Art in hotels is nothing new. But what about a hotel inside an artist’s studio?
From the outside, artist co-working space and gallery Blender Studios looks like any other nondescript warehouse. Everywhere else though, it’s teeming with life.
The back entrance, via a laneway, is covered in a chaotic mix of multi-layered graffiti and artworks. Inside, on the ground level, a mishmash of street, performance and fine artists are at work in 24 artists’ studios. The studios don’t have doors – to foster the cross-pollination of ideas – so you can wander the maze of works-in-progress and interact with “The Blenders”, which is encouraged.
But upstairs, Blender Loft – a mini-hotel in the form of a one-bedroom private apartment – is quite the opposite. For one, you have doors. The space is large and soothingly stripped-back, a calming juxtaposition to downstairs. And it’s light thanks to large windows that also provide city views.
While you’ll also find comforts that come standard in most hotels (robes, a coffee machine, a minibar and comfy queen-sized bed), there are a few that don’t, such as a rainwater shower with an in-built Bluetooth speaker, in case you feel like belting out some tunes while you wait for the conditioner to sink in. There’s also a yoga mat, complimentary non-alcoholic drinks and a basic kitchenette with a microwave.
But the space wouldn’t be complete without the loft’s reason for being: art.
“From my perspective, no one was doing an art hotel,” says Blender Studios director Adrian Doyle. “They say it is, but it’s all very commercial. There was no one doing a stay in an art studio. [And] the loft helps us keep the rent affordable for the artists.”
Doyle is referring to Melbourne’s Art Series Hotels, which are full of works by successful Australian contemporary artists such as John Olsen, Adam Cullen and Charles Blackman. The loft, though, is dedicated to showing only pieces from lesser-known Blender Studios artists. A selection of works are rotated through the room every three months, and most are for sale – that might mean tiny installations by Tinky or black and white prints by Man of Darkness.
If you just can’t get enough of the Melbourne art scene, you can visit the gallery space downstairs, and the team also hosts street-art tours and stencilling workshops.
“We actually had a woman stay who works in a juvenile prison in Tasmania,” Doyle says. “She did one of our workshops so she could take the skills to teach the kids.”
The loft is located in West Melbourne on the edge of the CBD. It’s a few minutes’ walk from Queen Victoria Market and a 15-minute walk from Southern Cross Station.
Blender Loft is at 33–35 Dudley Street, West Melbourne. Prices start at $199 per night, twin share.