Grad’s Studio Rebrands Seattle Space Needle

Seattle’s Space Needle is among the great U.S. structures. Opened in 1962, the tower stretches over 600 feet high, with an observation deck and restaurant at the top overlooking the city’s downtown and surrounding mountains. The design recalls the height of 60s space race culture, with its saucer-shaped dome and curved supports, and that retro aesthetic was the inspiration behind its new website developed by Royale.

Originally founded in Los Angeles in 2007 by Brien Holman, Jen Lucero, and Jayson Whitmore, the award-winning design studio opened a Seattle branch last year, with the Space Needle project among their first major efforts. Their redesign of the site captures the spirit of the era the Needle was built, and updates it with innovative web features. Graphics and facts glide onto the screen as you scroll up from its base to the top of the tower, and keeps going with some surprises as you climb miles into space.

“Space Needle needed a new website and we wanted to create something that was fun and that was using some newer technology,” Jayson Whitmore says. “Overall we wanted to make something that was intuitive and easy to use, and was also a little tongue-in-cheek. It’s a very simple site that was beautifully designed and has gotten a lot of recognition – the team worked really hard on it.”

Jayson is a three-time Full Sail graduate and 2009 Hall of Fame inductee, and the opening of Royale’s Seattle branch has been a proud achievement for him and the studio’s co-founders as they explore new territory. While the L.A. office has made a name for itself with motion graphics work for Apple, Nike, Toyota, and MTV,Seattle is primarily focused on the digital realm, and how to blend Royale’s style with content for different platforms.

“It had been on the back of mine and my business partners’ minds that an expansion into that world was necessary, and its been incredible,” he says. “When we opened up the shop in Seattle it had three people and now we’re up to about 25, and have been jamming out some really innovative products. We have some incredibly talented thinkers up there that influence our work down here.”

There’s a clear symbiotic relationship between the two branches, with a focus on making them feel like one studio in terms of communication and workflow, while still having their own unique culture that helps inform each other’s output. Jayson sees the Space Needle project as just the beginning of what Royale as a whole can contribute to the digital industry, and they have been experimenting with coding, game engines, and experimental data tracking, and how to use them to help brands communicate to the world in an attractive and engaging way.

“I haven’t been this excited about our industry in a really long time,” he says. “We have a lot of other projects coming up that I can’t talk about that are very exciting and innovative, so we’ve only just scratched the surface of where we’re going in the integration of media. It’s a time to expand out and dream big, and it’s up to ourselves not to hold back and make it happen. There’s no reason why we can’t help define the next phase of what the digital language will be.”