Project Boutique Hotel

This summer we worked on a crazy project that was out of the box and awesome. The initial call came from a furniture showroom business owner, who was staging a 10-floor building in Flatiron and needed to finish it with art STAT. The budget for all art was $20k and there were 9 floors with a 4 bedroom apartment on every floor. With ~85 artworks this amounts to an average of ~$250 per piece. Our typical client spends $5k- $50k per artwork, so this budget was new, but I am incapable of turning down a challenge, so we took the job. 

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Our client was SO GOOD at making this enormous and fast-paced project look easy.  By the time we got involved, he had selected and ordered all furniture, which, for 9 FLOORS of 4 bedroom apartments, means hundreds of items were en route. Each piece was interesting in some way and nothing like what you see at the West Elms and CB2s of the world -- a definite endorsement for the boutique design showrooms of the world.  We took his hard copies of all orders and transferred them to digital to make mood boards and understand the vibe of each room and each apartment. Next, we slipped in the art.  

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We were instructed to place art ONLY on walls that would be photographed for marketing purposes.  The budget of $6k was hugely helpful in directing our search - nothing from an actual gallery or storefront would work, and online was the way to go. We leveraged some of the client’s relationships with various furniture brands like Four Hands, Sunpan and Moe’s Home Collection and selected ~100 options over 2 days.  Here’s what we sought:

  1. Pieces that worked within the mood board color scheme, but not perfectly matching because that goes against my DNA. 

  2. Items that compositionally worked for the space. Higher energy works were placed into living rooms and calmer pieces in the bedrooms. 

  3. A variety of subjects - ie representative and abstract.

  4. A variety of media -- ie photographs, drawing prints, painting prints and sculpture. (Note: nothing was an original painting...because that would have blown the budget.  A “painting print” or “giclee” is essentially a digital copy of a unique painting, also called a nice poster.

  5. Proportionally fit the space (without yet seeing the furniture in-situ, this took imagination).

  6. Had to come framed 

  7. Had to fit the budget

After submitting our list we learned that the 2 week ship time didn’t work for deadlines, so we added on the last requirement: 

8: Must be drop-shipped

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With our selection of 100 options, we edited. This is a very instinctual process and involves a focus on balance and contrast. Lights need to be balanced with darks, large needs to be balanced with small, flats need to be mixed with three dimensional, and materials need to be diverse. But there HAS to be something to connect it all - some sense of cohesion - that can be achieved through common forms, color tones, subject references, or more. As a result of the editing, we were switching items between rooms in a single apartment and then across different apartments on different floors.  Maddie described the process as a kind of rapid-fire triple jeopardy reality TV showdown that would be stupid to watch but hysterical to live, and in retrospect, that seems accurate. Anyways, art was selected, approved, ordered and shipped.

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The art arrived across 3 days, in God knows how many trucks and the boxes essentially covered the building facade. The install day moved from “tomorrow or Thursday” to “let’s get it done tonight” and I skipped over to Flatiron to get it done. I was given 3 very strong men and we POWERED through placement and installation heights. I wasn’t even waiting for the actual installation since there was a team behind me doing the hanging --  my job was marking off everything with tape. I know what you’re thinking “OH, THAT TAKES 2 SECONDS’. Yeah, it doesn’t. And it’s HARD when you can’t see how everything is relating to everything else in a room. But we forged ahead and every time I thought we were done, more boxes appeared. Floor by floor by floor by floor, we got through it and at 10:30 pm, called it a night. Not everything was hung but it was all marked. Mercifully, there was a Sweetgreen next door and with my $19.50 Shroomami bowl in hand, I felt quite accomplished.  

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The following day was a hyper-lapse of activity, taking the building from disaster of debris to photo-ready. Photos were taken one day later by the building owners and it will open this fall for business. I KIND OF wish I could get back in with our go-to photographer and get more artsy shots for our site rather than the marketing real estate type BUT I’m happy we’ve got a nice picture book of the finished project. Best part ever: the client was super happy, so we are on-board for the next project with a few learnings in our back pocket, arrows in our quill, or whatever the phrases are. HOPE YOU ENJOY!