On the Rise

Design Anthology - - Wanderlust - Text JJ Acuna Im­ages Yongk­wan Kim, cour­tesy of RYSE Ho­tel

Lo­cated in Seoul’s buzzy Hong­dae dis­trict, RYSE Ho­tel has firmly po­si­tioned it­self — both lit­er­ally, in a Ginza-es­que area pop­u­lated with art stu­dents and seedy un­der­ground hip-hop clubs, and fig­u­ra­tively — in the space where art, street cul­ture and de­sign meet.

De­signed by Soho House’s orig­i­nal de­signer Michaelis Boyd, RYSE is a de­sign-fo­cused ho­tel, but it’s by no means your run-of-themill de­sign ho­tel, in­stead opt­ing for an ac­tive role in the cre­ative com­mu­nity. Ac­cord­ing to the ho­tel’s brand direc­tor Ja­son Sch­labach, show­cas­ing cre­ativ­ity within lo­cal and global com­mu­ni­ties and fos­ter­ing a new cul­ture in hos­pi­tal­ity through its art part­ner­ships form part of its re­mit.

This is echoed in the phys­i­cal struc­ture; rooms in­clude the Cre­ator Room, Ed­i­tor Room, Artist Suite and Pro­ducer Suite, while a topfloor pent­house-cum-events space is dubbed the Ex­ec­u­tive Pro­ducer Suite, planned as an apart­ment trans­formable for every­thing from pri­vate din­ners to trunk shows, run­ways, popup pre­sen­ta­tions and even con­certs. These la­bels cre­ate the sense that the rooms, out­fit­ted with art­works by Hong Kong- and Paris-based Lau­rent Se­gretier and Tokyo-based Charles Munka, and with ti­tles by Wolf­gang Till­mans sit­ting on be­spoke Dichroic pris­matic glass ta­bles, are meant to in­spire cre­ativ­ity. And in­spire they do: most re­cently Ber­lin graf­fiti crew 1UP left be­hind a mu­ral on one of the ho­tel’s sur­faces, adding an­other site-spe­cific work to the pub­lic and pri­vate spa­ces. The process was un­planned, serendip­i­tous and wel­come.

RYSE also runs cul­tural events each month that are open to guests and other com­mu­ni­ties. An in­ti­mate work­shop with Vans had guests cre­at­ing zines, while a VIP party for a ma­jor fash­ion house made use of the ho­tel’s vin­tage vinyl lathe so 120 guests could take home records pro­duced by the guest DJ. Most re­cently, Shade Seoul, a monthly ur­ban party show­cas­ing the best in drag and bur­lesque per­for­mances, cel­e­brated its two-year an­niver­sary in the Ex­ec­u­tive Pro­ducer Suite.

Sch­labach and his in-house agency, the ‘cul­ture team’, have made field­ing col­lab­o­ra­tive pro­pos­als a pri­or­ity. Each day the team as­sesses part­ner­ship re­quests by artists and cre­atives from around the world to gauge whether a col­lab­o­ra­tion would be the right fit for RYSE.

‘There’s no amount of money that one can pay to have au­then­tic­ity cre­ated, if it ’s not com­ing from within the ho­tel’s own or­gan­i­sa­tion,’ he says of the team and the global rise of art­meets-ho­tel projects and mem­bers’ ho­tels. ‘You can make a splash in the short term with an In­sta­gram-ready art­work by Jeff Koons, but if it’s not deeper than that and the projects aren’t be­ing up­dated, then peo­ple will re­alise it ’s a one-off and it ’ll even­tu­ally be ir­rel­e­vant to their lives.’

Fol­low­ing the suc­cess of RYSE in Seoul, con­ver­sa­tions for global ex­pan­sion are cur­rently un­der­way; with luck, it can spread its model of com­mu­nity-cen­tric pro­gram­ming and au­then­tic­ity.

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