The fictitious identity of Xenia hotels
In the early 50s, after two world wars and one civil war, the Greek state was effectively bankrupt. On that basis, the Greek government decided to initiate the ambitious Xenia project; a nationwide hotel construction programme aimed at creating accommodation infrastructure. That would set the basis for the development of a tourist industry, to contribute in rebooting the economy. Throughout the 1960’s and 70’s the 59 functioning Xenia Hotels thrived financially. Although widely celebrated for their glorious post-war modernist architecture, they however never had a consistent visual identity. By the 1990’s, after decades of mismanagement, the Xenia project became inextricably linked to the Greek financial meltdown and fell into administration.
By blurring the boundaries between tourism, graphics, and fiction, ‘The fictitious visual identity programme of Xenia Hotels’ is a concept project within which we travelled back in time to create the visual identity of the once glorious, now abandoned Xenia Hotels in Greece. In collaboration with photographer Polly Brown, we created an ambitious image series presenting the imagined brand identity within a past that never happened. In this past, the Xenia hotels flourished; the de-industrialisation of Greece did not happen in the 70s. By the mid-80s the famous Omonia square in Athens was not reduced into a concrete platform and after 2011, 400.000 Greeks never left the country because there was no crisis to escape from. An alternative past has the opportunity to become a brilliant future. Fictitious, but brilliant.
‘The fictitious visual identity programme of Xenia Hotels’ is the first instalment of Time travel branding; a trilogy of concept projects advocating design as a form of speculative research and presented as a series of talks across Europe and the US.