Austrian studio, Icarus Creative, creates the identity for an urban lifestyle hotel with cult potential, a distinct personality, and the spirit of international cities.
INTERVIEW BY CRISTIE STEVENS
First of all, tell us about the studio.
We are a creative studio based in Innsbruck, Austria. We’ve existed since 2011 and are trying to expand in the future. We love to create corporate designs from scratch but also like the challenge of pimping existing brands. Our name is our inspiration and we always try our best to design something outstanding with the help of our challenging clients. Sometimes you get burned but most of the time you pass the heat. We specialize in corporate design, branding, and editorial design. We love colors in order to create extra impact, but we also can stay classy if it’s needed. Our main goal is to work with more clients from all over the world without forgetting our roots.
Can you tell us about the initial project conversations?
We met one of the junior bosses at a party and he told us that they are going to open a new hotel in the middle of the city of Innsbruck. We had known him already for some time but never done business together. After he had told us about the hotel we tried to throw our head in the ring and stayed a bit pushy to ensure we’d get involved. After presenting our portfolio, and some initial talks with the owners, we were invited to a small pitch to come up with a name for the hotel. They already had a name suggestion from another creative agency but weren’t that happy with it. So we knew that we had to cross this boundary to achieve our part in the job. The mission was to create an urban lifestyle hotel which should be totally different from all traditional folklore hotels in Tyrol. Furthermore, the client wanted to create a hotel with cult potential, special personality and the spirit of international cities. Easy.
The mission was to create an urban lifestyle hotel which should be totally different from all traditional hotels in Tyrol. The client wanted to create a hotel with cult potential, special personality and the spirit of international cities.
What did the design process look like?
First of all, we created the name. We gave them three drafts because we wanted to give them the feeling that we are totally in for the project. This is sometimes necessary for a client to get a good feeling. After the decision, we created the logo. In that case, we presented two nice routes. We believe that it doesn’t make sense to show the client too many different options because we experienced that in the end, they want a mixture of all of them. Unfortunately, most of the time they don’t understand that the execution of every route is totally different. To get a better impact we always showed some raw logo applications. That helped the client to get a better feeling of how the future brand will look. After that, we didn’t really get a response… which was a totally new experience, not a good, one but as it turned out an interesting one. After around four months they gave us a call and said that they were super happy but had too much to do with the project planning. From this point onwards, we could go on with the design executions which meant that we had another look on the logo and made some optimizations. After further research on fitting typography, we started to create the illustrative style. In the end, we didn’t have that much time for creating all the different deliverables, but when you are on a run and stay focused its crazy what you can achieve in such a short time.
Can you talk us through the thinking behind the final design?
The name was a big challenge but to be honest, in the end, we came up with it very quickly. We had even already told them the name STAGE during a meeting but hadn’t realized that this was going to be the final one. The name comes from the building which used to be a famous theatre. We then immediately realized that STAGE was such a good name because the scenery of a hotel feels a bit like a good theatre play. Furthermore, if you are standing in one of the rooms of the hotel and open the curtains you see the big shopping street which is somehow like a play itself and you can just sit there and watch people walk by.
Our strategy was to make it totally different from all the other hotels in Innsbruck or Tyrol. We didn’t want to show people the typical hotel picture. We wanted them to discover the hotel and make them a bit curious how is it going to look like. So, we decided to create this with a classic illustration outline style plus a nice color pallet which now can be found in the hotel rooms too.
We chose a modern grotesque sans-serif font with geometrical characters. Furthermore, we wanted to give the project additional layers to make it even more special. The wording was challenging too. The written messages speak an internationally understandable language, delivered with a subtle nod and wink. For example: “Make my room great again”. The color palette was based on the interior scheme to create a perfect harmony. Our main goal was that every detail had to fit together. And of course, we did much more creative stuff but we think if you have already read all of this you probably had enough and don’t want to know more details.
Did you face any challenges during the project?
The biggest challenge of this project was the time (classic!). There was a final deadline, which could under no circumstance be missed because if the hotel opens it is open. No chance for changes. Everything had to be perfect right away. In this case, it was a bit tricky because we were in correspondence with many people. The owners, the city, the architects, different producers, and so on.
What was your favorite part of the process?
The best part was the creation of the door numbers and guidepost icons in the hotel. We worked closely with the architects because we wanted to satisfy them as well and make the coolest solution for the hotel. This is something haptic and will not change for many years. All the numbers and icons are made from golden brass which is quite expensive, but super high quality. The moment you walk through an empty hotel and your design is the one every door and every wall is something really special.
In what ways did the initial concepts differ from the final execution?
We had the biggest changes in the illustrations. In the beginning, they were really raw and just single artworks. The way of combining them and adding more details was a great experience. In addition, adding another color to our pallet made a big difference. At a certain point in the process, you realize you need to add more depth otherwise everything starts to look boring. You need the possibility of variation.
Do you have any advice for others hoping to up-level their portfolio presentation?
Make original photos. Only show what you really did. Take your time and put exactly the same effort in creating the imagery.
One final question, whose work is inspiring you right now?
This list would just be too long. There are so many great agencies and artists in the world and that’s a good thing!
Behind the Brief is an interview series celebrating the creative process where we speak to the team behind the project, pulling back the curtain on their design thinking, strategy and process to learn how they arrived at the final design.