Identity / Hotel St. Clair Apartments
BY DANIELLE WILLIAMS /
CHIEF DESIGN OFFICER
Hotel St. Clair Apartments are more than a cookie cutter collection of rooms. It has a unique story, an identity, that is rooted in the King Lincoln District and history of Jazz as a whole.
When you live at the Hotel St. Clair Apartments, you are living with soul.
That was the messaging we created to guide our design direction of the Hotel St. Clair Apartments identity. As mentioned, HSC has a long history. "Built in 1911 as a state-of-the-art hospital and later converted into an upscale boutique hotel, this near east side landmark—just blocks from downtown Columbus, Ohio—has a rich history, beautiful architecture, and a touch of celebrity. -Hotel St. Clair Website"
Inspired by this building's history as a chic hotel during the Jazz era for famous entertainers, including Ella Fitzgerald, Lionel Hampton, Duke Ellington’s band, Count Basie, James Brown, Sammy Davis Jr., and Della Reese, our initial logo explorations tapped into that musical spirit.
Each of these logos strived to create a similar kind of movement, energy and swanky factor that is associated with classic 1940-50's Jazz.
After exploring our options, the team decided to move forward with Options 3, which we dubbed "the bass clef logo." The beauty of this option is that it uses subtle typographic cues to convey the feeling of music. By adding the characteristic double dots to the left of the "C" in St. Clair and elongating the tail, we were able to create a sophisticated nod to the language of Jazz.
By combining black and white photography of Hotel St. Clair's iconic musicians with pops of color and fonts with personality, we were able to create a brand language that spoke to the history of HSC and it's future as a boutique apartment experience.
But as is common in life and music, there was a twist.
In the final hour, the bass clef logo was reconsidered and abandoned. But all that hard work was not lost. We used the same inspiration to go in a slightly different direction.
By keeping the best aspects of the old logo: the idea of a custom typographic treatment, the bold announcement of St. Clair, and the subtle visual tie to music we landed on winner.
The identity pulls the three valve casings of a trumpet and creates a new kind of letterform that mixes solids with line. The result is a modern logo with a jazzy twist.
The Hotel St. Clair Apartments team were able to use the identity and brand direction we created to produce their website internally, and it extend it through illustration.
It was pretty amazing being able to work on a project that has such an interesting legacy. And of course, Blake and I love projects that contribute to making Columbus, Ohio even more of a unique place. Although we had some last minute changes with the logo, it just goes to show you that if your concepts are rooted in a strong idea and you do your research, you can evolve to make something great.