Standing on the shoulders of giants
Art in hotel interiors is usually understood as a decorative element.
As temporary homes, hotels give the impression of being inhabited permanently by recreating certain gestures, which we all make in our own apartments. Therefore, nice pictures on the walls, neutral photographies in rough frames, and occasional instances of so-called “corporate sculpture” constitute permanent elements of the landscape for people visiting cities all around the world. You may call it a definition of neutrality, whereas those who visit international hotel fairs may encounter companies producing such works on a mass scale. It is understandable. It is neither easy nor cheap to equip a hotel with four hundred rooms so that every single room has a unique work of art in it, which fulfils specific criteria of neutrality at the same time.
At the turn of the 21st century, so-called art hotels, that is facilities which headed in a drastically different direction, started to appear in various places. In an art hotel, we do not sleep in a room, we sleep in works of art. For such places, the eccentricity of art becomes a marketing value on which they build their strategy. Recently, the Internet has been flooded with revelations that one of the hotels in Las Vegas is to make a hotel suite designed entirely by Damien Hirst available to its guests. A night with the artist’s works of art surrounding you is supposed to cost USD 100,000. However, such places are rare and are more of a destination itself, not only an element of a trip.
There are few places where such two concepts meet. In order to function, be effective and build values, art must have appropriate conditions to do so. If such conditions are not provided, art becomes merely a decoration in the best case scenario and something completely redundant and simply ceases to be art in the worst case scenario. It can be easily seen that a hotel as a giant well-functioning machine with thousands of people passing through it is not the best place to showcase art. Additionally, as an aesthetic design resulting from the work of interior designers, a hotel is a finished, complete and actually full work. Adding art to it may constitute a challenge for art itself, however, simultaneously, it may be to the detriment of the design from both functional and marketing perspective. Therefore, from the perspective of art branding, a hotel is a particularly challenging task as you have to combine a great number of very contradictory interests, not to mention so-called industries, and simultaneously, you have to produce new values for hotel guests and service as well as certainly increase the advertising potential.
This is the case with the NYX Hotel which is currently being built in Warsaw. The NYX chain encompasses hotels for active and bold travellers, who expect a certain level of intensity of experiences, but also wish to pursue their actual purpose of the trip. The art branding process started during the interior designing process, whereas the starting point for the curator’s concept was the building itself. The NYX Hotel in Warsaw is located in the Varso complex, in the strict city centre of the capital city, and it consists of the tallest building in the European Union, the Varso Tower, designed by Norman Foster. The hotel is located in the lower but still more than twenty-storied part of the entire architectural design. It is a giant yet very technologically advanced design. It is also reflected in the fact that the same place houses the offices of many technological companies as well as the Cambridge Innovation Center.
For NYX, we have developed a concept arising from the conclusion that the future, which we were speculating about throughout the entire 20th century, has already come and that although we do not have flying cars and cyborgs resembling human beings, the date 16 November 2019 hidden in Blade Runner has already gone by, whereas the world looks really similar. Following this path, works that are being prepared for the purposes of the hotel are mostly related to different visions of the future, such as a monolith by Mariusz Trakawian, which is located in front of the building and presents a collage of characters from various sci-fi movies and comic books, or a giant mural created by Mariusz Waras, which can be seen at the lobby and constitutes a cityscape presented in a style that is so characteristic of him. Further in the lobby, Norbert Delman is working on a piece of art which is a reflection on what is hidden beneath the surface of such a giant and complex building as the Varso Tower – a maze of cables and pipes, blood stream, nervous and immune system of the entire organism. At the hotel restaurant, you can see a work of art by NeSpoon, which completely changes the nature of the place, the geometry of the building and its scale. Deeper along the corridor, next to the kitchen, you can find a mural by Aleksandra Waliszewska, which once again introduces an organic element and which is an oneiric fantasy itself. Finally, when you enter the terrace of the building, you will see a work of art by Anna Barlik entitled “East-West”, which will be visible from Aleje Jerozolimskie. In the evening, when you look at the hotel from the east, you will see two suns going down – a real one and an installation by Barlik, which together will create a view like from Tatooine planet from Star Wars. The aim of this narrative is to give you the impression that you are participating in something spectacular and that when you are at the hotel, you are a part of a giant living organism, which has numerous nooks and crannies as well as mysteries. While standing on the terrace, we are supposed to feel as if we were standing on the shoulders of giants, just like Gulliver who can do anything as the future has already come.
Jacek Sosnowski – curator of the exhibition.
Iris Barak is a curator of the NYX chain.