An entrepreneur, creative director, nomad, marketer, and interior designer walk into a hostel. No, this isn’t the setup for a joke, but it is a kind of textual sleight-of-hand. As it turns out, all those people are really just one person, and that person also happens to be the owner of the hostel. That person is Joe Hindman, and Modal is his modern boutique hostel.
It’s fitting that Hindman has a laundry list of titles to call his own. He is the product of a huge variety of experience and inspiration—intellectual cross-pollination in the extreme. To start, there was Hindman’s undergraduate experience, where he dabbled in studio art and graphic design before shifting his focus to marketing and business. Then, his early career working in marketing and branding, which incidentally allowed him to live as a digital nomad across the United States before coming back to Greenville. All the while, Hindman looked for opportunities to collaborate with other like-minded creatives.
“At the time, I didn’t know what I was building towards, but I knew that I wanted to start something,” he says. And so he filled his Rolodex with inspiration, ideas, skills, and relationships.
During Hindman’s nomadic phase, he came across an idea that stuck. “I found a hostel called The Bivvi in Breckenridge, Colorado,” says Hindman. “It was done in such a high-end, boutique way, and it really blew my mind that I could spend forty dollars a night in a resort community like Breckenridge.”
It wasn’t just the high-end feel, either. “The space had people from all over the world, all different walks of life, all socio-economic backgrounds. And being a hostel, there was a kind of intimacy where we could find commonality in our humanity,” says Hindman. “It was really beautiful.”
As someone with a blend of entrepreneurial intrepidity and aesthetic acumen, Hindman found the hostel concept intriguing, and when he returned to Greenville, he saw an opportunity with the city’s burgeoning reputation as a tourist destination.
“It’s the convergence of all of my passions into one thing. I love people, art, travel, and having a local business in my hometown. Modal was the product of those guiding principles,” he says. A quick look into Modal confirms Hindman’s unique blend of perspectives. The interiors draw on different styles—urban industrial with touches of mid-century modern and contemporary Scandinavian—but it comes together in a vision of cohesive modernity. The artwork, too, is distinctly modern, but warm and quirky—and it’s sourced from local artists, which points to another defining characteristic for Modal.
While the hostel is Hindman’s vision, he drew on his relationships with other Greenville creatives. There are conceptual contributions from filmmaker MJ Slide; branding by designer Brinson McGowan; furnishings sourced through vendors like Whim; reupholstery by seamstress Celia Hamby; textiles sourced from Bill Mitchell; and coffee beans from Junto Coffee. Even the experience of naming Modal’s rooms passed through the hands of several people in a game of creative telephone: Hindman and MJ Slide came up with a conceptual framework for the rooms; designer Sarah Grace Kivett translated inspiration into iconography; and designer Rebecca Rhoden turned those icons into narrative print collateral.
But as much as Modal is a product of Hindman’s varied interests and passions, it’s also designed to facilitate the cross-pollination that has defined him. Hindman envisions a space for spontaneous collisions that lead to conversations, relationships, and the sharing of ideas and experiences between travelers and locals, made possible by the communal living experience and the spirit of creative collaboration. “We want to see the design and creative community make unique uses of the space for personal or creative expression. We just want to leverage this property to create more beautiful things.”
Photography by Will Crooks.