This Hotel Doubles as an Art Gallery

Art is at the heart of the Silks Club in Kaohsiung, where guests can see the work of over 200 artists before even leaving the hotel


Originally a fishing village, the southern Taiwanese port city of Kaohsiung developed into a bustling, industrial shipping hub and is now moulding itself as a base for culture and creativity. case in point is the recently opened Silks Club hotel, where the work of over 200 artists is showcased in more unusual settings. ‘You can’t see this type of art anywhere else here, so when we opened it was a challenge locally. We decided to show all of the pieces without protective barriers so our visitors can enjoy the art and also learn to respect it,’ Shao Yaman, CEO of ALIEN Art Centre and curator of the Silks Club art collection explains.

The serene hotel showcases an intriguing melange of both emerging local artists and renowned international names, and most are inspired by the area’s local heritage. One of the most striking pieces is ART+COM Studios’ Dancing Particles, which takes pride of place in the lobby. The motion art sculpture features 168 metal spheres that float and dance above a pool of water, evoking the vital role water has played in the city’s identity.

Artworks appear throughout the hotel, from the spa and swimming pool to the lift lobby on each floor. On the 28th floor, for example, is Lunar Watch by Olafur Eliasson, which comprises twelve glass spheres that reflect a lunar cycle. In each guest room, a piece of purchasable art is also displayed. ‘We want to promote local artists and let our guests buy into a dream. We’re also building trust with our customers, since we have to trust them not to damage the artworks,’ Yaman explains. The sprawling top-floor presidential suite is full of oil paintings created by Yaman herself, as well as exquisite calligraphy written by the hotel’s founder.

Even the room size was inspired by their shared passion for art. ‘We made sure that each room is spacious so our guests have more room to interact with our art,’ Shao shares. The large rooms include Falomo mattresses, Kohler bathtubs and responsive design with natural materials such as pink marble and wood throughout.

The decor evokes a Japanese aesthetic that is echoed in the exquisite dining options, which includes the first bar outside of Japan from the famed Japanese sake brand Dassai as well as two UKAI TEI restaurants. Both the Grill Ukai Kaohsiung and Ukai-tei Teppanyaki restaurants were designed by interior designer Hashimoto Yukio, and are connected by a stunning spiral staircase. Given the hotel’s proximity to the harbour, the design team could ship the staircase in one piece and place into the hotel before building the restaurant around it.

Text / Babette Radclyffe-Thomas
Images / Courtesy of Silks Club

Look out for our Kaohsiung art and culture guide in the upcoming issue of Design Anthology