Vök Baths
Designing a raw nature experience

Vök Baths from above
Client Vök Baths
Industry Hospitality & destinations
Services Corporate brandingExperiential spaces

The geothermal floating pools destination in the highlands of Iceland

A group of local entrepreneurs in East Iceland had an idea. They wanted to create an authentic geothermal pool destination on the beautiful Lake Urriðavatn. The location was unique, even in Icelandic terms: a pristine lake that sits upon a geothermal water source flowing with warm water that is so pure it’s certified drinkable – one-of-a-kind for Iceland.

We teamed up with the founders and Reykjavik-based Basalt Architects to create Vök Baths, a geothermal destination, featuring the only floating pools in Iceland, along with on-shore pools, a sauna, a restaurant, and a pool bar, plus staff and service areas.

Landscape of Vok Baths

Translating core values to a tangible destination design

From the start, we worked closely together with the founders on the concept and initial ideas for the location, as well as the business model.

The inspiration for Vök’s concept and brand comes from “tuskuvakir,” an opening in the lake’s ice that never freezes. The locals didn’t know what caused the phenomenon, and so many legends from the area speak of monsters and spirit animals. The actual source of the warm water wasn’t discovered until 1963. The name, Vök is the Icelandic term for a spring, and is a reference to this historical background

We developed a brand identity that builds on the water, the territory and the tradition, and a human connection – to the local nature and other people. The founders deep respect towards nature, and their genuine sustainable approach to developing the travel industry in the region is at the center of the brand.

We then translated these core values of the brand to both the physical, tangible destination, as well as the digital storytelling to create a unique and memorable customer experience.

 

vök baths pool
Logo design on signage for Vok Baths
Design of floating pools for Vok Baths
Design of pool experience for Vok Baths

The floating pools

The two geothermal pools float in the lake and are anchored down like boats, minimizing their environmental impact and bringing guests in direct contact with the lake. Evoking the special character of “Tuskuvakir,” the two floating pools are shaped like the openings of a frozen lake. Infinity edges blur the boundary between the artificial and natural environment, creating an undisturbed view from the inside of the warm pool to the cold lake.

The pools by Bluet required particularly resistant materials that would work in the harsh arctic conditions. The structure is large to give guests the best possible experience, and carefully positioned in the lake to ensure the best view of the surrounding nature.

Designing the customer experience

When working on the destination, we considered the customer journey through the different bathing experiences, for a varied, enjoyable experience for the Vök Baths guests. Our service design team also explored the local heritage, culture, and habits to build a multifaceted service offering nature and culinary experiences beyond just a swimming pool.

Vok Baths service design

"We didn’t want to just create a swimming pool, but a genuine multifaceted experience with the unique Vök water, a memory that travelers would bring home, and a destination the local community could be proud of."

Sigurdur Thorsteinsson, Partner

A cup of tea like no other

The Vök Baths experience begins with a cup of tisanes brewed with the spring water with local herbs. The custom-made tisane bar at the entrance hall features a statement copper pipe that carries hot water directly from the hot water spring below the lake. The concrete counter gives a natural, tactile feel.

Brewing a tea at Vok Baths
Custom designed bar at the Vok Baths restaurant
infusion bar at Vök Baths
water dispenser at Vök Baths

The water is the thread that connects nature to the individual well-being at Vök Baths, and the infusion bar is the perfect expression of that. Visitors become active participants in turning the unique gift from nature into a part of their well-being, by pouring themselves a cup. We created one piece of furniture, the infusion bar, as the focal point of this experience.

Silvia Cantucci, Experiential Spaces Designer
Vok baths water dispenser design

Cooking up the Vök food experience

Vök features a restaurant that serves lunch, coffee, and dinner, made using the Urridavatn water and local and organic ingredients.

Vök also brews custom beer, Vökvi and Vaka, available in the restaurant and pool bar. The labels feature natural colors and reference the shapes of the ‘vakir’ ice patches.

Interior design of restaurant for Vok Baths

Interiors inspired by nature

The Vök interiors feature light and natural shades that reflect the surrounding nature. The furnishings are custom made, using concrete, larch wood and grey tones, reminiscent of earth tones, allowing the exterior view to become the focal point.

The materials are natural, colors are in neutral tones of greys and blues to reflect the colors of the lake and the Icelandic skies. Close attention was paid to the materials and how they feel to the touch – tabletops are concrete instead of glossy artificial surfaces.

Vök Baths restaurant interior
Logo design for Vok Baths

Crafting a narrative for Vök Baths

Storytelling is essential for creating a successful travel destination. We developed the Vök brand identity and communication pillars to transmit the core values of respect for nature, genuineness, and sustainability in the digital experience of the destination.

We then built the communication plan, including style direction, early website, and social media strategy, working closely with the client on both the high-level strategy and the daily deliverables.

Branding guidelines of Vok Baths
Graphic desig of Vok Baths communication
Graphic design of brochure for Vok Baths
Vok Baths floating pools
Logo design on window for Vok baths
Vok baths logo on an apron
logo design prototype for Vok Baths
Graphic design of beer label for Vok Baths

"We loved this place! Clean, modern, not crowded, beautifully designed. I highly recommend it for anyone who goes to Iceland."

Tripadvisor guest review
Design of floating pools for Vok Baths

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