The Definitive Hospitality Art Guide: Flexible Art Solutions for Restaurants & Hotels - The Definitive Hospitality Art Guide: Flexible Art Solutions for Restaurants & Hotels -
The Definitive Hospitality Art Guide: Flexible Art Solutions for Restaurants & Hotels

The Definitive Hospitality Art Guide: Flexible Art Solutions for Restaurants & Hotels

Written by:
Lillie Therieau
Apr 17, 2023

Adapting To the Future Of Hospitality: Wear Your Heart On Your Design Sleeve

If you’re in the hospitality business, you probably already know how crucial interior design and art is to the success of your restaurant or hotel. You are providing your guests with a total experience, and you should be intentional about every aspect of that experience. Especially in the current age of social media, digital marketing, and ubiquitous visual culture, aesthetic impressions matter. They make guests and diners remember you, and differentiate your business from others. Guests are much more likely to become repeat customers if they have a memorable and beautiful experience. A put-together space is great for marketing and advertising, and will draw people in.  

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Competition is steep, and the way that you can get ahead is through innovative and value-driven choices. Show potential customers that you are willing to make investments that are rooted in values and in your community. Make your space somewhere that people want to be, whether it is a luxurious place to take a mini-vacation from daily life, a casual date-night restaurant, a boisterous bar to bring friends, or any number of other possibilities. Express your uniqueness, and the one-of-a-kind experience that you offer. Set yourself apart!

Art Makes You Stand Out, And Launches You Miles Ahead Of Competition 

When considering art for your hospitality space, make sure that you are approaching it from the right angle. The art that you choose should set you apart, make you unique, and create differences between you and your competition. Art is not just another thing that you are supposed to do, it’s a critical and intentional choice which will shape the experience that guests have in your hospitality space. It should be true to you and what makes your business unique and individual. Don’t be afraid to embrace a wild or out-there piece of art if it fits the mission or story of your hotel or restaurant. 

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Make sure your art expresses your values, whether literally or figuratively. What does your business stand for? What niche does it fill? What personal values do the founders of the business hold? If you have any unique facets of your business model, such as a commitment to charitable giving, a relationship with local farmers, your own house-brewed beer, or a novel fusion cuisine that is rooted in your own background, make sure that this story is visible in your art choices. Don’t hide what you stand for. Hang it on the wall, and people will get excited. Art is a perfect way to tell your story.

Keep It Local To Keep Your Business Rooted In The Community

Consider going with local artists to connect your restaurant or hotel with the community. A local artist’s work can tie your business to the neighborhood, and make it clear that you care about the space your business inhabits. It’s another great way to make your values visible in your hospitality space. 

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Buying from local artists is also a great way to create an ecosystem of folks that are involved in your hospitality business. Local artists, graphic designers, potters, farmers, or any other artisans that you may want to get involved with create buzz and free publicity for your business. They’re likely to share out about the work that they’ve done with you to their own community and social media followers, getting like-minded folks interested in the experience that you’re offering. 

Don’t Waste First Impressions 

The moment that a guest enters your hospitality space, they should be wowed. First impressions are all-important, and wasting them is a fatal mistake for hospitality businesses. You want the entrance of your restaurant or hotel to be striking. Draw folks in from their first glance around. 

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Art in hospitality spaces should be part of a larger cohesive aesthetic scheme. Make sure that your choice of artwork makes sense with your branding, website, any written material, or advertising, or any other visual choices that you’ve already made in your space. Nothing about the visual experience in your space should feel disjointed or confusing. The aesthetic choices should flow into each other, and create a full and polished experience. 

Curating Instagrammable Spaces in 2023

What are the elements of an Instagrammable space? This question is becoming a lot more important with each passing year. In 2023, does your interior design stack up? Consider embracing natural light, lots of plants (especially plants with big leaves, like Monsteras, the king of Instagram plants!), wood tones, sleek furniture, exposed brick and wood beams, globe lights and statement light fixtures, and soft pastel tones, as some Insta classic design features. Organic patterns are also a must on any fabric elements or rugs. Squiggles, zig-zags, splotches, sprinkles, and grid patterns are great go-tos. 

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In lobbies or central spaces, go with a picturesque art option that encourages social media engagement and selfies. Break into what might be called the viral factor, or pieces of art that encourage Instagramming and other kinds of posting! Anything with a frame is likely to photograph less well, as the glass or plexiglass might have a glare. Large neon signs are popular for social media purposes, so consider a simple design or a witty phrase done in neon. Murals are also great for this reason, as they’re easy to pose with and are super photogenic. 

IPaintMyMind offers Custom Mural Services that are perfect for a hospitality setting. We work with you to get a sense of your values and brand, and then select a compatible artist from our amazing partner artists. We then work with you and the artist to design a perfect mural for your hospitality space, focusing on mood, atmosphere, and tying your design vision together. Next, our artist executes the mural on your wall over a three day period. We provide you with high-quality videos and photographic records of this process for you to share with your guests and community. We then take all profits from your shiny new mural and put them to work creating impact through our arts education programming in public schools and community spaces. You get an amazing mural, and you get to know that you made a real contribution to making arts education more accessible! 


Tips for Hotel Art Selection

How many hotels have you stayed in that had sterile, boring art hanging on the walls? In the hotel world, some think that it’s best to pick monotonous art, so as to avoid shock or disruption in a space intended for sleep and relaxation. Although the purpose of spaces should be a major consideration when choosing artwork, the artwork devoid of personality which haunts too many hotel rooms is a wasted chance to elevate guests’ experiences. 

Hotels are experiencing some stiff competition and a changing landscape. With new developments like Airbnb crowding the field, how are you going to set yourself apart? What makes your hotel different and worth coming to? Embrace what makes you unique and sets you apart. Art and design is a great way to wear your heart on your sleeve. Loudly proclaim your worth and values to anyone who enters your hotel. Don’t shy away from your story and your message. 

Designing Hotel Rooms Versus Communal Spaces

  • Make sure that art located in hotel rooms is soothing and conducive to rest and sleep, while still being interesting and engaging. Any art that hangs in a room in which sleep is central should be calming. You want to make sure that no art choices disrupt the purpose of the space and make it harder for your guests and clients.
  • Art in hotel rooms should be themed or batched in different rooms to create visual differentiation, and allow repeat customers to have new experiences in each room they might stay in. This could be centered around color or theme, giving each hotel room a distinctly separate feel.
  • Pieces of art in other spaces in the hotel should be more catered to your brand and larger message, and should be somewhat cohesive in theme or feel. Maybe decorate your lobby with a series by the same artist, or pieces in a similar style. Keep your design and messaging tight and intentional in communal spaces, and especially in entryways and lobbies. They are the first thing the guest sees, and should tell your story in a way that’s easy to understand. 

Hip Hotels: A Case Study

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A mainstay with a gloried history, the Chicago Athletic Association embraces its past and looks ahead to the future. Their interior design vision is built off the incredibly unique and vintage space that the hotel occupies, adding modern flourishes to the Victorian foundation. They lean into what makes them unique, their decades of history as an exclusive athletic club for the rich and famous, but keep it fresh and accessible to all. Their art collection fits right into their vision, using muted palettes and choosing works with a painterly style, but making sure that they are distinctly contemporary. 


A Checklist For Art In Your Restaurant

Art on the walls of restaurants is one of the most important choices when designing your space, as diners look around often while eating and will notice what’s around them. Each of our senses are tied together and work in tandem, affecting what we perceive. Even though you might not consciously realize this as a diner, a positive aesthetic experience will elevate any culinary experience. 

As a restauranteur, you most likely already put this concept into practice when it comes to plating, presentation of food, table-setting, and high standards of cleanliness. However, why stop there? You have control over the whole dining experience, and can set the perfect tone for the kind of experience you hope to leave your guests with. 

The kind of food which is served is key for determining what sort of art should be chosen for your restaurant. Make sure that your choice in art work makes sense with your restaurant concept and flows in the space. Consider choosing art that conveys your values, personal identity or history, the background of your cuisine, or the atmosphere that you are trying to create. Embrace your authentic self, and choose art that you like. 

Customers can tell if design choices are authentic or purely chosen at random based on assumptions of what a space should look like. Clunky, disjointed design choices are easy to notice. Art should be chosen with care, or you may risk an atmosphere of insincerity. 

Color Is Key

  • Green-forwards art pieces convey a sense of healthiness, freshness, and calm in your restaurant. 
  • Natural wood tones are chic, simple, and honest, they convey a sense of earthiness.  
  • Oranges and yellows are fantastic for boosting mood and comfort, and create a warm atmosphere.
  • Blue is soothing and engaging. It conjures images of the ocean and the sky, and is great for seafood restaurants or sushi restaurants.

Curating Your Restaurant: Case Studies 

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Logan Square’s Lonesome Rose is a modern Mexican restaurant, confident in telling its story visually. Their sleek, well-designed space references the desert and glorious Western sunsets with a palette of natural wood, dusty pinks and faded blues, and ubiquitous succulents of all varieties. Simple materials like raw wood and cinder blocks form the bar and the wrap-around plant stand in the main dining room. In the summer, a rooftop patio stays true to the theme, with baby pink tables and deep blue chairs. The building itself is a striking saturated blue, standing out from the surrounding classic Chicago brick with a pop! Of course, Lonesome Rose also features gorgeous original art, including two large abstract paintings that steal the show in the main dining area. 

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Bucktown’s Chef’s Special Cocktail Bar is an homage to classic Chinese-American cuisine. Chinese-American food first started to gain popularity in the early to mid-20th century, as Chinese immigrants started restaurants with new variations on traditional Southern Chinese dishes. Chef’s Special Cocktail Bar pays homage to mid-century decor and vibes, with a muted color palette of mauve, turquoise, navy, and yellow. There’s plenty of wood laminate and moody lighting, with floral lamp shades and decorative sconces. The art is playful and dramatic, with bold roses, panthers, and other popular mid-50s motifs. 


Should You Rent Or Buy Art For Your Hospitality Space? 

Consider a rotating art rental service to keep your spaces fresh. Something like IPaintMyMind’s Art Rental Service will keep your art new and interesting, as we rotate the pieces every three months. We handle installation, transportation, and troubleshooting, making your restaurant or hotel’s artwork a worry-free aspect of your operations. This is a great way to make a commitment to artwork in your hospitality space, while taking off some of the pressure and stress on your end. 

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You are able to freshen up your space with new art, while supporting working artists with your subscription. To top it off, with IPaintMyMind’s Art Rentals, you get art and give back. We take all profits from art rentals and use them to fund our high-quality arts programming for Chicago Public Schools. Your business can up its design game and do high-impact charitable giving in one fell swoop. This is another great way to live your values through art and design. Show your guests you care by investing in art and equity in arts education. 

You could also hire an art consultant to help curate your space while keeping your brand, values, and intentions in mind. If you aren’t quite sure where to start when it comes to art and design in your hospitality space, consider a consultant. IPaintMyMind’s Art Consulting services are uniquely tailored to center your vision and needs. We work with you to find the kind of art that speaks to your values and character. We deliver and install the work, and figure out the most effective spots for your new art. This is a great choice if you want to make a long-term investment in art that works for you. And again, we use all profits from our art consulting services to fund our arts programming in CPS schools. 

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Written by:
Lillie Therieau
Apr 17, 2023