words: Odyssia Houstis
photography: Georg Roske + Patina Maldives, Ritz-Carlton Maldives & The Artling
issue 1 – in love with Switzerland

‘Momento’ by Fahr 021.3
Image courtesy of Georg Roske & Patina Maldives

The Artling has expanded and now offer their services in Europe. Manou Steiger leads Business Development in Europe for The Artling team based in Zurich. With a degree in Business and a Master’s degree in digital marketing, she combines her knowledge of both fields, implementing business strategies with media/marketing techniques. Manou also has extensive industry background that ranges from fashion to art. She was the former Managing Editor of the Swiss edition of L’Officiel, L’Officiel Homme & L’Officiel Art.

Manou Steiger

When you finished working for L’Officiel, what was the reason to move to Singapore?

After having worked for L’Officiel for four years, both my husband and I were looking for a new challenge. After having completed my master’s studies at ESSEC university, I was ready for a change and was looking for a new creative challenge. One of the first people we met when moving to Singapore was Talenia Phua-Gajardo, the founder of The Artling and the love story began from there.

Talenia Phua-Gajardo

When did you realize the potential that The Artling had to offer in Switzerland? 

I had been following Talenia’s work for two years before beginning to work for The Artling. When I started, I began working for her as an Art Consultant, helping them on various projects they had going on in Asia at that time. Prior to starting at The Artling, Talenia had told me about the amazing projects they were involved with. In 2019, The Artling had set up their base in Shanghai, starting to expand their services.

When she told me about their clients and how they help them build up their collections and how they merge blue chip pieces with decorative works for hotels, it rang a bell for me. There is no such thing in Europe or in Switzerland specifically. There is a huge fear of walking into a gallery, and yet people love surrounding themselves with beautiful things. Art can be a very elite and closed circle, and a lot of people who could even afford it, don’t dare to walk into a gallery, especially in Switzerland. They always think ‘this is not for me’ or ‘I don’t know this’, ‘I don’t know what to invest in’. I thought why not make art more accessible to everyone in Europe and cater to all budgets? The next step would be to expand to Europe.

How does your process work?

We offer end-to-end consulting services which means we are part of the project from the initial concept up to supervising the final installation of the artwork.

Our goal is to create a coherent styling for the space; we discuss budgets, timelines, and wishes. We are so plugged in with the art world that when we see a piece, we know exactly how it would fit for each client. After the client has chosen the artworks, we organize all the steps up to the final hanging of the artwork onto the wall. Every step is covered and cared for by The Artling.

Installation by Hongjie Yang
Image Courtesy of Patina Maldives

What are the differences, in the Asian market versus the European and Swiss Markets?

There is fairly new wealth in many parts of Asia who want to invest in art but don’t know what to buy and how to start their collection. The second-generation wealth who lived abroad in London, New York, or Paris for example, were surrounded by art and design on a daily basis and would like to replicate this environment in their hometown. They invest big amounts into real estate and are looking for advisors to help giving them access and knowledge to acquire the right pieces to go with their new condos or hotels. That’s where we come in.  

Installation by Sebastian di Mauro
Image Courtesy of The Ritz Carlton Maldives

Are people in Switzerland as responsive to the power of art and strategic art placement?

More and more so. The reason we brought this idea to Europe and Switzerland is that we saw all these pop-up restaurants everywhere, young galleries, and events like Mode Suisse coming together. I believe it is a generational shift that is happening. Similar as to our Asian market, many of us who had moved abroad are coming back and wanting to implement new trends in Switzerland. I am convinced that this shift will increase soon, and that the perception of art collecting will change.

What excites you most about this new role you have taken on?

I have always loved implementing ideas and seeing it come into fruition. Bringing The Artling to Europe will hopefully facilitate a change in thinking and behavior towards art and design collecting and I can already tell by my client’s feedback, that our services is something they have never seen or experienced before. This is my favorite part of my job.

What are the most inspirational and fulfilling moments you have in your work? Which moments do you say, ‘I love my job’.

The most satisfying part is when the artwork is delivered and installed, and we sit there with the client and enjoy the completion of our collaboration together. Seeing how a piece of art can simply transform the entire space and give our clients joy, every time they walk into the space – This feeling is priceless!

Ukiyo’ by Maahy, executed by Shimhaq/Cartman Ayya
Image Courtesy of The Ritz Carlton Maldives

What are examples of projects from The Artling that take your breath away?

The newly opened hotel, the Patina Maldives. It was incredibly beautiful to see how well the chosen artworks and sculptures merged with the tropical surrounding of the hotel.

At the moment we are working on a six-star property in Sydney which is located in an old historical building. We are sourcing 1200 artworks in total, all from Australian artists.  For projects like this we work very closely with the interior designers who give us the rendering, and we know exactly how the space is designed to look and feel. It’s not only about making sure the artwork fits – we have to be sure of additional more technical details. The background of our founder Talenia, who is a Zaha Hadid alumnus, has proven helpful in so many instances. There are many details that we pay attention to – more than one might expect – in the completion of our projects, both large and small.