vancouver: grand hotel - redesigning modern life

© rachel topham - entrance to the exhibition

these days there's a growing number of hotels - often upscale, but not necessarily so - that go beyond the perimeters of the hospitality business and take on the guise of a lifestyle utopia. the hotel is an identifiable space that combines the private and public realms, and is inextricably connected to the history of social and cultural change of a specific place. currently on at the vancouver art gallery is grand hotel - redesigning modern life, an exhibition which sheds light on the evolution of the hotel, from a utilitarian concept to the cultural phenomenon that it is today around the planet. the title of the show is in part a reference to the influential hollywood film grand hotel [1932] in which the social frolicking between individual hotel guests is scrutinized.

the movie rather brilliantly demonstrates the hotel as a real and symbolic platform for human interaction and ideas. but let's go back to the exhibition. seen from a global perspective, it features four main themes - travel, design, the social and culture - that explore the vital role of travel and design in the development of the hotel, as well as its important role as a place of social interaction and cultural production. each theme represents an aspect that has shaped today's meaning of the hotel, while collectively they define its role as a veritable laboratory, showcase and barometer of modern lifestyle [on through sep 15]. location: 750 hornby street [downtown].

© rachel topham - canadian pacific hotels on map, model of new york's waldorf astoria hotel, arne jacobsen's egg chair [top to bottom]