Luukkanen-Hirvikoski, Teija: Beyond decoration: contemporary art and design as branding tools

In this presentation I introduce two case studies of displaying and promoting visual art and design in the context of hospitality industry. These case studies involve corporate collaboration with Tampere Artists’ Association and Design Museum Helsinki. Besides displaying art in hotel facilities both hotels have art education activities aimed at public and hotel visitors.

Hotel Torni Tampere (founded in 2014) highlights local perspective in its art programme and it promotes contemporary art of 22 artist in co-operation with Tampere Artists’ Association. Each work of art in hotel is for sale, and there is an online gallery as well. Hotel as the mediator of art and as part of the art lending services of Tampere Artists’ Association is an unusual concept in Finland. Hotel St. George (founded in 2018) in Helsinki has a corporate art collection, but the majority of the design objects on display have been loaned from Design Museum Helsinki. In these two cases different kinds of corporate images are build up by using contemporary art and design as branding tools, and spaces creating something that has a label of authenticity.

This presentation is based on empirical material of early-stage research. I have conducted interviews relating to Hotel Torni Tampere in 2017, as well as questionnaire for the Torni gallery artists. The data collecting of Hotel St. George´s art had to be postponed and it will be carried out after the Covid-19 pandemic. I will discuss the benefits and challenges for each major partners, and the changing roles of museum and artists.

As noted in previous research on corporate art, art generally has instrumental dimensions in profit-making business. Art can be a tool for building corporate image, as well as entertainment of clientele. Theories of corporate social responsibility, branding and experience economy are applied and discussed critically in analyzing the empirical data. The concept of authenticity will be applied in both cases.