Art in hospitality is nothing new. But some restaurants, hotels and other trendsetters are making art the very essence of their décor and design. Whether you’re swallowed by the splashy collaborative murals that dominate ê.a.t at the W Montréal, or mesmerized by Damien Hirst’s “Gone But Not Forgotten” mammoth skeleton sculpture at Miami’s Faena Hotel, artwork can feel like a main course.
So powerful is the effect that some hotspots double as unconventional galleries, where art becomes a dominant force that complements cuisine and helps define the experience. Here are some picks within this new wave of art in hospitality:
1) ê.a.t, Montreal
Walk into ê.a.t, bpc’s new restaurant at the W Montréal, and the art hits your senses with a rush. Artwork is everywhere, eating up every available surface. It’s on the walls, tabletops, bar, and, of course, on many canvasses hung throughout the lobby-level space.
The restaurant’s white walls (part of a minimalist design by Sid Lee Architecture) add to its gallery flavor. Curated by MASSIVart, highlights include murals, paintings, sculptures and collaborative “walls of art” that evolve over time to create an ongoing commentary on Montreal’s historical, physical and social cultures.
“The use of art is nothing new in a restaurant, bar or hotel, but the use of art to bring to life the concept and, in the case of ê.a.t, allow design to continually change right before your very eyes, that is something unique” according to Peter Chase, creator of ê.a.t.
The art program features a colorful brouhaha of pieces and commissions from quite a diverse group of Montreal street art luminaries and contemporary artists: Stikki Peaches, WIA (What is Adam) as well as Jean Labourdette, Kevin Ledo, to name just a few. Illustrator Jason Wasserman created panoramas of Montreal architecture to jazz up bar tables.
Completing the picture are live painting evenings, unisex uniforms by designer Travis Taddeo and DJ-crafted play lists that harmonize with the visuals
2) Faena Hotel, Miami
Opened in late 2015 by Argentine developer Alan Faena (as part of the Faena Arts District), the oceanfront Faena Hotel serves a luxurious artistic feast befitting its utopian status.
In the guest rooms are charcoal drawings by Miami artist Gonzalo Fuenmayor. Featured artists also include such contemporary stars as Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst, who, in addition to the aforementioned golden sculpture, is also behind the unicorn sculpture “Golden Myth,” displayed in the hotel’s Asian restaurant.
Its Argentine restaurant, meanwhile, features chandeliers by Alberto Garutti, while a public lobby space called The Cathedral is adorned with murals by Juan Gatti.
3) VANDAL, NYC
Ever meet an 11-foot tall pink bunny rabbit? Head on over to Vandal NYC, downtown New York’s new street food and street art restaurant, bar and lounge. There, “Icy Grape,” the lacquered bunny rabbit in question (a custom sculpture by the Rockwell Group whose name pays homage to the discontinued spray paint colour coveted by street artists), is installed at the restaurant’s entrance (behind the nonchalantly minimal flower shop) its body forever locked in an upside down break-dance pose.
The rabbit sets the tone for what’s to come at this latest offering by the TAO Group and Chris Santos--street food from all around the world, and throughout its various dining rooms, street art installations by internationally-acclaimed artists like Shepard Fairey, Tristan Eaton, HUSH and others.
4) Chappaqua Station, Chappaqua
Another offering from bpc, this farm-to-town restaurant, bar and café features inspired photographs of Hudson Valley sustainable farmers, chefs and slow food movement pioneers. Shot by photographer Francesco Mastalia for his book Organic, these images quite literally bring to life the essence of the farm-to-table movement and old-world principles that inspired the creation of this Westchester go-to spot.
Located in a former train station in this picturesque Hudson Valley hamlet, Chappaqua Station Mastalia’s special photographs humanize and bring to life the farm-to-town ideals embodied by Chappaqua Station and its community of patrons and local suppliers.