The art-in-hotels phenomenon has been percolating for a while now. Like all trends, however, it could use an update. At the Joseph, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Nashville, the concept has undergone a savvy refinement by INC Architecture & Design. â€śSometimes, an art hotel can be like a gallery with rooms attached,â€ť says INC partner and creative director Adam Rolston, who spent nearly five years conceiving the interiors for the Joseph alongside partners Drew Stuart and Gabriel Benroth. â€śHere, itâ€™s intended for guests to feel like theyâ€™re living with the art. Itâ€™s a more residential approach.â€ť The 297-key property is the second developed by the Pizzuti Companies under the umbrella of Marriott Internationalâ€™s Luxury Collection. The Pizzutis, an art-collecting family with a private museum in Columbus, Ohio, opened the first Joseph there, naming the brand after patriarch Joseph Pizzuti, and more may be on the way. â€śThere are three primary forces,â€ť Rolston continues, â€śNashville, an Italian family, and the art. Those dynamics really came together to define every aspect of the hotel.â€ť
INCâ€™s experience with installation design for the Jewish Museum and the Museum of Arts and Design was a plus for a project featuring, right at its entry, a 7-by-9-foot turquoise sculpture by Hank Willis Thomas in the form of a jagged exclamation bubble. â€śOne thing that sealed the deal: We know how to handle art,â€ť Rolston says, as well as game-changing hotels; the firmâ€™s portfolio includes 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge and the club/spa for the forthcoming Six Senses New York.
But in the pre-opening phase of the Joseph, when COVID-19 struck, INC had to invent a new strategy to supervise design work. â€śVirtual walk-throughs, or VWTs, as we call them now, involve a single team member cleared to walk the property or visit a workroom to review on-site placement, quality, or prototypes with an iPhone in hand and the full team participating virtually,â€ť Benroth explains. â€śVWTâ€™s have turned out to be a very productive tool because more eyes are involved to catch errors and suggest improvements. Weâ€™ll be using VWTs long after the pandemic is gone.â€ť
It helped that INC had a strong piece of contemporary architecture to work with. The 21-story, glass-and-steel building is by Arquitectonica, renowned for its trademark strong diagonals. The firm kept true to form here, where a corner of the facade consists of triangular forms folding in on each other. â€śWe hate when the exterior of a project doesnâ€™t relate to the interior,â€ť Stuart says. â€śSo we used Arquitectonicaâ€™s language of formal geometry.â€ť That strategy is on display in the lobby, where an uplit rectangular coffer in the ceiling glows like a James Turrell artwork and flooring in tri-colored marble is a rhythmic configuration of cream, gray, and black squares and trapezoids. The marbleâ€™s look also refers to the Italian heritage of the Pizzutis. â€śWe went through a million Italian churches and palazzos to find that specific pattern,â€ť Rolston notes.
That countryâ€™s more recent design heritage informed the furniture, fabrics, and finishes for the 430,000-square-foot hotel. â€śThe ghost of Gio Ponti and the Italian mid-century overall is definitely apparent, but brought up to date,â€ť Rolston says of the streamlined custom pieces throughout, such as the curving gray-mohair sectionals on chromed pedestals and marble floor lamps topped by large, simple spheres.
The lounge off the lobby is perhaps the place where the key material choiÂces come together most symphonically. Thereâ€™s the copper bar top itself, but also an ebullient copper-and-glass chandelier by Misha Kahn; it explodes with conical and bulbous shapes, all the better to set off the round-backed swivel armchairs nearby. The stools in satin nickel and brown leather echo the mid-century notes elsewhere in the project.
Oak and walnut factor in significantly to the materials palette, too. Flooring in the suites is engineered live-sawn white oak. Headboards in all guest rooms are carved walnut. At Yolan, one of the Josephâ€™s three restaurants, dining tables are also walnut, trimmed with mother-of-pearl inlay.