216 acres of pristine forest and countryside 15 minutes from Downtown Nashville—just far enough to escape and find yourself in a place unlike anywhere else. In this hidden, utopic property, nature, creativity, and hospitality mix to create a truly unique destination for relaxation, inspiration, and exploration.
Merging the ideas and values of a luxury retreat with a social and arts club, this property establishes an unprecedented point of view on hospitality and the arts. The design of the property—from the programming to the architecture to the site plan—is all about the juxtaposition of nature and creativity and the activation of curiosity.
Equal parts resort and retreat, the property hosts creative workshops and experiences, provides an artist residency program, welcomes guests of varying creative interests and skill sets, and offers individuals, groups, and families a place to relax, enjoy performances, and find their own inspiration.
To inform this project, our strategy teams conducted extensive research into the world of botany, became experts in the native plant species of Tennessee, combed through historical documentation of the Whites Creek area, traced the lineage of families who had roots in the area, and dove deeply into the Agrarian literary movement.
The Agrarian literary movement was born out of Vanderbilt and spearheaded by 12 Nashville writers, essayists, and poets. The Southern Agrarians were inspired by and rooted in the act of living close to the land, believing farming to be the highest vocation.
The movement extended beyond literature and represented a larger socio-cultural ideology of returning to the land, the soil, and agriculture.
Agrarianism represented a return to simplicity, a departure from the complications and distractions of urbanism. The idea was to remove the minutiae of fast-paced city life to reveal a purer, more divine picture of what it was to live a fulfilling life.
Philosophically, this idea is not new. From spartan monks to Henry David Thoreau to today’s environmental escapists, humans have always struggled to remove themselves from and survive within the complications of everyday life. We’ve always sought respite in calm waters, vast forests, and open valleys.
Just as the Agrarians turned to the land around them to produce physical and spiritual sustenance, we were creating an environment for guests to rely on the physical environment for creative inspiration.
We believed the relationship between nature and creativity was paramount to the property.
We dug into the history of Whites Creek and the surrounding area and found ourselves deeply entrenched in the world of botany. In this space, we discovered Agnes Arber, a British plant morphologist and anatomist, historian of botany, and philosopher of biology. The first woman for many of her achievements, Arber held a distinct view of the natural world and was heavily influenced by art, poetry, and philosophy. Because of her dichotomous view of nature, we found her to be the perfect patron saint for the property. So, we named it after her: The Arber.
This project experienced no shortage of influence. While we held our hands in the worlds of botany, Whites Creek heritage, and literary movements, we were also heavily inspired by the concept of craft. Running parallel to the Agrarian movement in many ways, The Arts and Crafts Movement advocated economic and social reform and was anti-industrial in its orientation. It celebrated traditional craftsmanship and intermixed medieval, romantic, and folk styles of decoration.
The brand identity was applied across the property to create a consistent brand ecosystem.
In addition to The Arber name, we were tasked with naming various key points across the property from restaurants to bars to lounge and gathering areas. Within our massive index of research, we uncovered names that tied back to historical figures within the Whites Creek area, native plant species, and vernacular terminology. Our naming lexicon was varied and allowed for the future growth and further development of the property.