Hotel 1729

Jo Lawson-Tancred stays at Ruinart, the world’s oldest champagne house, recently reimagined by former LOEWE creative director, Jonathan Anderson

If there’s any downside to staying at a hotel, it’s often having to tolerate the other guests. But Ruinart, the world’s oldest champagne house, is about nothing if not one-off, singular experiences. It has taken the idea of an intimate, boutique hotel to its furthest extreme with the launch of Hotel 1729, a one-night-only, one bedroom hotel that opened in Notting Hill last week. Named after the year Maison Ruinart was founded, Hotel 1729 is open for just 10 nights, allowing one or two residents to reserve its room for a night and invite up to eight guests for an exceptional evening of dining and entertaining, all hosted by Ruinart’s own Maître D’ Olivier Livoir.

The spacious townhouse used for Hotel 1729 has been reimagined by fashion designer and former LOEWE creative director, Jonathan Anderson. The concept is inspired by Jean-François de Troy’s The Oyster Lunch (1735), the first portrayal of champagne being opened and enjoyed in the history of art. The painting established an idea of how we might enjoy champagne; fervently and in high spirits, but also as a way to cherish the company of others and revel in a sense of pomp and ceremony. So Anderson has struck on the idea of ‘etiquette’, less as a limiting set of rules than as a nostalgic practice that shows a level of care over ‘what we are eating and what we are eating from’.

Jonathan Anderson

The dining table has been laid by Anderson to  include traditional ‘Oriental’ blue and white ceramic plates – at least six of different sizes for a long list of courses – and beautifully preserved antique champagne glasses, each one uniquely shaped and with its own story. The overall effect is a contemporary twist on the 18th century customs from a more openly opulent age. The menu served each evening is matched to Ruinart’s cuvées and prepared by Luke Selby, National Chef of The Year 2017 who was head chef at Ollie Dabbous’ HIDE and Dabbous restaurants. 

Every room of the hotel has been filled with historical objects, from Dutch Delftware plates against yellow walls in the entrance hall to two late 19th century Indonesian cloths that look intriguingly like Rothkos, a Henry VII oak cupboard and a 1970s minimalist Peter Nelson floor lamp. The bedroom is an elegant and relaxing space, and against its white walls there is a spotlight on a small 16th century portrait by the miniaturist Jean Clouet.

Throughout the hotel this same contrast of understated interiors with unusual art and design objects prompts us to stop and consider how the past entwines with the present and produces instances of timeless beauty.

Visual AIDS: Loewe x David Wojnarowicz

Jonathan Anderson, creative director of LOEWE, speaks to Port about his new limited edition collection, honouring the legacy of artist and activist David Wojnarowicz

David Wojnarowicz, Untitled (One day this kid…), 1990-91

Just months before being diagnosed with AIDS, artist David Wojnarowicz watched close friend and one-time lover Peter Hujar die from complications of the disease in 1987. He expressed the agony of situation in the way he knew best – a brutally candid and furious account in the essay Close to the Knives and a series of photographs taken at Hujar’s deathbed.

Wojnarowicz – who produced film, installation, sculpture, performance, photography, painting and writing – was uninhibited in his ability to drag the seedy and suppressed aspects of society into the light with an urgency that meant his art can hardly be divorced from his activism. Committed to battling the US government’s denial of the AIDS crisis, which had claimed the lives of so many of his friends, he was an outspoken and daring critic. To him, the inability of the government to react was symptomatic of a marginalisation and neglect that he felt personally, since an abusive childhood left him on the streets, where he fell into prostitution. At a 1988 ACT UP demonstration he marched in a jacket that read: ‘If I die of AIDS – forget burial – just drop my body on the steps of the FDA.’

David Wojnarowicz, Jean Genet Masturbating in Metteray Prison, 1983

Wojnarowicz died in 1992 aged 37, not long before HIV became a manageable virus and ceased to be a death sentence. He had became famous for his art – at times slow and enigmatic, at others fiery and frantic – through his involvement in the East Village art scene of the 1980s, but over the course of his life the struggle against AIDS became his central cause. Inspired by both aspects of Wojnarowicz’s work, director of LOEWE, Jonathan Anderson, is honouring the artist’s legacy by selecting four works by the artist to be reproduced on limited edition T-shirts, with proceeds going to the charity Visual AIDS.

David Wojnarowicz, Untitled (Face in Dirt), 1990

The LOEWE FOUNDATION is also participating in Madrid’s PHotoESPAÑA for the 8th time this year with an exhibition devoted to the photographs of Peter Hujar and David Wojnarowicz running until 26th August. The exhibition features works rarely seen outside of private collections and offers a vision of downtown Manhattan in an era of radical social and political upheaval, revealing the influence Hujar had over Wojnarowicz as a mentor.

David Wojnarowicz, Untitled, c.1982

Growing up I was always aware of David Wojnarowicz’s work. When I first went to Montreal I remember finding a book on him. The emotion of the work really means a lot to me and every time I look to his imagery it provokes a reaction. The 1980s in New York was an amazing moment, where there was a response to political change and political moments, in terms of the AIDS crisis, and people did not hold back in the way they turned to creativity to address their problems.

I was in a meeting one day and I thought I’d really like to do something to help a charity like Visual AIDS, and because I love Wojnarowicz’s work I was thinking how to get the work out there. Both the Worjanorwicz estate and his gallery P.P.O.W were incredibly helpful in making this project happen. I chose the four artworks to show the scope of Wojnarowicz’s work. – Jonathan Anderson

Writer, humorist and cultural commentator Fran Lebowitz will be in conversation with New York art dealer Gracie Mansion to discuss the cultural atmosphere of Worjanorwicz’s New York. 27th June, Mistral Amphitheatre, Palacio de Linares, Madrid.