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January 2012. Jonathan Calugi, Valentina and I were sipping our coffees in the beautiful wooden bar of the Marriott Grand Hotel Flora in Rome, waiting for our meeting attendee to arrive. Our table was next to a window overlooking the leafy Via Veneto — that Via Veneto. Black and white images of the Dolce Vita were resurfacing right in front of our eyes, snapshots of great talents in the making and glamorous love interests trysts papped by Tazio Secchiaroli. It was almost impossible to elude those memories as they radiated from every corner. “The Rome Marriott Grand Hotel Flora was Fellini’s Roman headquarter” told us Stefania Sarno, SNG Hotels’ marketing director, ” and we kept his suite as it was”. In line with the hotel’s tradition of excellence we were in Rome to discuss a project between Jonathan and SNG Hotels. As Stefania explained us “the SNG Hotels, Rome Marriott Grand Hotel Flora and the Renaissance Naples Hotel Mediterraneo are tailoring a lifestyle, a complete experience for their guests, way beyond providing just a service. Our Communication & Marketing department has been collaborating with talented young designers for many years now, always looking to create a communication that is tailored around our clients.”
Fast forward to December 2013 and the long awaited collaboration has been released: titled “Never Ending Journey”, consisting of a print, an agenda and small travel trolley produced by Italian suitcase maker Carpisa, all bearing a bespoke artwork by Jonathan Calugi. Given as a Christmas present to all SNG’s top clients and business partners all over the world, the suitcase could also be purchased in the hotels’ gift store.
“The concept of the Journey was the main focus of the collaboration” recalls Jonathan, “but other than that I was given complete creative freedom. I started jotting down words and sentences that I felt were relevant to the theme, using them as an inspiration for the artwork. As per usual we discussed the project with the Machas team, and we you came up with the “Never Ending Journey”. I knew immediately the phrase would work well. I then built the artwork around this, creating a world where everything is connected.”
“This is not the first time that I have ventured into design territory, I collaborated in the past with Delonghi, Nike, Logitech. I think that my artwork adapts very easily to different uses, whether it is for brand identity, an advertising campaign or printed on tees. I believe that creating an artwork that can translate on different platforms is vital nowadays. Personally, I like working on design projects as the final result is a real object that you can touch, handle and store. It’s quite frequent that most of the projects I work on end up archived as a file on a hard drive and, if you are like me, chances are that they might get lost! Whereas with design projects I can keep them and see how time passing changes things.”
“Saying that, I don’t think there is a big difference between design and illustration - although many will beg to differ. I don’t want to be in purist of focusing solely on one aspect of my trade, I like the cross-pollination between different fields of creativity and I feel at ease trying my hand to new things. I once did an artwork for a t-shirt that said ” Free To Be Free” — kind of cheesy, but i feel it is the most difficult goal to achieve.”
On the client side, Stefania was satisfied with the outcome of the collaboration and she noted that “one of our top clients, who travels all over the world and is courted by many General Managers had sent a thank you note for his gifts, writing that the presents were the that makes you focus on the real world and on what really matters. He added that in his opinion, it was the best way to start the new year.”
“We fell in love with Jonathan’s style right from the very start,” explains Stefania, “we knew his lines would reveal a language that would be perfect for the mood we were looking for. He really did put his soul in the project, even going beyond his original commission by putting himself in the shoes of our Guests and dreaming with us!”