Building foundations with Jean Nouvel and Frank Gehry
As part of its official launch in May this year, Le Méridien Istanbul Etiler played host to a three-day series of events that saw leading international artists and local talent from Istanbul’s booming art scene come together for an exciting programme of cultural happenings.
Cultural curator Jérôme Sans led a panel discussion entitled ‘Corporate Sponsorship of the Arts: Motivations, Potential, Problems’, which focussed on issues of funding and strategy. The panel featured insights by Istanbul-born artist Ayşe Erkmen, Erdal Yıldırım, president of the Vehbi Koç Foundation – a leading NGO supporting and organising art exhibitions in Turkey – Louise McKinney, head of Campaigns at the Serpentine Gallery in London, and Nick Aikens from Outset Contemporary Art Fund. McKinney’s description of the global shift of art funding from public to private institutions underscored the importance of the event and Le Méridien's inventive integration of art into their brand concept.
The evening continued with the official first night opening of the hotel, which saw Istanbul’s cultural, business and social elite gathering in the Le Méridien Hub. 'First Night Istanbul: The Art of Connection' highlighted Le Méridien's passion for connecting creative talents, countries and cultures by six art installations created for the event by LM100™ members that connected key creative cities in the world.
A DJ party and music performance followed in the hotel’s La Torre restaurant and pool deck, with dancing continuing late into the night in the Boaz Bar on the 34th floor with its amazing views of the city.
The morning after saw Istanbul conceptual artists and LM100™ members Birol Demir and Yasemin Baydar (who make up :mentalKLINIK) stage their ‘moving sculpture’ art installation, Terribly Jolly. The duo thrust small groups of visitors into a disorienting experience that recreated the interior of a nightclub, complete with pumping house music, flashing coloured lights and dancers. After a few minutes the whole ensemble of sound and movement would stop and freeze the moment into a piece of art. This juxtaposition of a nightclub in the morning that challenges expected notions of day and night was a typical example of :mentalKLINIK’s work. Following this experience :mentalKLINIK launched the first ever illy espresso Art Collection cup and saucer, a playful design in gold, exhibiting the artists’ signature pop-art vocabulary, which will be rolled out into Le Méridien hotels worldwide.
Under the direction of Sans, ten artists from the LM100™ creative family were on hand throughout the three-day event to meet guests and discuss their work both for Le Méridien Istanbul Etiler and for the other hotels globally.
Guided tours of a handful of local galleries, including the hotel's Unlock Art™ partner Istanbul Modern were led by LM100™ members :mentalKLINIK and Sam Samore, rounding off the two days of celebrations which had given guests a taste of Istanbul's vibrant creativity.
When Starwood Hotels acquired Le Méridien in 2005, it immediately set about injecting the group’s French heritage with a jolt of cultural modernity. With more than 100 properties in 50 countries worldwide, the project was ambitious, but with creative input from Le Méridien’s cultural curator Jérôme Sans, the result is an intelligent synthesis of individually distinct properties within their respective cultural settings. Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts have been transformed into staging areas for contemporary artworks by both established and up-and-coming artists and through partnerships with local cultural institutions, the group has forged a place for itself at the core of the art world. Via the Unlock Art™ programme, guests’ key cards designed by LM100™ members are literally a complimentary ticket to a city’s leading art forums. By any measure, the group’s elevation of the quotidian hotel experience into a cultural one is inspirational.