Q&A with Creative Director Robert Louey

As Creative Director at the award-winning branding and lifestyle studio Tzelan, Robert Louey shares what it means to create a timeless brand.

April 29, 2021

Over the last 30 years, Robert Louey has built an international reputation by blending emotionally stunning imagery with simple yet powerful language to create strategic identities that solve complex communications challenges, often branding not just a product, but an entire experience. As Creative Director at the award-winning branding and lifestyle studio Tzelan, Louey believes that the soul of a brand begins with its people, and that by working from the inside out, brands are able to create a strong foundation of shared experiences that engage, enrich and motivate us to connect.

As Louey set off to conceive The Newbury Boston brand, he tapped into nearly a century of rich memories echoing from the hallowed hallways of the historic Boston hotel. It was this inside-out perspective that allowed him to create a space that will define luxury for modern Boston hotels and has become The Newbury’s timeless moniker. 

We sat down with Creative Director Robert Louey to discuss his vision for The Newbury Boston and what it means to create a heritage brand in today’s world. 


Given your impressive 30+ year career in luxury hospitality branding, what were your first thoughts when approaching The Newbury Boston?

Without any doubt, the deep heritage of the property. She has a remarkable and storied history. Everyone we spoke with lovingly referred her to the ‘Old Ritz’. Not in terms of place, but in the glamour of her grand socials. Our thought was to create an exquisite and timeless experience which would capture all of the resplendence and emotion of that ‘once upon a time’ in the most modern of ways.

Had you met before? What did you know of her history?

The word ‘timeless’ is such an overused catch phrase in today’s present experience descriptions. In the span of 30 years in hospitality, we can name only a handful of properties which were truly, timeless. ‘Timeless’ is not a given moniker, it is earned. The Newbury Boston has earned it, day after day, year over year. A truly earned and exalted title of legacy becoming legend.

What about her architecture, color palate and overall feel inspired you most?

The building is iconic. The location is iconic. It is not likely landmarks of this kind will ever be built again. The reimagining of the interiors of this timeless novel were created with a simple purity. The language which could transcend many cultures, time and place. An upscale yet inclusive place where Boston and the world can  celebrate the very best times of their life, together.

As you say, the soul of a brand begins with its people and purpose, and that you mature brands from the inside out as part of your creative process. What did you identify inside The Newbury that translates to today’s outward vision?

A brand is not earned by words, it is earned by accumulated actions with an unwavering and unparalleled consistency of excellence. The true brand pillars are, its people and its culture. It is everything. So much time goes into crafting the fundamental culture which will be infused through its people. Their pride of service, the respect and love of the brand they represent, and most of all, their passion for hospitality. They care for each guest in the most genuine of ways. Hospitality is the soul of the brand. Person to person.

Tell us about the moment you conceived of the idea for her voice? What did the process entail?

Everyone called her, ‘her’. There are masculine properties and there are feminine properties. Without doubt, ‘she’ is all feminine. Full of elegance and assured strength. Possessing a rich beauty which matures magnificently with time. We did not give her a voice, but rather, her voice was always there, always resounding and resonant. Through almost a century, it was loud and clear for the entirety of the Boston public. Everyone knew her melodies. Our promise to her was to preserve the purity of her song and give permanence to those songs in the highest modern fidelity. Lyrics infused in memory as well as those yet to be made, impossibly romantic, her love affair with the people of Boston.

How did you determine what invisible stories and emotions were the best fit to live on in the guest experience for The Newbury?

The time we spent in conversation and sharing thoughts with The Newbury team was a most enriching experience. An unforgettable storytelling moment. It gave us the foundation and inspiration for creating each pillar for the cultural platform and core values of The Newbury philosophy. The hallowed halls of the property are full of echoes and life stories. A near century of celebrations of exceptional living, through generations. Legendary service, remarkable taste, extraordinary flavors and unforgettable events. Our goal was to preserve, renew and craft the finest spirit of this passion onto a new and enduring stage of the Newbury so that an entirely new generation can live their most well-crafted life.

What are the tangible and intangible aspects of The Newbury brand?

While a great deal of time is spent in creating tangible values of The Newbury experience, all of our underlying focus is guided by the intangible. The emotion, the feeling in every aspect of one’s experience at the property. Memories are shaped by emotion. This is holistic in nature, guided by shared values. The Newbury Boston has become a shared social value that unites people from diverse backgrounds, all under one roof. The idea of “craft life” can mean something different for everyone, but fundamentally, it is about appreciating the finer things in life, the enthusiasm for something made well, and the permission to enjoy and love what you love and love it well. It is the passion of old world craft fused with new world charm. The Newbury defines luxury for modern Boston today, and eternally for Boston tomorrow.

What is your favorite curated space in The Newbury Boston that contributes to the overarching narrative?

We all have favorite spaces for our emotions of the time. A well-crafted home has all of the spaces and places to indulge the emotion of the hours. Cozy hideaways, lively and magnificent see-and-be-seen social spaces like The Rooftop and quiet pensive places for thought and conversation such as The Library. For every emotion, there is a time and place. They are all our favorites.

The Newbury adores calling Boston its home. If Boston were a style, how would you describe it?

Style endures in its ability to evolve with society and the culture of progress. Boston is sharp, crisp and classic without being classical. A showing confidence of its own without being trendy or falling into fad. Boston style is its very own quiet cool.

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