How to tell Brand Stories in Interior Design
One of the most obvious ways to bring a brand image into an interior scheme is to base it around the logo, but colours that work well on digital or printed logos don’t necessarily suit soft furnishings or large walls. Colours behave differently on various textures and surfaces and the proportion in which they are each used can affect the feeling they inspire. Simply using a few splashes of logo colours around the place is a perfectly acceptable thing to do for a cash strapped start-up of course, but it can never fully convey a brand story. Also, how on earth do you even arrive at meaningfully choosing colours or creating a look without a story in place first?
Last year I was asked to create a new image and interior for a restaurant business that wanted to completely change its name, appearance and even the style of cuisine on offer. One of the challenges was that they had yet to decide for sure what the new name and theme would even be. Ordinarily I would refer clients who are at this uncertain stage in their business journey to a branding specialist to help cement their ideas before coming back to me. However there wasn’t time or budget for that and their initial thoughts had legs so I agreed to help. Wanting to move away from burgers my clients turned to their Iranian heritage and shared interest its ancient history. They soon settled on serving Persian cuisine and after debating several contenders chose Mithra as the name. Instantly their passion for the business was reignited because it was personal and therefore meaningful.
I’m not a branding designer but I approached the challenge in just the same way as I used to when creating concepts for my theatre sets and costumes. Instead of starting with pictures, I start with words. Just a like a play text or a film script. In Persian mythology Mithra is the name of the ancient god associated with the sun, light and friendship. These three words began my design research. Wanting the finished interior to be contemporary rather than anachronistic, iconic or museum-like, I added ‘convivial, friendly and welcoming’ (like the business owners!) to the brief and began finding imagery to suit. That meant looking for photographs of sunsets and sunrays to extract a colour palette, and also graphic art and screen printed depictions of the sun to find crisp and contemporary styling.
Searching for ‘friendship’ images led me to friendship bracelets and the hand woven nature of these reminded me of the great tradition of Persian carpet weaving and its sumptuous dyes and yarns. Yellow and orange are thought of as welcoming colours, and have associations with the sun, friendship and optimism so had to be included. Fortunately they are also appetite stimulating making them a doubly suitable choice for a food business. During this research and development stage I happened upon the work of artist Maya Hayuk and found her graphic, geometric murals perfectly represented in paint some of the imagery I was trying to pull together for Mithra’s new look.
The end result comprises some repurposed furniture form the old venture and some new, themed artwork and authentic textiles, with some customisation to the scheme by the owners - it is their business after all. So as you can see there are always reasons why a design scheme looks and feels the way it does and it is often quite a journey to get from the first spark of an idea to the end result.
I would be fascinated to know how other designers might have interpreted the same brief as everyone has different processes and imaginations. What might you have done?! If you run a business how will you choose to tell your brand story in your interiors? Starting with words, or another way?