Client: Bluegreen Vacations
Location: New Orleans, LA, United States
Completion date: 2012
Ann Borrelli Smith
Everyone and everything in New Orleans has a story to tell, including Bluegreen Vacations’ Club La Pension. In addition to being located amongst a varied architecture and colorful people, it resides within the boundaries of the vibrant and jubilant French Quarter. To further enhance its unique story, the resort shut down for one year, in order to revitalize its elegant soul! From the outer walls, to the stunning reception, to the rooftop oases, and to each detail of the uniquely laid-out 63 guestrooms, the new design has enriched the entire property’s character.
The importance of the commissioned artwork was never more apparent than in this project. It was going to help tell a story and be a tribute to New Orleans. In doing so, the design team was able to create an unforgettable experience for the guests. Every corner you turn, original artwork has been integrated, from the lobby, to the corridors, and to the guestrooms.
During the concept design phase, the artwork was easily established as the highlight of the resort. To make it most meaningful, the realization came to hire local artists. Examples of this includes the following: artistically painted existing chairs and headboards from YAYA, inc, wall art prints affixed to re-purposed window frames from Tami Curtis-Ellis, a striking hand-forged iron accent for the new front desk from Rachel David, a miniature replica of Marie Leveau’s crypt from Michael J. Clement, or black and white photography of the soulful city and its people from Lisanne Dussouy.
In the end, the collaboration of the all the artists involved has helped to create an environment in which the guests staying in these units may gain true appreciation for talented artists, craftsmen, and their one-of-a-kind creations.
For this project, the collaborative relationship between the artists and the designers was easy. Everyone involved, had a story to tell and the need to breathe new life into the city. Initially, the artists were provided with the proposed design ideas, which were developed for the resort to give an idea of the direction for their designs.
Once they had the vision and direction, the artists had free range to interpret these ideas and incorporate the spirit of the city, including their personal style. The next step was for them to provide schematic sketches for the design team to review. During these reviews, everyone had input, and revisions were made. Several rounds of these reviews were conducted until the final draft was approved by the design team. In the end, everyone involved was able to feel proud of the collaboration and end product.
Besides the artistic impact for the resort, the artwork has helped the community in several ways. Since some of the art pieces used were re-purposed materials, items were prevented from ending up in the landfills. But, the most endearing impact was the collaboration with YAYA, Inc., which stands for Young Aspirations/Young Artists. This organization was created in order to empower young artists to find an outlet and blossom into successful adults. Their creations were a refreshing representation of New Orleans. Some of the chairs ended up installed on the ceilings, which provided a wonderful surprise to the guests.