Obscure Design Typologies: Hotel Art

The strange phenomenon of hotel abstract art illustrated here is key to Will Wiles’ new book The Way Inn. Without giving anything away plot-wise, the book makes us look closely at the strange interior worlds of chain hotels, their arrangements, protocols, furniture and the art that is hung on their walls.

What are these things that are approximations of art filling space adding nondescript character to characterless environments, that are symbols referencing nothing at at all … Where do they come from? Are there, as Will asks, gigantic production facilities producing acre after acre of generic abstraction? Or do they, as the story of the Way Inn suggests, hold the key to much darker secrets?

We could also ask is there an entire shadow art history of hotel art? Stories of the struggle and eventual breakthrough of radical new approaches to meaningless decoration?

Well, if this sounds interesting, next week at AA Nightschool we’re delighted to welcome Will Wiles back for a second edition of his book club. This follows his sessions earlier this year titled ‘Malign Interiors’. In the best traditions of horror movie franchises the sequel is called ‘Malign Interiors 2: Bigger on the Inside’. (The scary proposition that scale and proportion begin to behave in supernatural and perverse ways being a familiar trope in the genre of horror scenarios)

You can book on the Nightschool website for the three sessions which start on Tuesday 2nd Sept where we’ll be discussing William Beckford’s Vathek. Next up is J.G. Ballard’s Report on an Unidentified Space Station. The finale will be Will’s new novel The Way Inn.

For more info you can see Will’s piece for the RIBA Journal here and this piece I wrote for Dezeen for the original series.



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