Built on the largest of the four Fari Islands in the North Mari Atoll, the Patina Maldives is a destination of regeneration and discovery, realized in the size and shape of a small, albeit luxurious, fishing village. Open to guests from the adjacent islands, the hotel will feature a central marketplace packed with amenities including a spa, international restaurants, boutique shopping, and more. Beyond the village, Studio MK27 and an international team of designers, curators, artists, and fabricators are creating an open-air art gallery where, wandering among the trees, guests will encounter site-specific, large-scale commissions by contemporary artists, including America’s legendary James Turrell and prized Mexican artist Jose Dávila.
With much back and forth, Brazilian architect Marcio Kogan and his São Paulo firm Studio MK27 worked directly with Turrell to achieve the exacting specifications of the pavilion while imbuing the structure with the same look and feel of the island’s other amenities. “The structural engineering here was very, very sophisticated,” says Kogan, describing the razor-thin edges required for the ceiling to create these striking effects. The parts were fabricated in Germany and later assembled on site, with the added touch of Studio MK27 DNA again in the form of walls made of vertical wooden slats, designed to add a dance of shadows that continuously change throughout the day.
As an homage to the island’s native vegetation, Talenia Phua Gajardo, director of Singapore-based art consultancy The Artling, commissioned renowned Brazilian photographer Cássio Vasconcellos to capture large scale images of Maldivian flora and fauna for each of the villas, to accentuate the interiors’ tropical sense of place. “Bringing Maldives into the room,” Radomysler says of Vasconcellos’ images, “is a joyful experience for the senses.”
As another way to interact with the land-based outdoors, visitors will be provided with maps that lead to a collection of outdoor sculptures. “The discovery process adds another layer to the guests’ experiences,” says Gajardo, who curated the Patina Maldives collection as a range of artistic encounters that visitors can interact with directly. She worked with both the interior designers and the landscape architects to install the art program, which was treated not as decoration, but as an integral part of the hotel. “Everything is bespoke,” she adds, emphasizing the importance of each work being specifically made for the island.
At the arrival greenhouse, visitors will be greeted by a six-meter-wide textile by Hiroko Takeda, a New York-based artist who trained in the Japanese craft tradition of Mingei Undo. Using blue and green cotton linen yarn, she has woven together a composition of movement and rhythm, light and shadow.
The texture of the heavy resulting fabric is a strong introduction to the other artworks awaiting discovery ahead. All five of them were commissioned specifically for the island by Gajardo, “Every single piece is a different story, a different journey, a different materiality,” she says.
In a clearing among the palm trees, the Netherlands-based Chinese artist Hongjie Yang installed a series of eight mirrored columns directly onto the white sand. Standing at human height and made from marine grade stainless steel that can withstand the tropical elements, the columns’ surfaces alternate between a pristine mirror-polish and craggy, almost volcanic formations. “They’re arranged in a way that causes them to appear as some sort of archeological discovery,” Yang says. As viewers walk through the works, they become immersed in reflections not only of themselves, but their surroundings as well. “The installation is physically and symbolically like a ‘middle ground’ that serves as the connecting point between the viewer and their own deeper connection to the environment, nature, and ultimately the larger universe.”
Down on the beach, FAHR 021.3, a Porto-based studio founded by architects Filipa Frois Almeida and Hugo Reis, have created a simple swooping gesture out of a large slab of white concrete, “Almost like a sail, or a sheet of paper,” says Reis, expanded to the size of a wall. Visitors are invited to interact with it however they like: to jump up and down on it or lie down and take a nap in its curve, like a hammock. “It’s like a small stage that offers as much a sense of freedom as the rest of the island, and at the same time allows people to somehow relate themselves to the surroundings.”
“The Making of Patina’’ is an article in the 2021 issue of Directions, our annual magazine that looks at movements in travel, art, design, food, and wellness. This year’s issue “Odyssey’’ explores the central theme of Walking by inviting a broad range of voices to take a conscious exploration of this simple act.