The always dashing Mr. Bruno Billio
Dodging my way around a moving opera, winding my way up an old wooden staircase, and cutting through a bright pink rococo bedroom in the middle of the hallway — how better to set the tone for my interview with the Gladstone Hotel’s resident artist, Bruno Billio?
Nick Green: Tell us about your position as resident artist at the Gladstone Hotel.
Bruno Billio: The stability here is great, which has allowed my practice to have a home-base laboratory. To have this environment to think in, to create in — and that’s just in my personal space! I also have what’s happening in the hallway, downstairs, on the street. All that gets digested in my studio.
You really get to live your work.
It’s gotta be a good line . . . “Oh, come check out my studio — whoa, where did that bed come from?”
Ha ha. Well there’s Come Up to My Room, which is the show in February. This coming year is going to be our 10th year.
Right, the annual alternative design fair! Tell me about it.
It’s where art meets design. It could be furniture, lighting; it could be concept. All the rooms on this floor and this corridor are filled with artists and designers. The artists create these great ideas and projects in these rooms for four days. That’s basically what brought me here in 2003. I showed in this room and basically never left.
You are such a rebel. Are there funny things about living in the Gladstone?
Absolutely. I mean, coming here you had to walk through a set! Stuff like that. I come home and they’re installing pink carpeting. I look out my peephole and there could be a geisha girl, there could be someone doing a cartwheel, a bunch of children singing — it’s just crazy what’s outside my door. There’s always something funny.
Tell me about your ideology when it comes to a living space.
Beautiful function. Harmonized function. There’s a lot of harmony in here. I use a lot of twos and threes in here. To me, this place is practical. It may seem fussy, but it’s very practical to me.
I don’t think it’s fussy. This balance or harmony you live in, do you feel like it affects your day-to-day life?
It definitely keeps me sane.
You would cry if you saw my apartment. It’s not very inspired.
This space is 360 square feet. It’s what’s in the space. What’s giving the room depth, what’s giving it colour, what’s giving it texture? It’s all up to you. It’s kind of like looking at someone who’s not dressed very well: you’re thinking, “All you have to do is change this, this and this, and you’d be surprised what’s going on.”
Tell me about Bruno’s Artist Dinner.
I host a dinner here at the Gladstone. It’s a menu I create and the chef here makes. I have them for one person or up to eight people, and we dine here in my house. I host the dinner and we may have a guest artist or personality join us. It’s such a unique environment: the hotel, the building itself, what it represents, and having an artist living there.
Pretty sweet deal for you! You get a nice meal, you don’t have to leave your house . . .
Yeah, I get a nice meal, get to talk about my work, have a guest artist and talk about his work. It’s a unique conversation and a true meal at an artist’s table.
Well, if it’s anywhere near as enjoyable as our little chat, you can sign me up.
Nick Green is a harmonized function consultant. Follow him on Twitter @and_fabulous.
Contact the Gladstone Hotel for more information about Bruno’s Artist Dinner and see more of his work at brunobillio.com.
Photographs by alejandro santiago