For us, travel is the ultimate creative endeavour. An opportunity to step outside of the norm, immerse ourselves in all forms of culture and, well, to daydream just for the hell of it. Which got us thinking: is there a way we can bring that (perhaps slightly forgotten) feeling to life?
And so a plan was hatched. Drawing inspiration from the time-honoured tradition of an artist’s residency, we set out to form our own shapeshifting version. Working with a community of artists, ranging from painters and musicians to ceramicists and choreographers we will be, over the next year or so, facilitating a series of stays at creatively minded hotels that can help take those initial sparks of inspiration and turn them into a reality; physical manifestations of our hotel-loving philosophy. Not quite a full ‘in residence’ stint (oh to have a spare six months, right?) but hopefully providing enough of a scenery shift to sharpen the senses. An artist-not-in-residence, if you will.
The hotel itself might serve as the ultimate muse, informing most of what’s created. Or it might simply provide the space to finally unlock those promising half-thoughts, unrelated but indebted to their surroundings. Either way, we figured, some time spent somewhere stimulating is long overdue for most of us.
And so, with the series cemented, we handed the reins over to our inaugural subject: Zoë Zimmer. Zoë is a photographer, an artist, a model and an occasional hotel reviewer whose playful work has never been far from a Mr & Mrs Smith moodboard. In our role as cupid, we reckoned some time at London’s good-time go-to, the Standard, during that most electric of art weeks, Frieze, might fire the imagination. (Indeed, it currently plays host to a full-time artist-in-residence in fashion designer Harris Reed whose work continues to dazzle all who encounter it so it’s fair to call it a hotel that appreciates a bit of creative flair).
Ordinarily, Zimmer explained, a lot of nostalgia filters into her work: ‘Movie posters from the Sixties, record sleeves, Seventies Playboy covers, music and fashion from different times. Even photographs of certain neighbourhoods from different eras do it for me’. No one particularly likes to talk about ‘their process’ but she would often find creativity striking ‘at really inconvenient times, like during the middle of the night or on the tube. When I’m on a deadline I often push myself pretty hard, which means that I take my time off very seriously. I don’t work, I don’t plan things, I lie on a beach and move as little as humanly possible while someone brings me cold drinks’.
Its lack of beach aside, the Standard was well suited for its role as inspiration station. ‘Its main draw’ said Zimmer ‘is that it’s undeniably fun. The minute you step in the lobby you know you’re in for a good time’. Although the artist was drawn to its good looks, too. ‘I love the Seventies brutalist aesthetic and ended up using the Standard colours as well as the shape of the windows in my piece’.
As well as carving out the time for creation, though, this is a series designed to foster a community linked by that common thread: travel. So, last week, our final step was to celebrate the artwork – and our first official artist-not-in-residence – in the very place that inspired it, with friends from the fields of fashion, music, fragrance, interiors, jewellery, design and more. Sharing plates (naturally) were devoured, endlessly refilled champagne glasses were clinked, collaboration was toasted, and friendships were forged (and sincere thanks all those who braved London tube strikes to do so).
Now the, um, creative baton will be passed and new works will be made in new hotels in new locales. And we’ll be taking them to dining tables, dance floors and stages the world over so watch this space. It’s good to be back.
CLUB HOTEL LOVERS
Oh, and one more thing… We’ve never really been ones for background music so to ensure a suitable, ahem, vibe for the evening, we cut the imaginary ribbon on our imaginary nightclub. So come on in, leave your coat and your worries at the door and grab a drink. Hell, grab two and lose yourself for a while. Our business here is strictly pleasure so drop in any time you want. See you on the floor – and maybe in some non-imaginary spaces soon.
Artwork by Zoë Zimmer. Main image by Louis AW Sheridan. All party pictures courtesy of James Kelly. With thanks to the Standard and all our guests: Zoë Zimmer, Daisy Hoppen, Matilda Goad, Emmanuel Lawal, Lou Hayter, Yasmin Sewell, Craig Ford, Charlie Porter, Alice Casely-Hayford, Lucy Williams, Francesca Grima, Melissa Morris, Ruth Aymer, Amira Hashish, Alice Howlett, Natasha Shafi, Louis Sheridan, Richard MacKichan and Helen Bailey.