Skwachàys Lodge: Aboriginal Art Hotel

Skwachàys Lodge: Aboriginal Art Hotel

Location
Vancouver, Canada
Category
Hotels
Stories By
CHIL Interior Design

Skwachays Lodge

Metro Wallcoverings

Skwachàys Lodge: Aboriginal Art Hotel

CHIL Interior Design as Interior Architects

Vancouver’s Aboriginal Art Hotel


Fusing contemporary First Nations Art and interior design in an original way, CHIL Design teamed with native artist Clifton Fred to design several unique rooms within Vancouver's Aboriginal Art Hotel. The project marks the first boutique hotel concept of its kind in Canada.


Background:


Owned and operated by the non-profit Vancouver Native Housing Society, the Aboriginal Art Hotel is housed within the Skwachàys Lodge building in downtown Vancouver. The building originally opened in 2012 as an art gallery and healing lodge accompanied by 24 suites for out-of-town First Nations patients receiving treatment in Vancouver. In response to lower than anticipated demand, 18 of the 24 suites were transformed in 2014 into boutique hotel room suites, with the remaining suites remaining for native patient visitors. As part of the transformation, six First Nations artists were teamed with six interior design firms to re-imagine the existing suites for tourists in search of a unique accommodation experience.


Telling the stories of themes and stories of the native artist, each suite has its own distinct design and features original works of art from the artist involved. 100% of the hotel's profits go towards operating a native in artist residence program within the lodge, as well as accommodation for First Nations people at risk of homelessness.


The Artist and Designers:


Tasked with the design of 3 of the 18 hotel suites was CHIL Interior Design, a Vancouver-based office who have worked with some of the world's leading hospitality brands and are known for a boutique approach to design and ability to translate stories into one-of-a-kind spaces that express the spirit of a traveller's particular location.


CHIL Interior Design was paired with acclaimed native artist Clifton Fred, a self-taught artist who expresses his feelings and the stories of his people, of the great Tlingit Tribe, through poetry writing and fine detail pencil drawings.


Clifton Fred explains that for him, writing and drawing are inextricably linked as he learned the skills at the same time as a child. In his words, 'I cannot feel one without the other.'


The drawings he creates of his peoples and their natural environment are accompanied by handwritten poetry that does not explain in words what the viewer is seeing, but rather expresses what he is thinking as he draws.


Together with CHIL Interior Design, the works of Clifton Fred were conceptualized into three different themes for the three different suites. The themes are Canadiana, Poetry and Collage. For each theme, Fred's works were curated, designed and screened onto a series of wallpapers. These different wallpapers envelope their respective spaces with an original combination of vibrant pencil drawings, collage, and handwritten poems.


The resulting effect is a distinctly different approach to showcasing the works of this exceptional First Nations artist. As Adèle Rankin, Principal and interior designer at CHIL explains, 'Art works aren't confined to frame or located as an object. Here, the art works of Clifton Fred leave the page and become integral to forming, defining and experiencing the space.'


Like other artists and designers involved, CHIL Design volunteered their time pro bono to the project. The other design teams involved are designer Lou-Anne Neel and Inside Design Studio Inc., Sabina Hill and Mark Preston and MCM Interiors Ltd, Richard Shorty and Porada Design Group, as well as Jerry Whitehead and Portico Design Group.


Experience of Place:


As well as experiencing a stay in these three one-of-a-kind designed rooms, visitors to the Aboriginal Art Hotel are able to participate in traditional Aboriginal cultural experiences including a sweat lodge and smudge room for spiritual cleansing rituals.


Response to the hotel has thus far been overwhelming. In addition to the project's commercial success, the project also showcases First Nations culture to the city and the world in an unprecedented way that merges contemporary art culture with interior design and First Nations community engagement.

Skwachays Lodge - Aboriginal Hotel & Gallery

Skwachays Lodge as Client

In the Fall of 2012, a few months after Skwachàys Lodge and Gallery opened, Jon Zwickel, president of InnVentures Hospitality Corp. visited the Gallery. Coincidentally, David Eddy was there. Dave is CEO of the Vancouver Native Housing Society (VNHS), the not-for-profit society that owns the Hotel and Gallery. They struck up a conversation and Dave shared the business model and the story of how the building was developed.


Dave explained that the Hotel and Gallery are social enterprises. Under this business model, 100% of the profits flow directly to VNHS, the non-profit owner. This arrangement reduces VNHS’s dependence on government subsidies and private donations while enabling it to continue its mandate of providing safe, secure and affordable housing to Vancouver’s urban Aboriginal population. Jon was struck by how the social enterprise model is a workable solution to two issues that are meaningful to him: homelessness and the welfare system.


The Lodge had been a modestly successful, self-sustaining business. But being an experienced hotelier, Jon saw the potential for further improvement by strengthening the connection between the Gallery, the Hotel and the 24 artists-in-residence. Since that meeting with Dave Eddy, Jon has worked tirelessly, donating his time and energy to make the transformation a reality. The process started when Dave selected six Aboriginal artists to each create a vision and theme for three hotel suites. Then six interior design firms graciously donated their services to transform the artists’ visions into functional hotel suites.


Jon and the designers brought together dozens of hotel and construction industry associates who donated cash and goods as well as volunteered their services. Everyone involved understood that by increasing the hotel’s revenues, they are establishing a sustainable cycle of positive social impact. Under Jon’s leadership, this group of dedicated interior designers, manufacturers, suppliers, contractors and consultants came together to fulfill a vision of transforming Skwachàys Lodge into a boutique hotel that has social impact while giving guests the opportunity to experience and celebrate authentic Aboriginal arts and culture.


The transformation is nothing short of remarkable and Vancouver Native Housing Society extends its deep appreciation to all those who contributed to transforming this dream into a reality. We invite you to come and experience Canada’s first Aboriginal arts and culture hotel and witness for yourself what can happen when socially minded folks come together to support an idea that is making a difference.

Skwachays Lodge - Aboriginal Hotel Gallery

Metro Wallcoverings as Wall Solutions

Fusing contemporary Native Art and interior design in an original way, CHIL Design teamed with native artist Clifton Fred to design several unique rooms within Vancouver’s Aboriginal Art Hotel. The project marks the first boutique hotel concept of its kind in Canada.


Telling the stories of themes and stories of the native artist, each suite has its own distinct design and features original works of art from the artist involved. 100% of the hotel's profits go towards operating a native in artist residence program within the lodge, as well as accommodation for First Nations people at risk of homelessness. 


Together with CHIL Interior Design, the works of Clifton Fred were conceptualized into three different themes for three different suites. The themes are Canadiana, Poetry and Collage. For each theme, Fred’s works were curated, designed and screened onto a series of customized wallpaper that come from local manufacturer Metro Wallcoverings. These different wallpapers envelop their respective spaces with an original combination of vibrant pencil drawing, collage and handwritten poems.


More from the Manufacturer:


Metro Wallcoverings can offer you total design freedom. Our in-house studio design team can partner with you to transform any design concept into a custom wallcovering reality engineered to meet stringent contract requirements. Metro can customize an existing wallcovering weight, emboss, pattern scale or colour or create a new rendering with quality and character all its own. This may include the use of digital imaging, the translation of a design on a piece of fabric or other non-wallcovering items, a drawing by a designer or simply a logo or brand name.


At Metro Wallcoverings, custom work does not mean more expensive. Customized designs can be extremely cost efficient given their economies of scale and specific criteria that may minimize manufacturing requirements. We invite you to consider the possibilities and then contact your Metro sales representative for more information.

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