Artala Identity Design
The art of branding
Amy May is not your typical interior designer—her considerable expertise in both construction and design gives her a unique perspective, one that has garnered acclaim from customers and attention from well-known publications such as Architectural Digest and The Seattle Times.
After spending more than a decade building May Designs into a successful and highly respected business (one that is still going strong today), Amy wanted to launch a separate firm offering an elevated, bespoke experience to select clients. This new venture, Artala, required a distinct visual identity that aligns with the expectations of this audience, helps her stand out among more sophisticated competition, and differentiates the new firm from her existing business.
Amy’s relationship with Chalkbox goes back many years—we designed the brand system for May Designs. It’s always a pleasure to work with talented people, and we were thrilled that she asked us to help create an identity for Artala.
Discovering the differences
Despite our familiarity with Amy and her work, we still went through a discovery phase filled with questions and discussion. We needed to understand what was different about Artala, her goals for this new firm, the makeup of her audience. This collection of information, revised and perfected with Amy’s help, guided the work, helped us measure success, and kept everyone focused on the right things.
The project presented a number of challenges:
- Artala was new and unknown, preparing to enter a market with established competitors.
- High-level design services require an exceptionally refined brand identity—a piece of custom art that must show sophistication and style while still speaking to a theme or message.
- Nothing in the name “Artala” indicates a specific industry or service.
Surprising simplicity among competitors
With all of this in mind, we began our research—starting with local competition and expanding to some national firms. Many had simple wordmarks or monograms, while others seemed to have no branding at all, which we found surprising for this space. There was an opening for an artistic approach that blended creativity with a sense of effortless luxury.
We took into consideration several differentiators: Amy’s considerable expertise; the fact that Artala is not a “decorator,” but a firm that provides an all-encompassing design experience that includes custom architecture, space planning, and furnishings; and finally, the intangible benefits of Amy’s philosophy (also Artala’s tagline) of “The Art of Living.”
Finding the right balance
Through exhaustive sketching, we generated a wide array of concepts—the biggest challenge was to provide visual balance in a concept that felt artistic, architectural, and analytical all at once. Working closely with Amy throughout the process, we found a direction that incorporated these considerations and felt unique among her competitors, but that didn’t feel alien to her existing May Designs brand.
The finished mark combines custom typography, modern art, and architectural elements. The hint of a top-down door swing (as seen on blueprints) is vaguely structure-like, with clean geometric shapes adding balance and an artistic feel. The type subtly references the May Designs mark with similar line work, but expands upon it with a heavier typeface that includes geometric cuts and unique letterforms.
Premium, yet inviting
The icon feels luxurious, but not ostentatious. It is modular and adaptive, built from components that can be broken apart and used in different ways. Although the look is clean, it has character. Overall, it echoes Artala’s work and approach, conveying a sense of visual balance and refinement that sets audience expectations for a premium experience.
Providing design services to accomplished designers is both inspiring and a bit daunting—collaborating with Amy pushed us to think beyond typical boundaries, to stretch ourselves, to truly explore. We are always grateful to have those opportunities.
It's been a year since we completed this work, and Amy and Artala have been making some waves. See their Sept, 2022 feature in 425 magazine. Amazing work, Amy!
‘A powerful experience’
“I knew exactly what I wanted my new business to be—but figuring out how I wanted it to look was a far greater challenge,” Amy says. “Josh and his team are great at going deep to learn about their clients’ goals, motivations, and audience. They then somehow take this information and create a brand identity that works on multiple levels. I know, because Chalkbox has done it for me twice now, and each time has been a powerful experience.”