Located in Denver just a few steps aways from Union Station stands the Kimpton Hotel Born. This hotel was part of a much larger project to transform Denver’s Union Station into a vibrant downtown neighborhood. It was our role at Ellen Bruss Design to create a brand that reflects a sense of place – both of Denver and its location within the Rocky Mountains.
EBD established the name and initial brand identity of Hotel Born, then carried on maintaining the brand through the entirety of this development with collateral, merchandise, environmental signage, art curation, as well as the interior creative direction. Since Hotel Born’s official opening in August of 2017, it has continued to establish itself as a destination in the city.
A Transforming Neighborhood
Continuum Partners, who was the Master Developer of Union Station worked with Semple Brown Architects and EBD to build a unique identity for the hotel and three restaurants within one of the most exciting urban redevelopment projects in the nation, the $500 million transformation of Denver’s Union Station neighborhood.
Branding Hotel Born
When building the Hotel Born brand, EBD focused on the location. The hotel is in Downtown Denver, but has views of its larger context, the Rocky Mountains. Naturally, urban meets mountain became the theme. It was also important to EBD that the interiors felt like more of a home than a typical hotel. The team pulled references from Colorado’s & Europe’s alpine environment, mountain and urban homes, alongside contemporary urban design to get inspired.
When naming the hotel, many things were considered, but not a lot of those were passing trademark searches, so Ellen suggested Born, her mother’s maiden name. It stuck because of its distinctive European quality. It also had perfect symmetry in our custom font, which is a quality that is a favorite of designers. The EBD team then created a seal logo that could be used in other applications, and 6 different shields to reflect the hotel, Union Station, and Denver.
The collateral was an opportunity to express city meets mountains. An uncoated felt finish gray/brown paper was selected and a gold foiled logo was implemented on the front of the folder and notecards. Door hangers were letter pressed, and the brand trademark plaid was used within the in-room materials.
The environmental signage supported the brand look, bringing in soft gold powder coated steel, extra deep dimensional lettering, back-lit signage for the elevated sign, and a traditional hotel-style entry plaque.
The interiors referenced the alpine environment while making sure you knew you were in an urban location. Oriental rugs from around the world were selected to make the public spaces feel home-like, and leathers and plaids referenced the mountains nearby. Select furniture pieces were custom designed based on the brand, resulting in a well-traveled look.
Outside of the rooms we’re especially fond of the library, where we bound old magazines from Architectural Digest to Interview Magazine into hardcover books. Every part of the space was carefully considered to make the hotel feel unique and a bit more like home.
Supporting the Arts
When looking into the interior design of Hotel Born, it became important to create a space that supports the community’s growing interest in the arts. Ellen Bruss and Adam Lerner, the former Director of the Museum of Contemporary Arts Denver, worked together to coordinate and curate over 700 pieces of work from 32 local artists. The collection of work contains paintings, photography, digital compositions, watercolor and mixed media.
“My heart is in the local art community, so supporting them in this project was important to me. We chose to do this by curating groupings of their work to really showcase each talent.”
– Ellen Bruss
Along with Hotel Born, EBD branded three unique restaurants: Tavernetta, Sunday Vinyl Wine Bar, and Citizen Rail Restaurant. Connected to Hotel Born you can enjoy aged beef at Citizen Rail, which was named for it’s role in being a neighborhood spot alongside it’s transit (rail) location. Step outside by the station to find Tavernetta for elevated Italian cuisine in a modern meets traditional Northern Italian environment. Next door to that, Sunday Vinyl brings a Wine Bar/Vinyl experience.