Almayer Art & Heritage Hotel, Zadar

Ante Filipović Grčić

The visual identity of Almayer

Story of how the sea - an eternal inspiration, connected an Italian writer, a Šibenik artist and a Zadar hotel

Ante Filipović Grčić, a Designer from Šibenik, did not have an easy task when, one morning in 2015, we knocked at the door of his 2FG Studio - at the time located in the Gorica district of Šibenik Oldtown at the very end of Masna ulica (Greasy Street), named after the numerous inns and pubs that lined the very street.

Ante Filipović Grčić and UlrikeAnte Filipović Grčić with pet cat Ulrike (photo: Žana Karabatić/Facebook)

Ante Filipović Grčić (photo: Duško Jarmaz/PIXSELL)  

The visual impact of Filipović Grčić studio space reflects his enthusiasm for life, passion for creative exchange mixed with nostalgic eclecticism and its authentic picturesque design. A place where one can immediately feel the collaborating atmosphere of an articulate design studio and that almost-lost democratic and egalitarian spirit of the once-lively narrow Dalmatian cobble-stone streets and squares.

2FG Studio2FG Studio (photo: Valerio Baranović/Facebook)

One can meet there, at any given time, local artists and journalists, prominent guests from the international world of culture, philosophy and history, as well as numerous mundane visitors from -  postmen and neighbours, to peculiar passers-by. Therefore, it was only logical to ask for help in designing the visual part of the Almayer Hotel Zadar project this lively creative epicentre of the two famous Šibenik city festivals - OFF Jazz & Blues Festival and FALIŠ - The Šibenik Festival of Alternative and Left.

2FG Studio - Graphic design and book layoutGraphic design and book layout (photo: Ante Filipović Grčić/Facebook)

Ante Filipović Grčić - PostersPosters (photo: Ante Filipović Grčić/Facebook)

Baricco’s sea

Our intention was no more and no less, but to “prose the sea” following the trail of Alessandro Barrico’s cult novel the “Ocean Sea” to reflect its eponymous Almayer inn. Located by the sea, it brings together distinctive guests and hotel staff who are all connected by the sea - the sea that changes them all and intertwines their life paths. The visual identity was to satisfy several different categories. With a pronounced sophistication and identity placement alongside art, he was to underline the eclecticism of the fusion of a boutique hotel, gallery space and a luxurious townhouse.

Almayer logos - 1The first series on the subject of canvas, easel, sea, winds and the letter A

We left Ante with the spirit of the characters from the novel, such as, the painter Plasson who, while painting the sea with the sea, tries to figure out where the sea begins. Or its counterpoint, the Professor Bartleboom, who tried to find out where the sea ends. Ante had to, like another character - Admiral Langlais, study winds, phenomena and tides from a distance, but instead of Adams - the man who saw Timbuktu in the novel, he sought and listened to celebrated ocean sailor Šime Stipaničev and his stories of the magnificent sea and the winds.

Almayer Logo 2The second series on the subject of prosing the sea

Throughout the series of the meetings and exchanges while amid the creative ambience of Ante’s studio, we painstakingly squeezed and refined the ocean of mutual ideas. Always reflecting the original idea of “prose the sea”, we gradually, step by step, came up with a visual concept direction which articulated the dialogue of the 8th and the final chapter in the novel.

Almayer Logo 3The third series on the subject of prosing the sea

“Say the sea.”
“And you were in there all that time, saying the sea.”
“But to whom?”
“It doesn’t matter to whom. The important thing is trying to say it. Someone will listen.”
“And you need all those sheets of paper to say it?”
“Well, no. If someone were able, all he would need is a few words . . . Perhaps he would begin with lots of pages, but then, little by little, he would find the right words, those that say in one go what all the others do, and from a thousand pages he would get down to a hundred, and then to ten, and then he would leave them there, to wait, until the excess words slipped off the pages, and then all you would have to do would be to collect the remaining words and compress them into fewer words, ten, five, so few that by dint of looking at them from close up, and listening to them, in the end, you would be left with one, only one. And if you say it, you say the sea.”

Almayer Logo FinalThe final series on the subject of prosing the sea

Almayer logos 4Texture with Almayer logo

Ante Portas

The visual identity of the Almayer hotel in Zadar runs throughout all the pores of the project. Some of its results, such as the iconic courtyard gates, have already become a part of Zadar’s city heritage. Declared by the public as the most beautiful installation gate in the Old town, the gate is an irreplaceable Insta-worthy location when strolling the city. Conceived from the start as an intervention and, at the same time, as an innovation in the Old city centre, the gates firstly deviate from everything existing, and, secondly, fit in with their diversity.

Almayer GatesThe most beautiful gates in Zadar (photo: Almayer Art & Heritage Hotel/Koridor 27)

The gate was built on the discovered and reconstructed ancient entrance of the medieval monastery courtyard. Made of hot-rolled steel, with its organic texture of lacy 3D structure, the gates were to monumentally fit into the historic context to articulate, not only the entrance but also the authentic spot connecting past and present.

Almayer Gatesphoto: Almayer Art & Heritage Hotel

Just like an art installation, with its refined interpretations, the gates offer a historical reflection on Venetian, Oriental and modern narrative. The gate is a reminder of Zadar’s city history - not just as a monument, but also as an aesthetically pleasing transition from the old exterior to the new interior.

Almayer Gatesphoto: Almayer Art & Heritage Hotel

The transparency of the gate allows for the desired discovery and offers a magical hint view at the Mediterranean lush greenery evoking an atmosphere of an authentic secret garden. This important correspondence of the street and the courtyard itself, the outdoor and indoor space offers welcoming revelation. The gates are unobtrusive, but at the same time dominant, visual expression confirming the epic example of Ante Filipović Grčić design power with the authentic Mediterranean, the cosmopolitan and bourgeois spirit of the Almayer Art & Heritage Hotel.

Almayer logo applicationsApplication of the basic design on the material and in space (photo: Almayer Art & Heritage Hotel)

Almayer Art CataloguesAlmayer Art Catalogues (photo: Almayer Art & Heritage Hotel)

Door signphoto: Almayer Art & Heritage Hotel

Thank you, Ante, you prosed the sea!

Ante i Marina Filipović GrčićAnte and his wife Marina Filipović Grčić (photo: Ante Filipović Grčić)

Visit 2FG Studio on the official website or social networks @2fgstudio and enjoy many of Ante's works.

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