Inside the Studio: Lodge 26
By: Casha Doemland
Lodge 26, a creative and branding agency in Texas, recently went public after working at a private firm for over a decade.
"We started as an internal group called Bedrock Manufacturing Co, where our ultimate boss wanted to build a creative entity internally to help start-up companies as well as brands he invested in," says David Hummel, creative director of Lodge 26. "We worked on a range of products from guitars to dog food and kid's toys, and once we gained traction, Shinola appeared."
From there, a majority of Lodge 26's Art Director Sergio Moctezuma and Hummel's time was spent dedicated to building Shinola. After four years, Shinola moved up to Detroit, and their boss wanted to know what they could do that was outward facing. "Even though we still have a toe or two still dipped in the internal game," says Hummel, "he wanted to see if we could fly."
Three years later, Lodge 26 is full speed ahead at a space of their own in the Dallas’ entertainment district, Deep Ellum.
"The neighborhood is an extension of our space," says Hummel. "It’s a music and art neighborhood that's a little bit historic and gritty but fits our personality. Also, our parent company had a space and was like, 'would you like this?' And we were like, 'absolutely!'"
With 1,000-square feet (20 x 50), the office space is equivalent to a long garage.
Upon entering the front door, you are greeted by the L26 Lounge Space that comes stacked with a sofa, cozy chair and record player for when you need to sit back, relax and give your eyes a break from your computer. "We have quite a bit of vinyl that we listen to,” adds Amy Thompson, project manager of Lodge 26.
On the other side of the orange and red quilted partition, which supplied the lounge a unique aesthetic and an added sense of flair and comfort is a large open space lined with Color Studies from previous projects.
"We've developed this massive living-breathwork workspace between these two walls and immersed ourselves into it," shares Hummel. "It's equivalent to the sandwich shop owner that lives above his shop, like the only way to be is to live it and breathe it. And, the more you're amongst it, the more badass your product is going to be."
A television sits on top of a bookshelf with miscellaneous knickknacks and "Sup Nerd" spelled out on Lite Brite board shines bright underneath, with a large metal table living in the center of the room that serves as the perfect meeting and briefing area for clients.
At the end of the long, narrow space is a 3-way partitioned cubicle where the team cranks out the magic. Old stadium seats and lockers line the walls for a taste of nostalgia, Christmas lights hang in bunches, and a framed painting of what appears to be a baby David Bowie is displayed up high for all to see with a large poster of Frankenberry sitting pretty beside it. Scattered through the office, you'll find tiny bits of their personality, tokens added to give the clients a real taste of who Lodge 26 is.
"Our clients see everything here," begins Thompson. "Some companies take clients over to a conference room and rarely see the creative stuff, but here you see it all. Yeah, we still want it to look nice, so we have good lights, painting on the wall and succulents, but those are still things that we like and enjoy, so we surround ourselves with it."
"We think of our space as our 4th teammate," starts Hummel. "It's essential to our creativity, our work, our presenting, and our process. I think it's the quintessential tool and piece of what we do, how we convey it and how our clients interact with us."
"It's controlled chaos, and a peek in our brains," adds Hummel. “We set things up like this intentionally because we think it’s pretty neat to show a glimpse into our mind.”
While the team is happy to pull in big names, their ultimate goal, outside of being self-sufficient of course, is to help underdogs create a name for themselves.
“Everyone wants to work with well-known brands, but we like to go the other route,” shares Hummel. “We like mystery guests, and people who come in with a really dope product but isn’t delivering on a megaphone or getting awareness yet. We like to take the relatively unknown and then make it known.”
"We like to get to know them, figure out what they want, their needs and usually sit down after the initial meeting and discuss how to give the client what they want, while still taking them slightly out of their comfort zone," says Hummel. "I'm not talking the disrupter route, but we like to live in that realm of taking things to an even cooler and bigger place."
From there, the team involves the client in every step of the process because transparency is a huge part of their ethos. It’s essential to their bedside manner, and they’ve learned that clients really respond to it.
"We're like a Swiss army knife," says Thompson. "We do everything, and we're always doing something different." The trio has also developed a sense of trust over time, and they rely on one another heavily to fill in the blanks because there is no additional support.
"Basically, at Lodge, we're a family," begins Hummel. "We talk like a family, fight like a family, laugh and cry like a family. When you come into work, you're working with your second family."