The ‘ask’ was complex. Develop an art collection that pays tribute to the new property’s stunning Middle Eastern architecture. And the adjacent national mangrove preserve. And Abu Dhabi’s vista across the peninsula.
And make sure it fits with the Anantara brand. Fortunately, these types of requests are routinely fielded by Farmboy Fine Arts (FBFA) in their various art consulting projects.
“We love bold, complex requests for art collections,” explains Todd Towers, President and CEO of FBFA. “Projects like Eastern Mangroves allow us to really explore and develop unique and unexpected stories about the hotel, and about the local area, through art. And in the end that translates into a much more inspired guest experience.”
During FBFA’s concept design process with the project’s interior designer, myriad solutions were explored. From a single theme that connects each seemingly disparate artwork, to building a collection around one seminal acquisition, all roads were explored for the 200-room hotel and spa. The inspiration for the final art narrative, however, stemmed from an exhibition.
“Our inspiration actually came from the UAE that year,” says Towers. “Gagosian Gallery had shown work from Damien Hirst’s Supernatural series. Lots of butterflies and other creatures in spirals and stained glass. This got us thinking about the animals in the mangrove preserve, as well as how Hirst’s pattern work was almost reminiscent of the traditional mashrabiya latticework seen throughout the UAE and larger Arab world.”
From this point of departure, the FBFA team began developing the property’s art collection. In the guest rooms, FBFA wanted to develop a piece that incorporated the property’s various requested design elements. The first stage was to develop a custom kaleidoscope pattern, one that paid tribute to the mangrove creatures and that’s composition mimicked local mashrabiya. Next, FBFA commissioned an origami artist to hand-fold over 700 frogs, turtles and dragonfly sculptures, which were then pinned to the kaleidoscope pattern and framed in an two-inch-deep shadow box frame. To round out the remaining three pieces in the guest room, FBFA produced a custom 18” by 30” wrapped canvas artwork, as well as over 400 custom hand-pressed paper pieces, produced on locally-made artisanal paper.
“It’s always great when you can include handmade originals in the guest room,” says Towers. “It helps make the space more intimate and personal.”