Founder of The Curator's Apartment

27/ Hang With Tina Liu

In this Hang With feature, we step into The Curator’s Apartment, founded by the talented and stylish property developer, Tina Liu. Based in a Grade II listed building in the Walcot area of Bath, art is part of the identity of this holiday-rental and has also become the new home for its own Artist Residency offering emerging artists a stay in the apartment in return for a work of art.

Here we chat to Tina about the importance of creativity in the apartment, her all-time favourite artworks, the apartment essentials as well as her exciting upcoming projects.

 

 

Tell us about yourself and how The Curator’s Apartment came to be.

After a decade-long career in the city as a trader and investment manager, I left in 2019 to discover and start something I’d feel truly passionate about. The answer turned out to be property development, but rather than new builds I was much more interested in renovations, breathing new air and personality into old and unloved properties. 

I have always been interested in design, as a keen traveller I’m one of those people that would choose a hotel based on its interior design rather than location. I feel while there are many wonderful boutique hotels out there, the design of holiday rental properties were generally bland, and increasingly looked very much the same - it doesn’t matter where you go to in the world. So I’m working towards a new brand of modern contemporary apartment hotels, with The Curator’s Apartment being the first of that concept.

I wanted the property to be authentic and not to look or feel too commercial, so I based the furnishing concept on a made-up personality who is the owner of the apartment. Drawing inspiration from its surroundings, the line of antique shops and independents that define Walcot Street, I thought this could be the home of a Curator. A person that loves a mixture of the old and the new, and would have more traditional forms of art hanging on the walls, as well as more “gallery like” installations and vases on plinths. 

 

Almost Sunrise by David Hardy



How would you describe the atmosphere of the apartment and how has the art influenced that feeling?

My primary aim was to create a calm and earthy atmosphere, where guests would feel comfortable and at peace. The apartment would be more than just a space to sleep, by decorating and filling the space with interesting art and objects, I hope the apartment encourages the guests to take their schedule a bit slower, to notice the beauty of what surrounds them, and to enjoy life at a slower pace.

I realise what we have is a city apartment not a country retreat, but a city weekend away doesn’t have to be hectic, and I believe we could all do with a little dose of calmness wherever we are.

The art and objects are certainly the stars of the apartment, drawing interest and “stealing” attention as the guests move around in the apartment for a moment of peace and appreciation of the present. We commissioned bespoke pieces  and placed them in places so that art forms surround corners of the apartment not just placed on a wall. 


 




Who are your favourite interior designers/ stylists?

I personally prefer a quieter and more understated interior style.  I’m often drawn to the spaces styled by Colin King, the spaces he puts together are simple and minimalistic yet warm, authentic and inspiring. Rose Uniacke is also another great inspiration, her style of mixing the old and new, and in doing so creating a look that is both classic and contemporary, is something we used in decorating The Curator’s Apartment.


 

Did you have a clear idea of what you wanted the space to look like?

I was quite clear on the feeling I wanted the renovated space to achieve, which is to create a calm space that pays tribute to its heritage as the building is a Grade II listed building, but also has a more contemporary vibe. I also pinned some favourite pieces of furnishing and artists that I wanted to work with.  But the colour scheme was not defined, I worked with Nina from Room Studio which is locally based, acting as a consultant, particularly on the colour front, and also giving advice on some of the fixtures and furnishing. 

While looking for artworks, I came across David Hardy's work on Instagram via Partnership Editions and fell in love with "Almost Sunrise" instantly. The composition is minimalistic and abstract which I love, while at the same time the navy tone makes it also a very elegant piece. The title then brought on more imagination. This was during the first lockdown when things looked quite bleak, so I saw the painting as a ray of "almost sunrise" light. When I look at it I imagine myself in David's shoes, standing before these impressive Welsh hills at sunrise when the light is so faint the hills are still an almost black colour, yet the light is increasing and the sun will rise. It brings me a sense of positivity.

 


 

If you could have any artwork in the world what would it be?

Anything by Georgia O'Keeffe would be a total dream, she was my favourite artist during my teenage years. I remember spending a whole Saturday painting “Two Calla Lillies on Pink '' in watercolour for my GCSE art coursework. My favourite work of hers is either “Lake George (1922)” or “Pedernal (1945)”.

 

Lake George by Georgia O’Keeffe, 1922
 

 

How did the Artist Residency come about?

I have huge respect for artists that follow their passion and would like to offer my support where I can.  2020 has been a difficult year for most of us, so I thought this would be a nice way to support each other, in exchanging a complimentary stay in return for a piece of art. We’d ideally like to always add new works to our collection displayed in our holiday apartments so that our guests that return in a later year would have something new to discover. The artist residency programme would certainly help in achieving this.

 



What essentials do you always keep at home for guests?

Our apartment is made for long stays as well as short stays, so there is a hairdryer, tumble dryer, dishwasher, coffee pod machine, iron as well as personal essentials like Bramley shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, hand wash, hand cream. There are also design magazines, books, and Netflix in case of bad weather the guests find themselves unexpectedly spending more time indoors. 

 



What’s your favourite piece or corner in the apartment?

I absolutely love the path walking from the living room up to the upper floor, as you turn in the hallways, you’re first greeted by a tall “tube-shaped” bronze vase on the wall, then you’ll catch a glimpse of the bespoke floral hanging piece made by Deborah at Lunaria Somerset. The colours and form of this is stunning, and I had the pleasure of seeing it being made and taking shape in the apartment. I’ve named this piece “The Autumn Between Us”, as longing for a more normal autumn that is more associated with harvest and fruition.

 





What are you looking forward to in the future of The Curator’s Apartment?

Our team is looking forward to a more “normal” 2021, to welcome guests to The Curator’s Apartment, as well as having our first artists staying under the Artist Residency programme.

I’m also working on another holiday rental space in central Bath, it has taken a little longer than original expected to add to the collection of holiday rental properties but my aim from the beginning was to create a small collection of contemporary apartment hotels, where each one is an individually crafted space with its own identity and personality, yet with our core values also embedded so it feels harmonious as a collection. It’s still early days but the new project will have more of a touch of “vintage” inspired from the history of the building itself.

As our collection of holiday rentals grows, we’d be looking to introduce a concierge service as well, hopefully starting in late 2021.

 

 

FOLLOW TINA
@thecurators_apartment
www.thecuratorsapartment.com

Photography by Toby Mitchell



Tina 's curation

  • Mallow Sold
    Mallow | Laurie Maun | Original Artwork | Partnership Editions

    This little piece would look great in an entrance or hallway on its own. Its little shapes bring interest and draw attention at an entrance, and I can also imagine each time walking pass it, having only a brief couple of seconds to capture the work, it would look and feel slightly different each time depends on where of the painting you focus on.

    Vendor
    Laurie Maun
    Regular price
    Sold
    Sale price
    £200.00
    Unit price
    per 
  • Rise & Fall Sold
    Rise & Fall | David Hardy | Original Artwork | Partnership Editions

    Another simple but very elegant piece by David Hardy, the name makes me think of waves in an open sea, rise and fall in a natural rhythm. Something quite calm about this piece. Would look stunning against a muted colour wall (a dark beige, a warm grey, or a muted grey-green).

    Vendor
    David Hardy
    Regular price
    Sold
    Sale price
    £800.00
    Unit price
    per 
  • August Sold
    August

    I love to bring more texture into a room rather than just canvas, and this is a perfect way to add more interest to the walls.

    Vendor
    Emily Forgot
    Regular price
    Sold
    Sale price
    £550.00
    Unit price
    per 
  • Garden Forms IV Sold
    Garden Forms IV | Lisa Hardy | Original Artwork | Partnership Editions

    Love the muted colours and organic form, the touch of vibrate orange dot really brings this piece to life.

    Vendor
    Lisa Hardy
    Regular price
    Sold
    Sale price
    £380.00
    Unit price
    per 

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