FAULT Interviews Pullman London Artist in Residence Louisa Gagliardi

Louisa Gagliardi Pullman London

Swiss graphic designer and illustrator Louisa Gagliardi was perhaps an unlikely winner of Pullman Hotel’s artist in residency competition. Run in conjunction with Wallpaper* Magazine, artists were invited to submit work based around the hotel chains theme of ‘Our World is Your Playground’. As the winner, Louisa was awarded £10,000 and a week-long residency in the St Pancras, London hotel to create work inspired by the space. What she has created combines surrealism and an almost unnerving ‘Alice in Wonderland’ quality with a modern, graphic design twist. Though quite a commercial style, we spoke to Louisa at the unveiling of her work to understand a bit more about why this brief was made for her.

Why did you put yourself forward for the residency?

I saw the announcement and honestly, it was written for me! The ‘Our World is Your Playground’ for me it was this image of furniture and design elements and in my illustrations that’s exactly what I do. I use what’s around me and I create surrealist compositions so I had to apply.

You’re only 26, this must be exciting…

Yeah, it comes at a perfect time because I just opened my own studio in 2015 so it’s also a great help. It’s the moment to do all these extraordinary things and it’s good promotion.

How have you incorporated the theme of ‘Our World is Your Playground’ in the pieces?

In my work I use a lot of space, a lot of architecture, a lot of design elements and objects so the hotel was the best playground ever because of all these different spaces in one place. You have restaurants, a gym, concert room, lounges and all this different furniture, so I had all these elements to play with. I just take a picture and retrace it and it’s mine. So it was a great playground!

Louisa Gagliardi illustrator

What have you most enjoyed about the residency?

When I arrived, I went up to my room and it’s a penthouse suite! To be honest it was amazing. On the top floor with a crazy view of the city, honestly it was three times the size of my apartment! I really enjoyed that. I love hotels but I never quite experienced a hotel like this so it’s going to be hard to go back to a normal room. Everybody here was so super nice and I felt quite at home pretty quickly.

What are you planning to spend the £10,000 on?

Well, like I said I just opened my studio so it’s going to mostly go into that, security and invest also in some personal projects that I want to pursue. It’s a great help for a starting illustrator.

Your work includes some elements of surrealism. How do you unleash your imagination?

Well, I look a lot at art. I’m a big fan of Picasso and de Chirico, so I spend a lot of my time looking at images. I guess somehow it all mixes together with my own personal ideas so I think that it’s art history that helps me unleash it and transform it into a more contemporary translation.

Louisa Gagliardi artist
Louisa Gagliardi answers questions from the crowd at her exhibition

Do you have any favourite pieces that you’ve created while you’ve been here?

I’m really focussed on these miniature objects which, to me, are very iconic of hotels: mini shampoo, the mini sewing kit. I also then decided to use some architectural spaces and blow some objects up within this space. There are a few of the restaurant and on top is a collage of a giant lobster and for me this one is really fun. It’s a bit of a reference to Jeff Koons as well and it’s almost like an advertisement.

What’s your FAULT?

Well, now it might be being too used to hotel life!