Claus Sendlinger is the founder and CEO of Design Hotels AG, which represents and markets a curated selection of 300 independent hotels in over 60 countries across the globe with headquarters in Berlin and branches in London, Barcelona, New York, and Singapore. He began his career in the travel industry in 1987 with the founding of an agency specializing in sport and music events. Four years later, Travel Trends, a tour organizer for high-end, authentic travel experiences followed. In 1993 in Sausalito, California, Sendlinger established Design Hotels Inc., a small hotel cooperation with 10 members focused on communications strategies that went beyond traditional tourism marketing. With the growth of its worldwide creative network, lebensart global networks AG was born in 1998 and went public in 1999. In 2003, the company was renamed Design Hotels AG and in 2004 the headquarters were moved from Augsburg to Berlin. Sendlinger leads the company with an Executive Board. In November 2012, Sendlinger was honored at the European Hotel Design Awards for outstanding contributions to the industry. In January 2013, Design Hotels AG received the Special Award from one of the top German hospitality publications, AHGZ (Allgemeine Hotel und Gastronomie Zeitung).
If there was one piece of art you could feature in, which would it be and why?
I would think less of one specific piece, but more of a deeply important assemblage of contemporary art. Documenta 14 is a humbling body of creative expression. The exhibition occurs every five years–this year taking place in Kassel, Germany, and Athens, Greece, with director Adam Szymczyk’s curation of 100 days of site-specific art from all over the world.
How will museums impact future cities?
The rise of private museums is already having a huge impact on the cultural footprint of cities. Free of the restrictions of state-owned institutionalization, the new breed of museums popping up around the world is able to take risks with young, local artists and encourage a culture of idiosyncrasy and diversity.
What are your favourite emerging cultural cities and / or organisations in the world and why?
Neighborhoods are the new cities, and it’s the creative communes evolving within established and emerging neighbourhoods that is of real interest. Most recently, the passion that has been put into the new Holzmarkt in Berlin has made a real impression on me. The urban village on the edge of the Spree is home to a music venue, theatre, bakery, kindergarten, and studio for circus acrobats to name a few. This way of drawing people in and merging art and life is profoundly inspiring.
Who do you think are the cultural innovators of tomorrow and why?
The great cultural innovators of today and tomorrow are the ones creating communities for this age of experience. From Burning Man to Summit at the Sea—festivals and mobile societies built on concepts of art and community not only connect but also propel progress on all levels. You can look to collectives like Habitas, which started as a festival but is now building a permanent base in Tulum. They envision places from a community point of view and a hub for transformational travel, rather than as a conventional hotel, drawing in like-minded people through food, music, and wellness programming.
What are you up to at the moment and where can we find it? (Please include a link(s) if possible).
As this idea of creating nomadic communities is a core pillar of Design Hotels, we have created a tangible space for this to happen. La Granja Ibiza is our own expression of this need to connect more deeply with oneself, each other, and the land. We’ve turned a centuries old farmhouse into a cultural hub where we are playing with different hospitably concepts—from sound meditation, workshops with the locals, to spiritual and ritualistic programming. With so much of our days spent online, it’s even more vital to connect and bond over shared experiences.