A raft of designers contracted to Guest Hotels expect to be left tens of thousands of pounds out of pocket after the buy-to-let hotel rooms group fell into administration last week.
Architect Dream Design & Architecture, graphic design group Alexander Boxhill and curatorial design duo Marcus Fairs and Rupinder Bhogal of Dezeen, which were all working on projects for Guest, say it is now highly unlikely that they will be paid for their design contracts. Guest was being funded by credit crunch-stricken bank HBOS. Dream Design & Architecture has been working on three projects for Guest, including a ‘light refurbishment’ and interiors work for The Jones Hotel in Bayswater, London W2, as well as hotels Nest in Bayswater, W2 and The Chiswell Street Hotel in the City, EC1.
Dezeen and Alexander Boxhill were both commissioned to work on Guest Hotel’s design exhibition, Menagerie at The Jones – a thematic high-profile showcase of international product and furniture design, intended to launch The Jones Hotel during the London Design Festival and put it on the ‘design map’, according to Fairs.
‘The show was supposed to open in mid-September, but we were told about three weeks beforehand that, due to construction problems with the hotel, it wouldn’t open until during the Frieze Art Fair [in mid-October],’ says Fairs.
‘Then we were told it would be postponed until the New Year. After that, we got nervous and assumed it wouldn’t happen, and it was only at this point that we heard that the hotel group had gone into administration.’
Fairs had garnered interest from high-profile design names and secured previously unseen prototypes from a host of international designers (see box).
He says, ‘It’s an incredible waste of a good idea and everyone’s time. Thank God none of the designers involved have lost out [financially] – most of them were sending pieces that they had already created and didn’t go out of their way for the exhibition – but they have lost out on a fantastic opportunity to show work.’
Fairs adds, ‘The very sobering thought is that if a company as robust as Guest Hotels can suddenly cease to exist, we’ve all got to be careful. How do you know that the contract you have is secure? Designers come in at the bottom of the chain for payment. There are going to be some tough scary times ahead. You don’t know when the rug can be pulled out from under your feet.’
Menagerie at the jones participants
Front, Harry Allen, Hella Jongerius, Jaime Hayón, Julia Lohmann, Kelly McCallum, Maxim Velcovsky, Michael Sans, Miriam van der Lubbe, Niels van Eikj, Polly Morgan, Richard Hutten, Stephen Johnson
Vitra, Nymphenburg, Lladró, Thorsten van Elten, Moooi, Albion Gallery, Gallery Fumi, Bosa