Minima Hotel receives a makeover courtesy of Be Friendly design studio and a group of Adelaide’s finest creative talents. Leanne Amodeo visits the family-owned hotel.
November 4th, 2013
Be Friendly design studio’s founder and director Matt Stuckey is the first to admit there was a bit of sneakiness involved in getting the Minima Art Rooms project off the ground. “I painted the first two rooms in secret; the only other person who knew about it was the hotel’s marketing manager Finn Miller,” he says. “We did it as proof of concept and when the owner saw them he gave us the go-ahead.”
The ensuing makeover resulted in all 46 rooms of the Minima Hotel receiving a different painted – and sometimes sculpted – wall mural. Stuckey had wanted to curate a project of this scale for some time and finally found the perfect accomplice in Miller. From the marketing manager’s point of view the project was an exciting re-branding exercise that would give the family-owned hotel a point of difference.
The only concern was the rooms would appear smaller once painted, and with an individual floor space of 14sqm there was good reason to be worried. “It makes sense why people thought that,” says Stuckey, “But in practice each painting actually breaks up the space; the rooms appear larger and they’ve definitely got more character.”
The most successful murals are bold, colourful and thoroughly lacking in pretension. Graphic designer Ashleigh Abbott’s repeated triangle motif is instantly appealing and her execution has a precision that begs closer inspection. It is a wonderful contrast to graffiti artist Vans the Omega’s ‘action’ painting, which has compelling vibrancy and tension in every gesture.
Not all the murals are based on pattern or abstraction; many feature different figures to great effect. Illustrator Kate Gagliardi’s portraits are simply beautiful, painter Datsun Tran’s lone traveller makes for an evocative narrative and the Screamdance collective’s quirky cartoons make their room a joy to be in.
Each artist may have responded to the theme of creation, but the variation in subject matter, concept and execution makes the prescribed thematic difficult to decipher. The murals’ stylistic eclecticism, however, is the project’s most resounding design outcome; providing a dynamic snapshot of South Australia’s best creative talent.
In future Stuckey will be inviting more artists, designers and illustrators to become involved in the project. “The hotel has a lot of return guests, so the idea is to eventually paint over each room and start again,” he says. “That way the guest will never get bored.” It’s a lively approach that promises to keep the Minima Hotel fresh.
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