Born in Italy in 1989 Giacomo Felace is an Italian Art Director & Brand Designer
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︎      Building an Asian lifestyle brand

Written by Giacomo Felace

          We live in an era where lifestyle brands are lack of strong and distinct personality. Companies are obsessed with target audience and are eating insights instead of building their proper vision and tribe.

Now more than ever, this type of top-down, and social analytics focused approach doesn’t work.

Potato Head is different. It‘s an Indonesian-born brand that has been built from the ground up with a focus on sustainability, art, and culture.It’s awesome to see a lifestyle brand emerging not from big chain focus groups but from the singular vision of an entrepreneur focused on culture and community like Ronald Akili.

Potato Head began as a restaurant in Jakarta. It has since grown to include outposts in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Bali. The Desa Potato Head property in Bali has a beach club, a boutique hotel consisting of suites called Katamama and the oceanfront Potato Head Studios.

Akili’s key is the knowledge of how to build a community with solid and clear pillars. In a place like Bali, where tourism is growing and there can be little to no interaction with the local community - collaboration and meltingpot are the real opportunities.

Potato Head manages an incredible balancing act. Its properties are beautifully designed with a twist of Balinese culture and they attract global creatives like Peggy Gou, Virgil Abloh, and DJ Harvey. There is an emphasis on sustainability, culture and the mix of different approaches. There is a feeling of respect and harmony.

The same can be said from the property outwards. The relationships with local farmers and craftsman are strong — and you get the sense that the community has been intentionally crafted in a symbiotic way that respects the core DNA of the Island but also makes it contemporary in some ways.

The brand culture that has been developed is not an accident. It has been built up and iterated over time. It’s one thing for a hotel in a tourist area to cart in international DJs by the ton and throw up galleries, but it’s another to cultivate new scenes and serve as a catalyst for things that already exist. 

With Potato Head, one gets the feeling of an emerging local and global brand coexisting at the same time.

The culmination of modern art, hospitality and music are all packaged through an Indonesian lens. And it’s based on elements both ancient and new, through food, music, design, and craft.

This is exactly what I mean for building a brand. The aspiration to go from a “just-a place/product/service” to a “lifestyle brand” with clear foundation and personality. The opportunity to export your culture on a bigger scale through different platforms and channels - trying to make the difference on this planet.

© 2020 Giacomo Felace     Boring Stuff