Responses by Ben Miles, executive creative director, Interbrand
Background: The Prince Hotel Group is the expert in hospitality. So, when it partnered with Staywell to bring its luxury hotels to the rest of the world, the company needed a concept for its new brand. The Prince Akatoki is aimed at high-end travelers looking to escape the chaotic pace of modern life. Incorporating a minimal aesthetic, the promotion of mindfulness, a spotlight on craftsmanship and a meticulous attention to detail, we were inspired by Japan and the Japanese way of life. Also, since The Prince Akatoki was created with fusion in mind, it doesn’t feel out of place in London, Paris or New York.
Reasoning: The name Akatoki comes from an ancient Japanese word for dawn. It captures the optimism and positivity for the day ahead. As the sun comes up each morning, guests at The Prince Akatoki will wake up relaxed, rejuvenated and ready for the possibilities the day brings. We call this feeling Poetry at Dawn, the idea that drives every detail in the brand experience.
Challenges: Working with an international client and understanding the nuances of Japanese business, including the subtleties of language, culture and etiquette. We realized we needed to adapt our working style to make sure that the project would get the best result. Key to this was spending time in Japan, learning from the team and watching their unique approaches to service—something that was key to capture in The Prince Akatoki experience.
Favorite details: The Prince Akatoki design system is a modern interpretation of traditional Japanese fusuma panels, sliding doors that can open or close to redefine the purpose of a room. The fusuma panel artwork was inspired by traditional ink wash painting techniques, and we collaborated with illustrator Matt Murphy to create tranquil scenes of Japan at dawn through the seasons. To accompany them, haiku masters David McMurray and Jiro Oba composed poems in English and Japanese to have the same form, meaning and nuance in both languages.
Visual influences: We travelled to Japan to get an authentic, unfiltered look at what makes the country so special. But it was the people who left a lasting impression. We are so grateful to those who showed us the hidden gems of their city, let us in behind the scenes and even invited us into their homes. We learned so much about the passion, process and deeper meaning behind many of the traditional Japanese arts.
Anything new: We learned about the layers of intricacies associated with Japanese way of life, the unique feeling you get from the impeccable service and, of course, their beautiful sunrises. So, we brought this idea to life through The Prince Akatoki experience.