Three longtime advocates of local artists and makers kicked off a new level of collaboration this week with an event at the TRYP Hotel in Lawrenceville.
Creating Stand Out Spaces, a workshop co-hosted by the Office of Public Art, Monmade and Casey Droege Cultural Productions (CDCP), attracted nearly 50 property owners, developers, architects and designers for a workshop on bringing locally made art, furnishings and architectural elements into their projects.
The workshop’s message: The growing trend of incorporating works by local makers and artists into construction and renovation projects is easy to embrace, and these organizations can facilitate the process.
Sallyann Kluz, director of the Office of Public Art, spoke about the value of incorporating artworks — like the dramatic terrazzo floor depicting a blue sky scene at Pittsburgh International Airport — into the construction budgets of new projects.
Because the costs for things like flooring and windows are already being budgeted, adding the work of a gifted artist to these elements increases the value of a project without raising the budget by much, Kluz says.
But beginning last fall, “our services have evolved,” Droege says, becoming an official partnership “with the goal of putting on events like this, and reaching out together and offering our complementary, shared services.”
This week’s event was the first in what’s expected to be a series of workshops and events to encourage more collaboration between Pittsburgh’s developers and local makers.
The backdrop for Tuesday night’s gathering, the art-filled TRYP Hotel, served as a prime example of the work these organizations can facilitate. The hotel is home to more than 350 pieces by local artists and makers, ranging from wall-sized art installations and dramatic floors to delicate throw blankets and coffee mugs. Droege and Monmade were instrumental in making that happen.
Along with offering tours of the hotel, the panelists noted other projects elsewhere in Pittsburgh that were made more dramatic thanks to work by local artists. Kluz showed photos of huge windows etched with images of trees that were installed at the Hillcrest assisted living development on Brownsville Road.
Beyond the aesthetic value of work by local makers, Katie Schaible, design and development specialist at Monmade, pointed out that buying items like light fixtures and bar tops from makers with fully local supply chains can help a development qualify for LEED certification.
Droege and Monmade have also begun extending this outreach beyond Pittsburgh.
In October, they attended the Independent Lodging Congress in Los Angeles — an annual conference for boutique hotels. Just as they did for TRYP here in Pittsburgh, they’re offering to help boutique hotel owners elsewhere find local artists and makers to elevate their spaces.
This national outreach has a local benefit: If Droege and Monmade are working with a boutique hotel in another city and can’t find a local maker there to create the perfect light fixture or table, they’ll tap their local contacts to have the item made in Pittsburgh — providing work to a local maker and helping them become nationally recognized.