Our Story The parts we
can still remember

 

Founded in 2002, ICRAVE has grown from a two-person design-build star-up to a 40 person internationally-renown studio. Since it’s foundation, ICRAVE has collaborated with both Fortune 500 and up-and-coming companies across a variety of sectors. The path to where we are today is full of unexpected turns led by an insatiable curiosity.

This is our story. 

 
 

Origins

Like every good story, the origins of our name are somewhat contradicting. Some say we came up with the name ICRAVE (correctly spelled in all caps, by the way) before Apple named the iMac’ and the iPod.  Some believe it roots from a play on “eye-crave” and others on “I crave”.  When Lionel was in college, he was driven by a desire to create work that went beyond just wanting something– ICRAVE implies desire, and at that moment our studio’s name was born. With time, the logo evolved to include the copyright symbol. It denotes the importance of creating designs worth protecting. ICRAVE isn’t named after a person, our names enabled us to build a creative collective were everybody has ownership.  

“I’m one of those people who always knew what I wanted to do. When I was six years old, I told my parents I wanted to be an architect. I would spend hours in my uncle’s office looking at model real estate developments while everyone else was at the beach.” – Lionel Ohayon

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The Making Of A Neighborhood 

Our very first office was in the heart of the Meatpacking District. Back then, it wasn’t the place to be – the streets weren’t for shopping and the highline was yet to be activated. We were a design-build company - most of our projects were nightclubs. To match tight timelines and build our founding portfolio, we relied on-site improvisation, we drew plenty napkin sketches, and spent our days running around on walkie-talkies.  Every deadline turned into a party, because that’s when the clubs would open.  One of our fondest early memory is painting stripes on the DJ booth at Dorsia about an hour before the place was supposed to open to guests.

“We were in the Meatpacking District before Western Beef became Hugo Boss, and the Apple Store became a destination. Back then, the streets were literally slick with beef fat from the still-functioning meatpacking plants.” -Greg Merkel, Director

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Diving Into Hospitality

STK was our first big project.  At that point, the Meatpacking District was just starting to explode, and we were right at the center of it all.  STK’s success led to us getting a project with W Hotels, and about that same time, Disney hired us to work on their new cruise ships.  It was an intense period of change, we grew up, and started to take on larger and more challenging projects

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Reinventing the Airport Experience

In 2006, we got a call from an airport restaurant operator. They wanted to collaborate with us to create a new model for in-airport dining. With a focus the travelers’ experience at the airport, we worked towards solving for anxiety by simultaneously looking at physical, digital, and operational solutions. This early work served as a testing ground to a new way of thinking. Since, we have applied this approach to innovate across sectors. By looking at the human experience, we were able to later transform how people shoo at Food Hall at le District and how patient experience for Cancer Care at Memorial Sloane Kettering.

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Building Our New Home 

In 2012, we moved to a new studio near Madison Square Park. We designed our space to be a hospitality environment where we could host clients, throw parties, and collaborate with our peers. The space faces Broadway and has an incredible amount of natural light. We call it our #1 experience design work. Everything we do springs from the functionality, flexibility and collaborative energy the space provides - it’s where our topnotch architects, designers and digital artists collaborate with our clients in a happy, inspiring place.

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Innovating Across Sectors

Sixteen years in, our studio has grown to 40 designers, strategists, and architects. Even though our projects continue to grow in scale and consistency - we think in the same way we did when we started.  Curiosity and rigor are our biggest motivators now and will remain as we continue to evolve. 

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