For both properties and artists. With Tekuma CEO, Marwan Aboudib
Boston-based, Tekuma, transforms real estate properties into art galleries — ultimately, giving artists incredible exposure while allowing properties to be personalized, authentic and unique.
CEO, and Tekuma Founder, Marwan Aboudib explains:
We are all from an architecture and real estate backgrounds. In design school, you generate a lot of good creative content that remains unseen from the public. Something there felt wrong, and we wanted to change that. The Tekuma idea sparked around a game of basketball after a particularly grueling studio semester that ended with an empty audience for the final presentation. We started out by having pop-ups all over MIT’s campus with our own work on display. We would just hang a piece, without permission, and place a QR code to get info on it. We got into trouble, but also sold some artworks, and we realized we were onto something. We took the idea forward, got into an accelerator, and founded Tekuma two years ago. It did not ramp up into a company until we graduated about a year ago. We initially started out by exhibiting our own architectural projects and the narratives were very theoretical. A lot of our galleries were thesis projects from local design graduate programs. That has certainly had an impact on how we craft the stories, but we understand that creativity is also an emotional process.
Finding our audience:
Bringing artworks into Airbnbs is actually how we bootstrapped the company initially. By managing several apartments on Airbnb, we discovered that art was the simplest and most meaningful way to create a sense of place. The idea sparked the interest of our first few clients. From there we started working with corporate housing providers, and now property managers. We see our audience as the users of those spaces. Ultimately, it has been the positive feedback of residents and visitors that has made managers wanting to host our artworks in their space.
The Tekuma Process:
We first work with the space, and identify what profile of artist would work with our client. It is more about the atmosphere and the message conveyed by the pieces, than about finding artworks that matches the wallpaper. Most of our projects are in residential and office settings and we make sure the aesthetics of the finishes are cohesive with the artworks, but our key focus is the artist story. Once that is defined, our curators search through our art database and select a few artists which are shared with our clients. With temporary installations, our clients tend to give us complete freedom in terms of selecting the pieces.
We are not a conventional gallery owner and we set-up exhibitions in offices, apartments common areas, etc. The idea is to bring art closer to every day spaces. We converted an Airbnb at Miami Art Basel last year and held a few events which were quite fun. Our mission is to bring to light untapped talent, and therefore, many of our artists combine their professional work with their art. We have been working closely for instance with Decue Wu, a graphic designer at a startup and a prolific illustrator. You might have seen her drawings in Vogue, or on Airbnb’s site. Our team particularly loves Shobhit Sharma’s work. He is a PhD at Duke University in Physics, and produces the most amazing digital imagery. Some of our artists like Fafa Khan, who is an abstract painter and a hip-hop DJ, have really inspired us from their shear passion and creativity.
At the moment, we primarily work with emerging artists, and we provide art prints and commissions. Our vision though, is to build one large database of art, where all artists can be discovered. With one click, you can submit your work to be published globally. By having all the artworks under a cloud infrastructure, everyone could learn about an artwork with a tap of the phone. We have a lot to do, and are excited to be working towards that future.
The Tekuma Impact:
We have obviously brought in some revenue for our artists, but the true impact is probably our social one. Many of our artists did not have much opportunities to physically display their work. We share pictures of their galleries and invite them onsite when possible. We noticed that there is a initial sense of joy experienced by our audience when their walls go from blank to hosting beautiful pieces. The true satisfaction though comes from understand the art piece through our artist story. When you understand the process, what to look for in a piece, who and why it was created, you can really connect to it past it aesthetic beauty. Education is the biggest impact we have.
Where you can find us:
People can check us out at tekuma.io. If an artist wants to collaborate with us, they should check out artist.tekuma.io and send us an email. Our artist portal is still in prototyping phase, but we have over 700 users on it.
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~Feature in collaboration with/produced by: Jeff Gorra