Brand Strategy, Brand Identity, Art Direction, Web Design, Collateral, Photography, Language
Cuyama Buckhorn

Mid-century bones and small town hospitality, sitting in the heart of the Valley of Enchantment was a piece of Central California history that a very special team wanted to revitalize. The vision we had then is now coming true, a true-to-its-roots historic hotel that brings people together to enjoy food, drinks, and each other’s company. Helping bring it to life meant working outside my typical creative roles, taking on tasks from brand partnerships to operations.

Throughout the refreshed property, thoughtful details nod to a storied past while embracing modern comfort. Partnerships with local family farms and organizations help us bring the flavor of the Cuyama Valley to each passerby who drops in for a drink or a bite to eat. As a family-run business, we want everyone who comes to the Buckhorn to leave feeling like family. So please—come as you are, stay as long as you like.

cuyamabuckhorn.com →


New Cuyama (from the native Chumash “kuyam”, meaning clam) was a dream of the desert west. The high desert plain and mountains made ideal grazing lands for homesteaders and cowboys of the 19th century. An oil boom in the 1950s, when Cuyama Buckhorn was constructed, brought new families and farms to the quiet valley. The glamour that came with that liquid gold made the hotel an iconic destination for folks as far away as Bakersfield. It was important to honor the history of the Buckhorn in our design elements, bringing together classic cowboy western motifs and streamlined mid-century elements. Genuine historical photographs, documents, and advertising inspire and integrate into new collateral throughout the property.


Since its establishment, The Buckhorn has gone through many iterations and owners. Our role with this project was to restore what was once there, from seeing the original motel room block walls and finding the opportunity to use what was originally there as a blank canvas, to reimagining the original buck logo that was carved into the bar door back in the ‘50s.

The identity was inspired by a combination of mid-century design (with a hint of farmhouse) and a past western cowboy era. We were approached with the struggle (and opportunity) to create an identity that attracted new resort guests without alienating the local community that has stayed true to The Buckhorn since 1952. The color palette reference the natural landscape while the typography utilizes fonts both of past decades and today.

As co-owner Jeff Vance states in our featured episode of Magnolia Network’s (re)motel, “You want to design something, build something, or embrace something from the past that’s gonna stand the test of time, we try to listen to what an old classic building was telling us. We try to listen to the terrain and the land. We dug in deep on it, and brought it back to what was started in 1952 and then brought it to today’s more modern standards.”


We worked with the talented Aaron Joel Underwood of Unto Dust to build out a library of illustrations that represented the different pillars of our brand and businesses as a whole.


We sourced our bathrobes, towels, and bed linens from Brooklinen to keep a consistent feel throughout the guest room experience. Our local partners, High Desert Print Co. embroidered our logos onto the robes.


We commissioned Aaron Joel Underwood to design and illustrate our property map to help guests navigate around our indoor & outdoor spaces.


The Buckhorn Market’s goal is to feature the local goods that our valley produces, while offering some branded sourvenirs to remember your trip out to the Hidden Valley of Enchantment by. We worked with High Desert Print Co. to print and embroider all of our apparel. The shop is also available nline at shop.cuyamabuckhorn.com.


Cuyama Buckhorn’s digitial experience was custom designed in-house and built in collaboration with David Jaffe of Odysys. Explore the full site at cuyamabuckhorn.com.

Through a mix of photography and designed graphics, our social media channels are highly curated with a focus on event promotion and updates on our property. Follow along at @cuyamabuckhorn.



We worked with Stephanie Russo & Brian Chorski to capture the essence of Cuyama Buckhorn both on and off property.


Stephanie’s work features the on-property resort experience from the in-room details to our robust food & beverage program. We focused on capturing lifestyle and moments on property through an editorialized lens, as well as photographing the updated interiors & exteriors of our revamped property.


Our shoot with Brian focused on the outdoor activities that the Cuyama Valley offers — all shot on film no less! This shoot was geared towards capturing moments in time: a bike jump frozen in mid-air, a couple stopping for lunch during a hike, a connection with a horse on the ranch.


Events and programming play a key role in the Cuyama Buckhorn experience. Each event is designed with a specific audience and demographic in mind, whether it’s a cooking and education focused event like the Wild Flour Weekend, or a family-friendly weekly movie night set outside on our lawn under Cuyama’s starry night sky.

Thanks to ︎︎︎

Our Proprietors: Ferial Sadeghian (hi, mama! 👋) and Jeff Vance
Brand & Marketing: Savannah Fox, Sara Morgan, and Lizzy Cheshire
Photography: Brian Chorski, Stephanie Russo
Illustration: Aaron Joel Underwood, Carly Blumenthal
© 2023 Kiana Toossi
In New York but missing California