Breathe new life and energy into a historic motor inn and cocktail lounge.

  • Art Direction
  • Brand Identity
  • Brand Positioning
  • Copywriting
  • Digital Media
  • Environments
  • Illustration
  • Merchandise
  • Print
  • Signage
  • Social Media

Inspired by the independent spirit and dreamy possibilities of America’s first roadside motels, The Starlight Motor Inn is a reimagined historic motor inn in North Charleston, South Carolina.

Built in 1961 on the site of an old Studebaker dealership, The Starlight is recognized as the first modular-built motel in the South —and conceived as an affordable and accessible destination for everyday Americans and for decades lived up to its original name, “The Host of America.” 

In early conversations with the owner and operator, a native Charlestonian, and team, they shared their vision for an eclectic, inviting space that felt as warm and welcoming to locals as it did to guests from far flung places. Ultimately, they wanted to ensure the motor inn’s spaces and experiences were part of the fabric of the neighborhood — and quintessentially North Charleston.

The logotype is inspired by 1960s-era signage and typography, reinterpreted through a modern lens, while letterforms echo the brand’s eclectic, playful personality.

Branding, messaging and experience touchpoints are playful, eclectic, and inclusive — weaving together vintage references and modern expression with evocative details, creating a feeling that aims to be as cool and inviting as the Starlight itself. The primary starburst or north star mark references the original property signage and its tagline, The Host of America

Illustrated elements are used throughout the brand design, nodding to the motel’s eclectic character and good-time spirit. Patterns reflect the motel’s architectural details. 

Kind Words

We are so grateful for all the hard and thoughtful work you have done for Starlight. I have been so impressed with not just the quality of the design work but also your professionalism, clear and concise communication throughout the entire process, timelines, and general good cheer!”

Ham Morrison, Founder

In tandem with the brand design and materials for The Starlight, SDCO also crafted the brand design, print materials, and experience for The Burgundy Lounge, the motor inn’s original cocktail bar. Vintage-inspired typography, playful copy, and hues of cream, black, burgundy, gold, and rose complement some of the bar’s original wood paneling, paying homage to the cocktail lounge’s history — and offering a fresh perspective. 

The brand design infuses every part of the property — from the lobby, pool, on-site cocktail lounge to the guest rooms — creating a delightful, consistent, and immersive experience — from wayfinding, room keys, in-room stationery, and door hangers to photography, merch, pocket maps, menus, coasters, matchbooks, and landmark vintage-inspired signage.

Since its grand reopening, The Starlight has wowed guests and locals with its warm hospitality, mid century-meets-modern design, relaxing pool, and must-visit cocktail lounge — making it a proud North Charleston oasis where the possibilities for fun are endless — and everything’s alright.

  • Photography
  • Lizzy Rollins