The world’s leading independent PR firm wanted an inspirational Canadian headquarters with a hip vibe that would create energy and drive interaction. The client’s new location, in a standard office tower, was transformed into loft style space with open ceilings, polished concrete floors, open plan workstations and glass box meeting rooms that achieve this vibe. Another key objective was to ground the project locally.
A high level collaboration with renowned Toronto landscape photographer Nelson French was central to the design solution – providing creativity and articulating the architectural rhythm of the 20,000 sf space.
The refreshingly unique collaboration for workspace design, with Nelson French, establishes i) contextual grounding, ii) visual interest, iii) energy and character and iv) defines the space architecturally:
The landscape murals provide different aerial perspectives of the photo images – an important play on the powerful initial view from Reception to an old slate-roofed church in the square below (as in the large red wall mural). The images, all of Toronto and its surroundings, ground the project locally.
Bright colours and the juxtaposition of viewpoints provide visual interest, energy and depth. In one setting, bright red urban stairs defining adjacent meeting rooms are mirror images of each other. In another setting, the green aerial landscape view in a corridor is echoed within the adjacent meeting rooms with a similar scene in elevation – a playful rotation of the viewpoint axis. Clever positioning of images tie the glass box meeting rooms to the corridor outside, making the rooms appear larger and connected visually to the rest of the workspace.
The murals define neighbourhoods, establishing local patterns and providing bright colourful accents within the larger, mostly open, white work space. The substantial scale of the murals suits the architectural spaces.
The opportunity to present his photographs in a uniquely different way was immensely interesting to Nelson French, who collaborated actively on the project. Technical aspects involved in expanding the 10x14 inch black and white landscape photos to sizes as large as 9x26 feet included achieving proper resolution and scaling proportions. The images were printed on vinyl and installed by a firm specializing in large format wall applications.
The goals for a successful integration of commissioned artwork into the space were two-fold: architectural and chromatic. The opportunity to achieve an artistic tension by juxtaposing different aerial views next to each other was key to the design firm’s successful placement of images on the project. The murals are incorporated into the interior architecture. A hallway is no longer a typical corridor; it becomes a vehicle for adding perspective to the glass box. A wall is no longer a static design element – it has depth and a dynamic visual quality.
The addition of bright colour washes to the black and white originals adds character to the workplace. The images provide a unique, larger than life context to the design solution.
The client, its customers and employees are thoroughly pleased with the new space. The large wall murals are in keeping with creative, loft style space. The connection between a creative PR firm working in creative space appeals to all.
The bright colours define local neighbourhoods that are appreciated by staff housed in open plan workstations. Meeting room furniture, custom matched to the colours of the meeting room murals, adds another interesting element to the design solution. Finally, scaling of the murals adds a dramatic element to the character of the space – a highly successful solution.
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CODA: Collaboration of Design + Art
The global online community that celebrates design projects featuring commissioned artworks.
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Art matters. Attention to the details of our environment leads to love of place, which brings us to take responsibility for the spaces where we live and work. And by extension, the people with whom we live and work. And by extension, to our local communities, our cities, our nations, and our world.
We champion the role of artists in our society. We need artists to provide us with inspiration, creativity, and imagination, and to help us envision a better world.
Architects and designers know that remarkable design can change everything. They connect the dots across disciplines, collaborating with artists to make the world a more beautiful place. They are the ultimate patrons of the arts.
In the process, design professionals promote imagination and creativity, and through their commissions, make original art integral to and accessible in people's lives.
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The architecture of our buildings and the design of our interiors affect our happiness and well-being. Each of us deserves a daily dose of inspiration.