Upon the launch of Unscripted’s debut property in Durham, we asked our Senior Vice President of Creative, CORY INGRAM, to speak a bit about his approach to design, branding and how a great hotel is all about that perfect mix of comfort and adventure.
UD: Tell us a bit about the Unscripted concept. What’s driving the brand right now? CI: Unscripted started with the idea of blending the unexpected with the familiar, and we have used that idea to help guide our vision. We knew from the start that we were looking to resonate not only with creatives, but with people who, in a more general sense, just appreciate creativity and like to surround themselves with cool things. Travel should always expand our horizons and introduce us to new ideas. So, as people who naturally love food, culture, craft, and design, it made total sense that those things would drive the brand. Additionally, it’s important for us to be experiential and offer guests things that go above and beyond a normal hotel stay. That’s where all of our amenities, partnerships and programming come in.
What role do partnerships and collaborations play in building and expanding the Unscripted brand? It’s very important to us to be collaborative, rather than competitive. Not only is it more fun, it also drives home what we are about: bringing people together and celebrating creativity. Working with like-minded artisans and creatives on various collaborations not only expands our reach, it also gives guests the opportunity to see and experience something they might not otherwise have access to, whether it’s a workshop with a tastemaker, or a class on how to sew your own denim jacket from recycled fabrics. It’s nice to know that as we grow, our guests will grow with us and, over time, they will really look to us to provide them with awesome experiences that they can then share. It’s a beneficial circle.
What role does social media play in your brand communications? Thanks to social media, everyone can be the creative director of their own lives nowadays. I think our role is to create and curate the environment where creative, design minded people feel inspired and stimulated. When we create something that is really dynamic and visual, whether it’s a launch party, a pop up art exhibit or a new dish at our in-house market/coffeeshop Allday, it’s only natural that people will want to share it. When you are offering something cool and interesting, guests become amazing brand advocates and their networks become our networks and vice versa. Investing in social has really paid off for us in this sense and it’s only going to grow in the future.
Talk to us about storytelling as it relates to the Unscripted brand. Storytelling, as we see it, really exists to weave together all the various elements that power the brand. Before we enter any new market, we do an incredible amount of research. We will dig deep and uncover interesting facts about a property’s location, like how the building was used in the past. We’ll also learn about the culture and vibe of the city so we can find the right mix of food, programming, decor, etc. that will resonate and really serve the needs of the community. From there, it’s all about creating a compelling narrative and wrapping it up with amazing service and great design so the public can experience it in full.
How does Unscripted approach design? What goes into creating spaces that inspire guests? I think that rather than checking off the “design” box from our list, we view design as a thread that runs through every aspect of the property. With our Durham location, we wanted to make a lot of references to the 1960’s because of the location’s rich history & on property you will notice that things have a very sleek, modernist feel to them. Conversely, we definitely believe in adding unexpected elements that can bring the design language forward. This can mean custom made murals in guest suites, pops of retro-flavored colors in the rooms and things like that. We work hard to make it all look very easy and I think guests really appreciate the historical references.