Es Devlin's latest installation is set inside a Miami hotel room
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Es Devlin's latest installation is set inside a Miami hotel room

Set designer Es Devlin has created an immersive installation at the Miami Beach Edition Hotel, which is inspired by the experience of waking up in an unfamiliar hotel room.

Called Room 2022, the work was launched during this year's art week in Miami. It marked the British set designer's first site-specific art installation in the city, and her first in a hotel.

Es Devlin Miami installation

The experiential work takes guests on a journey through a series of abstract spaces, including a mirror maze similar to the one that Devlin created in Peckham for Chanel in 2016.

It begins in a deceptively normal hotel room, numbered 2022. Here, guests are seated and watch as one of the walls – which appears initially as a window overlooking Miami beach – reveals itself to be a video screen.

Es Devlin Miami installation

As the curtains are drawn across the window, the room falls into darkness. As the sun rises a single line of light peeks through the curtains.

Devlin's voice plays out over speakers: "I woke up to a single line of light, my only point of reference to anything. I didn't know which room, or which country, or where the door was. I knew only this single line."

Es Devlin Miami installation

From this glowing line, Devlin draws an abstract plan of a hotel, room-by-room, floor-by-floor. The lines of the plan turn into 3D drawings and renderings that show endless hotel corridors that morph into a multicoloured zoetrope and maze of mirrors.

Es Devlin Miami installation

Devlin's voiceover continues: "It might seem like a leap of imagination to extend this fantastical geometry from a single line, but is it really such a surprising feat, compared to what we all need to agree to believe, every time we stay in a hotel?"

As the screen returns to a single line of vertical light, it opens, and visitors are invited through the wall of the hotel room.

Es Devlin Miami installation

They then emerge into a series of maze-like hotel corridors where the sounds of previous guests are overlaid.

Here, guests are allowed to explore freely trying different doors as they go  – some open, while others are locked. Different doors will be locked and opened on different days, so guests returning later in the week won't be able to retrace their steps.

Through the maze of doors, visitors find their way into a semi-cylindrical, water-flooded, colour video-saturated zoetrope, which Devlin describes as "something like the hippocampus meets hippodrome of the hotel: As if every snatch of life that the hotel can remember were overlaid here and allowed to gallop in a looped cycle around you."

Es Devlin Miami installation

From this space, two doors lead guests into a vaulted elliptical mirror maze. Here, walls and corridors have been bent, sliced through and mirrored. Guests see each other reflected inverted in the sliced walls and mirrored ceilings.

According to Devlin, this space is intended as "an exploration of what hotel corridors might look like if they had drunk the combined imaginations of all of their occupants".

Es Devlin Miami installation

"Hotels have offered an architectural metaphor for psychological and social systems in countless works of art, film and literature," said Devlin a statement. "Like so many systems of civil organization, hotels work because everyone takes part in these invisible daily heroic acts of collective imagination."

"This work playfully explores what might happen if this combined imaginative force could be turned back and ingested by the system itself, and how it might manifest in its architecture."

Es Devlin Miami installation

Devlin is known internationally for her award-winning stage sculptures for stars such as singer Katy Perry, her catwalk show sets for the likes of Louis Vuitton, as well as for her work on the world’s most celebrated performance stages including The Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera House, Royal Ballet and the London and Rio Olympic Ceremonies.

Earlier this year, she was awarded the London Design Medal.

"Much of my time is spent in large-scale empty arena spaces, in the dark, crafting and programming the light. Whichever city the tour arrives in, the light will carve out the performance in the same forms," she said.

"I find myself travelling between arenas and stadia all over the world, and perhaps because light is one of the prime materials in my work, I tend to eat, sleep and dream it."

Es Devlin Miami installation

Room 2022 was on show at the Miami Beach Edition Hotel during the city's art and design week, from 7 to 10 December.

Photography and video by Radical Media.