twitter facebook
Work by Tacita Dean in the reception of the Hotel At Six. Publicity image

It’s a thrill to work for the “unprepared visitor” 0

Q&A with Sune Nordgren, art curator of the new Stockholm design hotel At Six

This spring, the Norwegian billionaire, art collector and owner of the Nordic Choice Hotels chain, Petter Stordalen, presented Stockholm with the grand opening of two new hotels – At Six and HOBO – both of which are located in the small district of Brunkebergstorg in the heart of the city. Sometimes called the “rock star of the hotel industry”, Stordalen has, in his usual manner, filled both new hotels with art. The curator of the art collections of the new hotels is Sune Nordgren, who used to be the director of the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design in Oslo, Norway. Nordgren is well used to the hotel-art curating job by now, as he has put together more than ten art presentations in hotels owned by Stordalen – the most renown being the Oslo hotel The Thief.

Read in the Archive: An interview with Swedish art curator Sune Nordgren

Nordgren is convinced that art has the ability to influence a hotel’s atmosphere. By selecting distinct, slightly challenging, and always memorable artworks for his projects, he is decidedly changing the definition of “hotel art”. By the looks of it, At Six will be another successful step towards this goal, and perhaps, the brightest and best example of the “art hotel” concept yet.

Jaume Plensa. Mar Whispering, 2017. Almeria marble. Photo: Andy Liffner

HOBO’s interior was created by the Berlin-based design studio Aisslinger, while Universal Design Studio is responsible for the interior design of At Six. The artworks integrated into both hotels have been selected by you. Could you please elaborate on how these collaborations have worked out?

Yes, it is true that I was asked a couple of years ago to select the art for both At Six and HOBO. But after having visited Hotel Bikini in Berlin (a kind of “model” for HOBO), and having discussed the concept with Werner Aisslinger and his team, we decided to concentrate my efforts on At Six.

The process also showed the benefits of separating the two neighboring hotels as much as possible in order to give them both stronger identities. We decided that HOBO is “an artwork in itself”, and At Six will be the true Art Hotel, with a focus on contemporary, international artists and artwork. After that, I worked very closely with London-based Universal Design Studios to find the perfect places for the sometimes truly impressive art works. 

What were the principles that you followed in selecting the artworks for At Six? How did this selection process differ from the one for The Thief?

The criteria for At Six was to manifest this hotel as the most obvious Art Hotel so far, in terms of our ambitious effort to “redefine the concept of Hotel Art”. The Thief was based on the collaboration and sponsorship-based exchange with the nearby Astrup Fearnley Museum in Oslo. For At Six, the artists and the artworks have been selected to emphasize and strengthen the Strawberry Art Collection – one of the major collections of contemporary art in Scandinavia, and owned by Petter Stordalen. 

Dawid, 2001. Archival pigment print. Edition of 5 + 2 AP (size 82 x 71 cm). Publicity image

How many artworks are on exhibit in At Six?

For At Six, there are more-or-less permanent works by Jaume Plensa (1 work), Richard Long (3), Tacita Dean (1), Sol LeWitt (5), Julian Opie (2), Olafur Eliasson (1), Marijke van Warmerdam (2), and Dawid (18). In addition to this, there’s a series of eight paintings by Kristina Matousch, and a multiple commission also by her, for selected rooms and corridors. We also commissioned Julian Opie to create a Coloring Book that will be given out to every child visiting At Six.

Which artworks would you like to highlight?

Entering the lobby of At Six is, in itself, a completely new experience. To see art works by Jaume Plensa, Tacita Dean, Richard Long and Dawid – even before you’ve reached the reception desk – is an overwhelming impression that will definitely last and immediately make you appreciate and value your addition to everything else you can expect from a luxurious hotel in the center of Stockholm. We also expect a lot of visitors who will not be staying overnight, but who will come just for the good food, the fantastic views and music, and the relaxed atmosphere.

Work by Olafur Eliasson. Publicity image

How would you characterize the curatorial practice of making art presentations for hotels?

For me, after having worked for 25 years curating public art spaces (museums, public art galleries, etc.), and which were aimed at a conscious arts audience, it is a thrill and a challenge to work for the “unprepared visitor” – the guests of these select hotels who did not expect to see the kind of art that they are being confronted with. To make them appreciate and remember their visit – and to come back.

Read in the Archive: An interview with Norwegian art collector Petter Stordalen

Dawid. Archival pigment print, 2004. Edition of 5 + 2 AP (size 120 x 90 cm). Publicity image

Sol LeWitt, Horizontal Color Bands, 1991. Edition of 30 + 8 AP, Galerie Lelong, New York. Printed byWatanabe Studio Ltd, Brooklyn, New York, 1991