Thursday, June 21, 2012

Lifestylism trying too hard

London's Bankside district is filling out. The Tate Modern extension continues and those Neo Bankside blocks, credited with being a riverside development even though they are not on the river, are nearly ready, though the 'Bankside mix' is still several units short of a full house. And now onto Southwark Street comes CitizenM, a hip and modern hotel with branches in Glasgow and across the Netherlands and also coming to Paris and New York.

What's interesting here is the language used to promote their hotel. In contrast to the stolid and utilitarian Mercure, Rose and All Seasons hotels nearby, CitizenM is big on brand, and does its level best to make much, much more out of what for most is a decent place to stay for the night. Its target market is the hip traveller who is solvent and doesnt mind spending the best part of £150 even though they're likely to see very little of the room.

In its blurb it tries to reach out to the "mobile citizens of the world- the suits, weekenders, explorers, affair-havers and fashion-grabbers looking for boutique hotel accommodations". 'Affairs-havers', such a cutesy, awkward term for adultery. But if you do, have your guilt assuaged by doing it in stylishly expensive surroundings.

Greeting their guests is a specially commissioned Mark Titchner piece. Another World Is Possible, which does it bit in bigging up the place by using what could be a very political slogan in the context of a chic hotel (he has another piece nearby). But try as you might you can't sublimate a convenient night's stay into an 'experience' and you can almost smell the corporate desperation. But the ongoing onslaught of lifestylism thrives in a happy state of denial on the side of both consumer and corporation. In Bankside, where after the Tate the biggest draw is a faux-medieveal theatre and where that great pyramid pop-up in the sky The Shard draws you attention, this seems somehow appropriate.

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