The Cultivist was founded by Daisy Peat and Marlies Verhoeven, who are based in London and New York. The pair met at Sotheby’s, where Verhoeven was vice president and global director of loyalty marketing, and Peat was European head of VIP client loyalty.
The scheme was launched in July and membership costs $2,500 per year in the US, £1,900 in the UK and €2,700 for the rest of the world. Membership is by invitation only – applicants are asked to fill out a form online, after which they will be contacted by phone to discuss why they are looking to join.
Successful applicants are sent a membership card offering ‘VIP access’ to 150 galleries, museums and art institutions around the world. They will also receive invites to exclusive events, from private exhibition tours to studio visits, and ‘insider insights’, offering tips on art trends, emerging talent and upcoming shows. The Cultivist says it provides a personalised service for all members, while offering access to major art events without having to pre-book tickets.
The membership pack was created by Construct and features a suitably luxurious design. Housed in a minimal black box with a silver foil logo and its recipient’s initials, the pack features a welcome brochure, introduction letter and a membership card. The letter is printed on a super thin aluminium sheet to create “a fluid metallic effect”, while the membership booklet is finished in soft touch laminate.
Construct says the pack places emphasis on “tactility and textural contrast, illustrating the concept of engaging the senses and challenging expectations.” Membership cards are individually designed and each pack comes with a framed portrait of the cardholder, created by sculptor and painter Miranda Donovan. The welcome brochure uses different paper sizes to reflect “the concept of discovery … [by] revealing and concealing content.”
Daniel Lock, design director at Construct, says the aim was to offer “visual juxtaposition and a tactile experience,” while reflecting The Cultivist’s existing branding. The use of different materials and techniques from foil blocking to embossing suggest a sense of luxury and craftsmanship, while the personalised portrait and monogram case add to the service’s personal touch.
It’s an interesting concept: while art membership schemes are nothing new – most major galleries and museum groups offer some kind of loyalty scheme, while in the UK, the National Art Pass offers discounted entry to venues across the UK – The Cultivist presents a more exclusive, by invite-only alternative.
With its curated insights, members-only events and guaranteed access to blockbuster shows, it presents a luxury take on traditional membership schemes, and a service for those who consider time as big a luxury as physical objects. As we noted in our May issue, our perceptions of luxury are changing, and the idea of personalised, curated services and ‘experiences’ are now just as desirable as expensive items from art to antiques.