- “I wanted to help draw guests into an immersive experience in which they can relax and feel the waves and textures of the island.” – Dough Johston – Coiled
Joali immersive art motif is not merely about immersing yourself amongst an expansive collection of art, but also becoming part of the art itself. Not just the piece of artwork, but the surroundings of paradise that frame it, imbue it and inspire it.
One of my favourite parts of an art museum is the seating. After a few hours of standing and soaking in the works of creativity, weary legs can do battle with energized eyes. I especially appreciate seats situated directly opposite particularly engaging works so I can stop and take the piece in a literally relaxed manner. Joali doesn’t just have seating to enjoy its works…the seating are the works. The best collection of artistic seating I’ve seen since the Copenhagen Design Museum. With the added distinction that you can actually sit in them (and are encouraged to do so as a part of the immersive process.
- “These works at JOALI are vessels that carry my past. They now breath the air of the MALDIVES and their surfaces will absorb the heat of this wonderful island. They will now listen to stories and befriend guests as they live and age.” – Reinaldo Senguino – Ceramic Mini Stools [BELOW]
- “Combining traditional technique with playful fabrication, my work embraces – and at the same time protests – functionalism…” – Chris Wolston – Terra Cotta Furniture [BOTTOM]
A resort buffet staple are a selection of some nutty bits in the form of muesli or granola for topping ones yogurt. As a bit of a breakfast condiment, it’s not an item with lots of variety…except at Joali. They set out an entire table filled with bowls of nuts and dried fruits of every type imaginable. Aside from people who are just very particular about their legumes, the obvious beneficiaries were the growing number of vegans in the world. Often making do with the scraps of selection, a Joali they have a banquet of choice for one of the few sources of protein in their diet.
The art of the meal.
Even the seats in the kids club washroom are sculptures at Joali…Frog Bog!
“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” ― Pablo Picasso
Joali has created one of the most beautiful Maldivian properties.
Lori thinks it is the most splendid of the 100 we have now visited (I couldn’t make such an assertion as there are just too many apples-to-oranges aesthetics to compare). For example, Soneva uses the natural rough-hewn materials as its design palette. LUX North Male Atoll opts for striking contemporary hues to reflect the natural beauty. Joali has made itself a garden of artistry depicting inspired interpretations of this paradise.
In the ethereal segment of the Super-Premium 5-star, the typical differentiator is the “Wow-factor”. Sort of an X-Factor for guest experience that makes the property stand out in a clear and explicit way. It’s not just incrementally ratcheting up the Michelin stars of the food, or exclusivity of the wine cellar, or the thread count on the linen, but rather a step-change element which makes the whole place stand out from any other. For Joali it is their island-sized gallery of art, inside and outside, which provides a ubiquitous museum-quality exhibition of creative renditions of the tropical and indigenous themes that frame it:
- “You will be delighted when you realize that Joali is the first and only art-immersive hotel in the Maldives. The island is infused with interactive and experiential artistic pieces that you have never encountered before. The Art Map of the hotel pinpoint all the art and sculptural pieces you can discover. Some of these pieces are created in collaboration with artists and local arttisans in order to support the local community and to revive the artisanal works made in the Maldives. If you are a collector, some of these unique pieces will be available for purchase as well.”
One of my favourite kids activities in the Maldives are treasure hunts. Joali is like a treasure hunt of [artistic] gems for adults.
The collection includes specially commissioned works from the following internationally distinguished artists:
- Ardmore Ceremics (South Africa)
- Chris Wolston (USA)
- Doug Johnson (Canada)
- Teleksan Onar (Turkey)
- Studio Glithero (Engaldn)
- John Paul Phillip (USA)
- Misha Khan (USA)
- Porky Hefer (South Africa)
- Nacho Carbonell (Spain)
- Reinaldo Senguino (Venezuela)
- Seckin Pirim (Turkey)
- Soojin Kang (Korea)
- ·Zemer Peled (Isrea)
And the art is not just “of” the island, but “for” the island. Many of the pieces are immersive or experiential. You don’t just look at them…you use them. And in so doing you become a part of them. And one of the most prevalent themes in this languid paradise is relaxing. So many pieces are seats, settees and loungers (like John Paul Philippe’s chair shown below with Lori sitting on it). Perhaps none more so immersive than the flying Manta loungers.
The art is displayed across the property, but also each villa is packed with special pieces. And if you want to take an exquisite piece home, many are for sale at the resort boutique.
Joali is state of the art. Quite literally, as the first “art resort” in the Maldives. I will have to delve into this inspired concept and the expansive collection that manifests it in a later post(s). But the resort is not just about the finer things in life, but fine art itself. Different artists from around the world were commissioned to create a collection of works inspired by the islands themselves. The notion reminded me of the legendary Ice Hotel who annually invites a platoon of ice sculptors to carve ice blocks into stunning pieces of art.
A major source of Joali inspiration is sitting down and enjoying paradise. Much of the art is meant to be “experiential art” that is engaged with, the most common engagement is just sitting and enjoying paradise. The name “Joali” is from “Joli” the name for Maldivian swing chairs with “a” inserted to represent their Turkish Parent (Alibey). “When people are sitting in their joli, they are enjoying life”. Hailing from the “Chairboys” town of High Wycombe ourselves, we were especially fond of this motif.
I’ve already posted on Joali’s exquisite Manta loungers. The arrival jetty is masterfully inspired by Mantas. Less mimicking their outline and more capturing the graceful, sinuous flow of their languid swimming. Appropriately enough, a group of dozens of mantas were spotted passing by the reef just a week ago.
But museum quality pieces aren’t the only state-of-the-art that Joali boasts. The villa environmental controls are something you would expect in Bill Gates’ house. Every electrical item from lights to curtains to home entertainment are all easily controlled from the handy bed-side iPad. Furthermore, all the lights are also controlled by a user-friendly pad of room settings like “Enter” (turn all lights on), and “Exit” (turn all light off) or “Ambient” (just turn on the low, indirect lighting). And the curtain controls don’t just open and shut them, but allow you to specific precisely how far you want them opened or closed.
The resort’s distinctions and touches of elegance made our visit a treasure trove as we discovered as many Best of the Maldives pieces as we had for virtually all the other resorts visited so far put together.
Joali is a new masterpiece in the azure gallery of beauty that is the Maldives.
You definitely will see mantas in the Maldives. Flying through the air, as has been recently portrayed by the BBC’s “Earth” programme is maybe as a rare as a Sea-Rex prowling the reef. Though at Joali you are not only guaranteed to see a flying manta, you can also take a seat in it.
In the Maldives, the more leisurely way to swing from the trees is lounging in one of their many swings swaying to the ocean breeze. I remember when I came across the first “birdsnest” swing a decade ago. Now they are common fare across the destination. Recently opened Joali literally does put the “bird” in “birdsnest swing” with its giant Heron head designed by Cape Town-based Porky Hefer. The plaque beside the piece reads, “Very often, birds are the first visitors or residents on the islands. This one migrated from Africa. Kara prefers the Maldivian weather and cuisine. Kara has decided to stay.”
When I first started the “Best of the Maldives” series on Maldives Complete nearly a decade ago (very nearly!), I wanted to find and call out some of the truly distinctive touches that resorts had. I didn’t want to (re)write the same glossy article about palm trees and pina coladas that every celebrity comp article writes. When I spoke with folks about this angle, I often used the “clothes hanger” example citing Gili Lankanfushi’s unique bamboo ones which provided a subtle touch of natural materials used in a stylish way. Now Joali has introduced its own creative hangers with “feel good” messages inscribed on each of them (thanks Paola). Who knew when I started focusing on such attentive details that not only would I end up writing about “clothes hangers”, but would write about multiple variations on just that item?
I wonder if one says “My bum does not look big in this.”