Art for Art’s Sake? That’s no longer the case in the hospitality industry. Luxury hotels around the world have become galleries to beautiful pieces of art—everything from sculptures to paintings to murals.
The Fife Arms in the Scottish Highlands, for example, features approximately 14,000 works of art from the 19th Century through the present, including a late Picasso painting, Mark Bradford-designed piano and a giant Louise Bourgeois spider that looms in the courtyard.
In Florence, Italy, the Hotel Lungarno has more than 450 works. Its 65 guest rooms are adorned with Picassos and Cocteaus, along with many Italian greats such as Marino Marini, Ottone Rosai, Mario Sironi, and Antonio Bueno.
In downtown Dallas—about as far away culturally as one can get from Florence—The Joule hotel houses a vast collection of museum-quality artwork sourced from the private collection of hotel owner, Tim Headington. The gallery-like experience actually begins across the street, where artist Tony Tasset’s three-story eyeball sculpture offers a commanding gaze as visitors approach the hotel. The art experience then continues via entry through the Main Street doors, where one is greeted with mid-century mosaics, or through the Commerce Street lobby, which is outfitted with Roger Hiorns’ crystal-covered engine.
The art installation experience continues through the hotel’s public and private spaces, which are bedecked with pieces by Andy Warhol, Richard Phillips, Tony Cragg, Adam Fuss, and Tomory Dodge.
The art on display at The Joule helps draw guests and locals into the boutique hotel, according to Jeny Bania, the chief marketing officer for Headington Companies, and features a permanent and rotating collection that keeps people wanting to come back.
“The collection and our commitment to the arts have long been cornerstones of The Joule brand and experience, so we have evolved as a must-stay destination for people visiting Dallas for such cultural events as the Dallas Art Fair and TWO X TWO, the annual contemporary art auction benefiting the Dallas Museum of Art and AMFAR,” Bania said. “Because our appreciation and support for the arts go beyond what’s on the walls, we see that our customers feel a sense of community here.
“Now more than ever, people are really valuing experiences over objects, particularly when it comes to travel. They are looking for more fulfilling interactions at every level of their stay. More than ever, luxury hotels are a—if not the—central component of a vacation, offering a cultural checkpoint where meaningful impressions are made through an art collection like The Joule’s.
The mosaics at The Joule, Bania said, are perhaps the best representations of how the collection fits into the culture and history of Dallas. The large-scale, mid-century mosaics by Millard Sheets are featured in the public spaces throughout the hotel. Tim Headington personally funded the salvaging efforts and restoration work to revive more than 70 of Sheets’ mosaics before they met demolition in a nearby construction project. Made of glass tiles from Murano, Italy, Sheets’ intricate designs are widely considered some of the country’s most impressive large-scale tile works.
“These pieces, in particular, remind Tim of the vibrancy of Dallas, as they were originally commissioned for the Mercantile Building in downtown Dallas in the 1940s—at the height of a bustling era,” Bania said. “For The Joule, and Dallas locals, the mosaics serve as a way to remember the past and also celebrate the city’s momentum and dynamic energy.
“Tim’s passion for the arts and self-expression is an integral part of everything that we do at Headington Companies and The Joule. He wanted to create a space where people would be surrounded by world-class art and culture and to bring in pieces that would elicit a response one way or the other. You don’t have to love every piece in the collection, but even if you dislike it, it’s creating a response and engagement, and that’s central to what Tim was looking to create. We are very proud of the collection and spend a great deal of time rotating and curating the pieces to keep things fresh and interesting.”