Designing the Brand of a urban and unique boutique hotel


AreaHospitality & Tourism

DisciplinesBrand Identity
Graphic Design
Web Design

Sometimes the phone rings and you are offered the opportunity to create a wonderful hotel Branding Project. This is what happened in the first days of July 2018. The property of El Môderne Urban & Unique contacted us to baptize its first hotel project with a suitable Naming and to develop the complete Brand Identity of this new 4 star venue in the centre of Gijón, which finally opened its doors in December 2018 after a year of renovation and restoration works.

The project was a sweet, one of those you always want to get. A candy that allowed us to experience closely the process of rehabilitation of a protected building and to dive into the recent history of this city on the Asturian coast.

The building is one of the jewels of Art Deco in the city, and one of the best examples of the Zig Zag Moderne variant. It was built in 1931 by the architects Manuel and Juan del Busto in years of economic prosperity and social development, and inspired by the architecture that was being done in cities like New York or Chicago.

Gijón in the 1930s was an eclectic, cosmopolitan and lively city. The industrial development of the area thanks to the iron and steel industry was the breeding ground for a business and financial bourgeoisie that led Asturian society, and which played a major role in the most influential class of Spanish society. This new bourgeoisie of Gijón, wealthy and bon vivant, joined the push of the mayor Gil Fernández Barcia and his commitment to modernize the city and its infrastructure. Thus, the old fishing port gave way to a modern, independent, bourgeois, sophisticated and happy urban setting: little New York, little London… the Great Gijon.

The architectural project has been carried out by Ballina & Canal Architecs, who have managed to respect the personality and characteristics of the building, giving it a modern and functional interior resolution. The interior design carried out by Miguel Pando‘s Studio, reinterprets the style of the time bringing it to the modernity, providing the hotel with an intimate, exquisite, subtle and elegant atmosphere.

The aim of the project was to recover the memory of that stately and cheerful Gijón and bring it to our days by building a cosmopolitan, urban, lively, active, but also elegant and unique Brand. This concept of mixture, of apparent contradiction, was for us the guiding thread of the project: a historical building with an urban and cosmopolitan atmosphere; a bar that is a cafeteria and also a champagne bar; a Gijón that is pure sea but that has the mountain at a leap; a fishing port and an open and lively city… A corner of a city in the north of Spain that transports us to the New York of jazz and Gotham…


We were looking for a name that was close, informal, traditional and spontaneous, that would remind us of other names of that time (La Industrial, La Internacional…) and that would quickly put us in context. “El Môderne” is the Spanish word for the architectural style of the building. It is short, understandable by people who do not speak Spanish ( an important aspect in the hotel industry), and easy to remember. The mixture appears again: Spanish, the false circumflex accent of the French… Evocative, old-fashioned but modern at the same time, and enhances the territory and the meaning of the brand, which reinterprets for modernity that Gijón of the 30’s.

“Urban & Unique” is the tagline that completes the name of the hotel and summarizes the brand proposal. Urban but Unique for its personality and experience.


For the visual part, we were looking for something typographic, sober and timeless, to accompany the powerful impression of the building. The black and white lead us to connect with the interior of the hotel, corridors with theatrical lighting… the sobriety and subtlety of the furniture. And again the mixture. A typographical mix of serif and sans serif in a fabulous and current harmony, a very editorial composition. It also mixes paper types and sizes within the same application, and mixes languages in the verbal definition of service concepts for the hotel.

The touch of elegance and good workmanship is provided by the textured papers, the manipulations and finishes carried out in a totally handcrafted manner by Imprenta Nueva Balear.


The signage is an evocative nod to the lettering of the era. Made of brass, it combines the above-mentioned typographic play with the direction lines converted into guide arrows. The signage is the protagonist of black or wood-covered walls, becoming an indispensable element in the construction of the visual imaginary of El Môderne.


Web design is one of the fundamental applications in any Brand development today, and more so for a hotel business. The website of El Môderne Urban & Unique intends to be the entrance door to the hotel for users wherever they are, the beginning of a lodging experience already from their homes.

The combination of the modular design, the responsive resolution, the copies, where the description of the experience or the art direction prevails over the photos taken by Salva López, manage to recreate faithfully the atmosphere of the hotel. The personalisation of the booking process also manages not to break the visual or brand context throughout, managing to generate a stable and identifiable environment.

The web project of El Môderne Urban & Unique has earned us an Honourable Mention in the prestigious awwwards directory.

The El Môderne Urban & Unique Project is an example of integral Branding for a boutique hotel or independent hotel that we have especially enjoyed, a hotel with a soul and a vital project for its founders of which we feel especially proud. A very different type of project from the rebranding of a hotel chain like Hipotels, which has allowed us to approach the hotel business from another perspective and with other goals.

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