Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA) called on the expertise of art consultancy division, Canvas, in creating Ming-inspired interiors for new hotel brand, NUO. Developed by Kempinski Hotels specifically for the Chinese domestic market, the chain’s debut property is situated in the heart of Beijing’s historic Chaoyang district. Set to expand nationwide in coming years, the brand celebrates China’s diverse cultural traditions, heritage and aesthetics through a localized approach to art and design.

Moon Wong, Art Director of Canvas Singapore explains, “HBA worked with Kempinski to identify NUO’s key brand tenets of Chinese, Contemporary, Luxury, and Green. Beijing’s grandeur complements those principles perfectly, and our research in libraries, museums and private homes led us to what we call ‘Modern Ming.’ From there, we sought artists and artworks that evoke the artistic traditions of the Ming period in a way that remains vibrant, fresh and contemporary.”

From Shanghai’s world-renowned Peace Hotel to Shenyang’s iconic Grand Hyatt, a diverse portfolio of high-end hospitality projects in China and beyond has seen Canvas develop an unparalleled network of artists, galleries, collectors and dealers throughout China. After careful consideration of the unique demands and spatial possibilities of each of NUO’s various areas, as well as the property’s intended character and tone, Canvas created a detailed shortlist of artworks both existing and unrealized to match the client’s expectations.

“We see ourselves as much consultants as curators,” explains Tonya Burke, Director of Canvas Singapore. “We try to incorporate a range of media, all the while considering the function of the space. Size also plays a part, and it’s important that artworks complement, not dominate interiors. Above all, we aim to introduce works that pique guests’ interests and inspire: comfort matters, so we look for pieces that allow the mind to wander, rather than confront or confuse.”

Throughout the 439-room hotel, Ming traditions such as calligraphy, ink painting and shan shui get a modern-day makeover by a who’s who of contemporary artists. Together, and in the context of China’s ancient capital, they create a compelling sense of familiarity, laced with an unmistakable edge. For example, the hotel’s 42 suites were inspired by the musings of Ming dynasty scholar, Wen Zhen Heng. At NUO, that translates to bespoke furniture, unique artworks and hand-painted plaques in redolent shades of blue.

Ian Carr, Partner at HBA says, “Collaboration with Canvas lends an added dimension to HBA’s interiors. They bring not just creativity and expertise, but also a confident hands-on approach when it comes to liaising with artists, installing artworks, and briefing hotel staff. Without a doubt, unique art offset by bespoke design offers a superlative guest experience, as is made abundantly – not to mention beautifully – clear in our latest collaboration.” Indeed, such has been the response and interest in artworks installed by Canvas internationally that consultants provide hotel staff with an Art Acquisition Book detailing each and every work on display.

Offering a customized approach to luxury, Kempinski Hotels’ NUO raises the bar for the Chinese domestic hospitality market through its one-of-a-kind approach to art, design and luxury. Reinforcing the brand’s discerning yet contemporary edge, Canvas’ carefully curated artworks installed throughout the flagship property brings calibre and prestige to this year’s most exciting hotel launch yet, complementing HBA’s Ming-inspired interiors beautifully.