Cultured Magazine

Winter 2015

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146 CULTURED ART HAUS How Hôtel Americano's alignment with the arts has turned it into the preeminent watering hole for the New York art world. BY MIEKE TEN HAVE PORTRAIT BY DUSTY ST. AMAND There have always been destinations for New York City's titans of industry to power lunch, but rare are those that form a symbiotic relationship with the community they serve. Hôtel Americano, the High Line-adjacent, Minimalist outpost of Grupo Habita in Chelsea, is re-conceptualizing hospitality for an increasingly powerful clientele—the galleries whom they call neighbors. "Grupo Habita built Hôtel Americano at the same time the High Line got built," says the hotel's director of events and partnerships, Andrea Franchini. "They have an intuitive knack for finding art-driven neighborhoods. Now we have Zaha Hadid building a residential project right across the street." Franchini, a young Roman transplant, came to New York to open a pizza chain after successful openings in Rome and Barcelona, but soon found his entrepreneurial spirit best suited for facilitating the kind of relationships that have turned Hôtel Americano into the city's rarified art world club. "We are not that place with cheesy artwork hanging in a lobby," Franchini says. Instead they partner with galleries on a more involved, idiosyncratic level. Case in point: for Mike Bouchet's "Flood" vernissage at Marlborough Chelsea, the gallery marked the occasion with a special performance at the hotel. The rooftop's pool was emptied out, filled with Bouchet's own cola recipe and two female bodybuilders splashed around in the sticky brown liquid. Franchini remembers working with the gallery's director Max Levai on the performance: "We had to seal all the drains—that stuff is very corrosive. It was a total pain in the ass but so fun." The hotel has also aligned itself with a number of art fairs, including last month's Salon Art + Design. "It's the first time we are branching out on the Upper East Side," says Franchini, of the hotel's temporary restaurant at the fair. "Of course we want to sponsor the art community, but we are firstly a business," says Franchini. "It's about establishing the right relationship. Sometimes we collaborate—which is our way of showing them how much we appreciate their loyalty. And, if there's something we can do that's mutually beneficial, we do it." And an art destination it has certainly become. Day-to-day regulars found having a cappuccino or meeting with important collectors include Paul Kasmin, Barbara Gladstone, Marianne Boesky and Andrea Rosen to name but a few. For Franchini, though, supporting the community without singling out particular artists remains a delicate line to walk. "Of course we have to be politically correct, but it also doesn't make sense to stage art shows," he says. "Let the galleries do their job, and we'll do ours." Andrea Franchini at Will Ryman's "Two Rooms" at Paul Kasmin Gallery.

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