Responses by Tess Wicksteed, partner, Mark Paton, creative partner, Here Design and Brett Perkins, chief marketing officer, ArtFarm
Background: International gallerists Hauser & Wirth brings originality to all it does, and its first full-scale venture into hospitality was no exception. In the village of Braemar in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, cofounders Iwan and Manuela Wirth formulated the 46-room The Fife Arms, a reimagined Victorian coaching inn near Balmoral Castle that brings together Scottish heritage, craftsmanship and culture with world-class contemporary art and a strong sense of community.
Reasoning: For The Fife Arms, it was our explicit purpose to create a deep connection to the dynamics of the site. We first explored the land and its rich human history, and met with Roger Sudworth of the Braemar Local History Group. We spent an afternoon discovering everything from catalogues for the Braemar Gathering to ephemera for previous iterations of the Braemar arms that built the context for the project.
Challenges: Pulling it all together in the last few days, particularly within the ecosystem of a hospitality project. However well-planned you might be, there are always last-minute adjustments that need to be made. Luckily, we enjoy that part of the job and, over time, you get better at being able to use the restriction of time as a useful creative tool!
Favorite details: At a time when many brands are stripping back their identities and adopting a more neutral and international style, we were inspired by Iwan and Manuela’s desire to reference a specific regional and local visual history that was much more variable and idiosyncratic that we are used to today. The Fife Arms has a rich, colorful history and our intention was for guests to discover these stories in unexpected and entertaining ways as they moved through the hotel. From the presentation of the room keys to the design of the menus and the signage, Here Design put great thought into features that typically go unconsidered in many hotels.
Visual influences: Our designs drew on many local points of reference, including The Fife Arms’s original signage. We created a fluid hotel logo that takes on typographic forms with a playfulness that embodies the eclecticism of the hotel’s interior design and artistic collaborations. Every part of the guest experience adopts a new element of this highly spirited identity, rooted in the original bits and pieces we found in the archives.
Anything new: It was amazing to learn the language and history of place. We pushed ourselves in the pursuit of beauty and functionality in design. As people who stay at hotels, we all know hotel design requires a delicate hand—who wants a beautifully designed piece of storytelling when all you need is to know where the loo is? We think we got the balance right, but we encourage you all to stay there and judge for yourselves.