Case Study

Samarasa Center

Brand identity and environmental design for a yoga, Pilates and wellness center in Echo Park, Los Angeles
Samarasa Center

Body full of light.

Samarasa Center is a yoga, Pilates and wellness center in Echo Park, Los Angeles. Founded by an American yogi who had spent 10 years practicing in India, the goals of the center were to bridge the gap between the two camps most yoga studios fall into: those projecting “tradition” via the borrowed interest of incense burners, lotus leaves and OM symbols; and those completely devoid of tradition, offering a trendy workout but without the depth of spirituality, foundational knowledge and principles of the authentic practice. Because the founder is not Indian herself, our challenge was determining how to honor the traditions of yoga without cultural appropriation, and to create a hip environment that would be competitive with other fashionable Los Angeles studios, appealing to novices and advanced practitioners alike.

As a solution, we embraced these contradictions. The meaning of the center’s name – Samarasa – refers to the point of rest at the center of opposing forces: old and new, masculine and feminine, color and emptiness. The branding bridges this duality with a dynamic logo symbol based on the sacred Hindu Tripundra, or Shiva’s third eye, which shifts between 36 brand colors, and a clean, black logotype reduced to its most essential shapes (triangles are another common element in Hindu iconography).

Extended to the physical space, the branding is an innovative blend of modernism and mysticism. We designed an array of murals inspired by sacred geometry and these principals of duality, and commissioned local mural artist Andrew Haan to bring them to life. A custom neon sign with the center’s motto – Body Full of Light – welcomes visitors to a space that exudes both energy and peace.

Throughout the center, thought was given to the best placement of different elements so as to support, rather than distract from, the use of the space. In the yoga rooms, geometric linework acts as an aid for focus, balance and concentration, while common areas make use of bolder, more colorful and eye-catching designs. The space opens out onto a main thoroughfare, and a huge triangle radiating bands of color attracts foot traffic and is optimized for selfies. In all, we believe the branding helps the center achieve the balance its name aspires to.

Photos courtesy of Jenifer McNeil Baker.

* Finalist in Fast Company’s Best Retail Environments of 2019

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