; paintings were ordered to fill exact spaces, tapestries, rugs, sculptures, cabinets, chairs and all types of items were specially crafted for individual rooms or people. The same should apply to your property.
In ancient Egypt, for example, rush matting was used to decorate walls and spaces in different patterns; archaeologists found all kinds of luxurious items and artistic furnishings when they uncovered tombs in Egypt and many people believe that tomb decorations around the world reflect elements of what domestic interior design looked like in respective ancient cultures. Ceramic tilework, friezes and limestone carvings were used in Mesopotamian palaces to decorate with brightly lit colours and intricate patterns.
Colour still plays a huge role in decorating interiors today. Architects still focus on light and shade when they blueprint buildings, and designers do everything they can to play with colour and light when they furnish space. Wall murals and custom hangings or tapestries are some of the many things modern designers can organise to suit a property style, create a desired atmosphere or inject a focal point. If a room is naturally warm and brightly lit, colder colours might create a breezier feeling for incoming guests. Like the ancient Mesopotamians, you could draw inspiration from local animals and include sea-life in the artwork, or create a beachy theme to give visitors a clear sense of Aussie culture when they step inside your resort lobby.
Alternatively, a busy high-rise hotel could deck out a dimly lit, tight communal space with things reflect what ‘city-life’ means for Australians. Perhaps paintings or photography depicting cyclists, market-goers or people riding trams on their way to work. I went to a cinema in Europe once where all the seats were repurposed from public transport. Could you have a refurbished tram bench in your lobby or lift hallway? Think outside the box!
Take a walk around the area your property is in and make a note of sightseeing spots, animals, types of trees and landscaping, sounds and smells. These are all things you can bring to the table when working with an interior designer to personalise your accom space. Is your town famous for something? Spend five minutes googling local history and you might be surprised about what inspires you.
Damn, this is awesome
With the right vision and some expertise when it comes to lighting, artwork and accessories, there’s no limit to the impact your property’s first impression can have on guests. The great news too, is that if you have a relatively original concept, or some original pieces – a one-off piece of art or stand-out item of furniture – you can’t go too far wrong. Even if a guest hates it, they’ll talk about. Think about what paintings you discuss with friends after visiting an art gallery: probably the ones that caught your attention and made you feel like you were experiencing something new. That’s exactly how you want guests to respond to your property!
So don’t be afraid to be different: trends are there to be bucked. Experts can help you tastefully harness what’s popular and produce something unique to you and your brand.
If you want every single room and area to have its own vibe or theme or experience, a bespoke fit-out and installation is probably what you need. Experts who specialise in bespoke arrangements will be able to curate every detail you need specific to every nook and cranny of your establishment. Particularly noticeable in boutique hotels and quirkier properties that market themselves as off-the-wall and encourage repeat guests with the assertion that every room offers a completely new staycation.
If you want a more complete fit-out that standardises, to some extent at least, the guest experience across all rooms then the turn-key solution is probably what you are looking for. This solution comes in a variety of ways to suit all types of budgets and custom requirements. The main thing with this solution is that you will have one point-of-contact who oversees the design and installation end-to-end.
With either approach, it is paramount that guests are prioritised when installations are taking place. You might want to offer in-room treats or discounts to
anyone likely to be plagued by noise or disruption. Even better, reputable companies that offer solutions will work with you so that they can carry out installations without having any impact on guests.
Understanding the value that unique contemporary art adds to hotels and accommodation is the crucial knowledge gap we need to bridge but the industry is catching up.
It’s no longer just luxury hotels that are investing in art and when I say ‘invest’ I don’t necessarily mean buying artworks that will appreciate in value. It’s an investment in your guests’ experience. While mass-produced decorative art often serves a necessary purpose, original art is an obvious signifier of the love and care poured into a property and helps to tell an interesting narrative.
People are choosing personality over corporate consistency and sterile grandeur. They seek cultural immersion, even in their own guestrooms, and accommodation should be a memorable attraction.
Many accommodation managers also don’t realise how affordable this alternative is. The online revolution in the art market over the last few years has unlocked so much incredible art that simply wasn’t available before, as less than one percent of artists’ output was being shown in bricks and mortar galleries.
“Our free art advisory service is extremely popular: we’ve helped fit-out everything from new trendy apartments for millennials in Saint Kilda, to aged care homes in Far North Queensland,” said Bluethumb director, Edward Hartley.
Curating a collection can be overwhelming for inexperienced buyers. Thinking of a concept; matching art with the interior design of a space and finding works that not only compliment the styling but also each other, is surprisingly time-consuming and difficult. It’s a challenge we love though.
We give industry discounts and professional curatorial guidance for our huge selection of artworks, making it an efficient, affordable way to refresh your décor and make your accommodation memorable and culturally immersive.
“We provide an end-to-end service and offer help and advice along the way. From hanging and storage to preservation and restoration, we have contacts and knowledge.
“Experienced art consultants, like our team at Bluethumb, will know which questions to ask and keep the conversation flowing until they’ve garnered enough to begin the process. It can take some time and articulating taste is not always easy, so it’s a good idea to do a bit of research and bring some examples of the style and artists you like to the table.
“Be sure about your budget from the beginning to avoid any surprises.”
Architect my heart
There’s something magical about a building that has been artfully designed. It’s the difference between demolishing a site to completely rebuild, and refurbishing a historical building to accentuate old charm. Both have their pros and cons, but the latter offers something particularly unique and is something that lends itself particularly well to interior design.
Getting, or staying, in touch with builders and architects can be a huge benefit when looking at a refurbishment as no-one knows the property better (except, perhaps, you). They’ll be able to offer advice or liaise with interior designers on layout and design, as well as what materials were used and why. This can be immensely helpful with things like lighting, which is influenced by so many things… Ceiling height, woodwork, tiling, brick or stonework, window placement, to name but a few.
If you’re looking at organising the fit-out of a new build, make sure all the different parties are in communication and working together so that the property’s overall aesthetic is intentional, rather than a (potentially un-)happy accident.