The Schaller Studio (part of the Art Series Hotel Group) is a Bendigo boutique art hotel that is dedicated to the Australian artist Mark Schaller. Its brand and hotel experience is build around the artist's works in a casual, contemporary and inspiring hotel atmosphere, reminiscent of an artist studio. To launch the new hotel in Bendigo, Art Series Hotel Group leased Bendigo's Talking Tram as a promotional surface for three years. With the objective to create awareness and impact amongst the locals and visitors alike, the tram had to convey the brand in a contemporary, innovate and playful way – within the limits of its historic appearance and workable surfaces.
After having branded The Schaller Studio, Toben was asked to conceptualise and design the exterior and interior of the tram.
We decided to pursue a concept that was visually striking on the outside, and to created an experience that was a little different and unexpected on the inside. For the exterior, some of Mark Schaller's most striking artworks were picked and paired with one of his signature 'nudes' that appears to ride along. For the interior, we wanted to convey a sense of the actual hotel experience.
To reflect the hotel as well as the artist studio narrative in the tram, we turned the tram into an artist quarter on wheels. Mark Schaller agreed to paint a stunning original work of art across the whole ceiling. Working closely together with the operator, we replaced some of the seating with a mixture of day beds, lounge chairs and work benches, and created coat hanger handles, suit case stools and chalk boards with inspiring quotes – all in line with the actual hotel experience. The work benches with their art utensils were placed against the window to invite guests to draw the impressions of their journey. From Mark Schaller's own journey and sketches, we designed a complementary top panel that illustrates the tram stops across the length of the tram as a circular journey.
The Schaller Studio tram received broad coverage on launch in all local press. It is continuously being featured in travel blogs and social media, and has become the backdrop for several partnership events. It has become a very powerful tool in promoting the hotel outside its usual parameters, and was extremely well received by locals and tourists:
"We had the pleasure of staying in Bendigo for a lazy Saturday getaway from Melbourne. We had tickets for the talking tram…..We managed to secure a ride on the Schaller Tram, which was decked out like you wouldn't believe - comfy sofa, original artwork, paint brushes, pots and spatter everywhere. We loved it!” (TripAdvisor March 2015)
Tourism Victoria picked up on the tram and featured it as an actual size cardboard cutout at the entry to their Super Trade Mission events in Asia.