In the world of interiors, effective branding isn’t about graphics, colors, or architectural solutions alone. Although each is intrinsic to the process, they are complementary elements that contribute to the larger narrative of a client’s true identity.
It’s a practice that architecture and interior design firm Ted Moudis Associates (TMA) in New York is intimately familiar with and passionate about—so much so that it established an in-house branding group years ago to help “tell the real story” of its clients, according to Jacqueline Barr, IIDA, LEED AP, design principal at TMA. While clients can choose how immersive they want to get with the firm’s branding group (all projects get a “light touch” of branding), Barr said that the most compelling spaces are realized when an integrated approach to branding and design is taken.
“The projects you walk into that feel really great, they have the graphics, they’ve got technology, they’ve got, obviously, the look and feel—they’re the ones that you know have been a fully integrated process, from a brand [perspective] and an architectural perspective,” she explained.
Barr noted that clients are increasingly beginning to understand what she calls “the power of space,” and the effectiveness that branding brings to the process of design that goes well beyond just pasting an attractive logo on the wall. TMA recently took the branding journey with three such clients—NASCAR, Initiative Media, and real estate brokerage firm Compass—all of which tell a unique story through the integration of branding and design.
TMA recently designed a new Manhattan office space for NASCAR, the organization’s first New York City presence. The design team heavily branded the office through NASCAR photography and artwork, as well as through the architecture of the physical space.
“We did this visioning session,” Barr recalled, “and they were a very strong-minded client who said, ‘We don’t want to be perceived as gritty. We’re actually a very sophisticated organization. We’re slick. We’re fast. We’re all these things that embody the actual sport itself.’”
As such, the contemporary, minimalist space reflects a fast-paced organization in which every form, object, color, material, and light were selected to unify the identity of the NASCAR brand. For example, the ceiling above the reception area features dynamic, curvilinear forms representative of the racetrack itself. Walls are angular to connect the floor and ceiling dynamically, and the floor is concrete and has integrated metal inlays that mimic the identical layout of the ceiling pattern on the floor.
A custom-designed reception desk, lighting fixtures, a digital branding wall, and a meeting space built inside of a reflective cube are highlights. The facility, consisting of five executive offices, open workspaces, and support functions including boardrooms, feature a rich but minimal color palette that really lets these elements stand out.
The challenge with global advertising and marketing firm Initiative Media was designing a space that reflected the many brands the company represents, which resulted in a story about the client’s energetic corporate culture.