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For Creativity to Grow Over Time

Peep Ehasalu in the Hard Currency Bar (authors of the 70s-style interior design: Kard Männil and Toomas Volkmann).

Eksperimenta! hotel partner Estoria is telling stories of Estonia. There are more connections between Eksperimenta! and Estoria than the initial “E”. Annely Köster asked Estoria communication manager Peep Ehasalu to talk closer what, why and how.

At the beginning of the year, you invited people to tell stories about their field of specialty and about Estonia. And not just any stories but those that are exciting enough for people to want to retell them. The stories were collected into a big “book” in the form of Hotel ESTORIA, whose every room is like a colourful page of Estonia. Now please tell us the story of ESTORIA – one that our readers would want to spread like rumour.

Did you know that Hotel Estoria was born out of the realization that Estonia is a centre of the world? We cannot tell if Adam and Eve were originally from Estonia; however, Eve’s genetic code is preserved at the University of Tartu. The egg cell was discovered in Estonia, and our people finally made free long-distance calls possible. The world’s most-performed classical music composer is from here, and one of our athletes won an Olympic medal after the world’s longest wrestling match of 11 hours and 40 minutes. Our people create exquisite music and do sports with determination; the first space meals were produced here, and even the youngest meteorite in Europe had the good wits to land in Estonia.

If you don’t believe me, just visit the rooms of Hotel Estoria, and you will find proof for hundreds of other similar facts.

Most people expect the basic things from a hotel – a peaceful night’s rest and breakfast in a private, calm atmosphere. Of course, we do our best to provide such things to a better standard than the rest, otherwise there would be no point competing in the market, and we have already received many words of thanks with regard to these basic services.

But for many, especially business travellers, the hotel room is the only contact with the local life after a hard day of work. So why not offer some fascinating information as a bonus at the hotel? We invited 80 Estonian organizations to tell the story of Estonia, so that everybody would find the story that most interests them from the hotel room, reception or lounge. A better understanding of one’s local partners can also make their business flourish.

By offering these exciting insights and references about Estonia to our visitors, we are broadening the market, which is different from the logic of snatching a piece from the competitors. If the market widens, everybody wins, ourselves included.

Room No. 749 of ESTORIA tells the story of Eksperimenta!. What made you decide to support the contemporary art triennial of school students?

Let me answer with a question: what is the only chance of a small country to succeed? It cannot be force; rather, it is everything that’s inside the head, the source of creativity. Looking back into the history or to the present day, our great stories are typically connected to creative works; be it art (Amandus Adamson), music (Arvo Pärt, Ewert and the Two Dragons), film (Elbert Tuganov, Priit Pärn, Ilmar Raag, Veikko Õunpuu), the IT field (Skype, e-State) or any event that Estonia is internationally known for (Song and Dance Festival) – creative people are always involved.

Eksperimenta! is a unique triennial for art created by school students. For adolescents, self-exploration and self-confidence are crucial for the ability to achieve something great in later life. Estonia is so small that almost everybody partakes in the success of one individual. Although the triennial participants have been successful at getting admitted to art academies in Estonia and elsewhere in the world, it is not our goal to support figurative arts per se, but rather to support creativity in young people, their courage to present their own ideas. Looking more specifically at the tourism sector, it is clear that the more there are educated and creative young people travelling around the world, the greater the interest in Estonia as a travel destination. The more visitors, the better results.

Estoria's selfie spot

The over-arching theme of this year’s triennial is Art & Science. How do art and science meet at a modern hotel? Please illustrate this with an aphorism, drawing or photograph.

To answer this question, I would need to be able to define the line between science and art. Design furniture, for example, makes use of both disciplines, and a painter uses paints produced by a scientific process. On the other hand, an artist’s view of the world helps scientists to think outside the box. Sci-fi authors, for example, have written about things that were actually invented several decades later. Both are, no doubt, creative fields – it’s hard to imagine a non-creative scientist. To borrow from a greater mind: according to Albert Einstein, scientific thought always has an element of poetry. Real science and real music require a similar thought process.

I know that education-wise you have ties to the teaching profession. If you had the chance, what would you like to teach to school students today and why?

Based on experience from my current job, I would introduce communication studies already at the level of elementary school, although I would most likely have trouble teaching very young children myself. Art is also a form of communication, so in a sense they actually learn communication in all of their subjects, but how many of them are aware of this fact? “I’m drawing a picture to say that …” or “… to make people think about …”

Solo Sokos Hotel Estoria room

From the perspective of tourism, everything children learn about Estonia is highly valuable. If a person is taught to esteem and appreciate his country, he is also able to speak about it in an inspiring way.

However, looking at my children, I find myself increasingly wondering if it’s not me who’s learning more from them – the immediacy, creativity and absolute open-mindedness that most people somehow tend to lose by adulthood. It is worth supporting Eksperimenta! even just for the sake of having people whose creativity does not diminish but grow over time.

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