Branding Wall is the 12′x10′ exposed concrete surface in the entry hall at SWA’s San Francisco office. The concept is to change the installation several times a year, not only to promote the office but also to encourage employees to use their talents on a non work-related project.
My idea was to create a continuing process of evolving art within an interactive space rather than just a final display. What’s the best way to create a sense of belonging to a space or a wall? I imagined a different meaning and a distinct relationship for each of the employees/artists and this particular place and I imagined that a map would bring up a wide array of feelings and interpretations. Place is a complex phenomenon, and maps connect people to their life experiences and personal history. A map is not only an essential tool of our profession, but this one represents the pride of our own city: San Francisco.
I chose the splatter approach for its organic nature and unpredictable quality; it seemed perfect for the collaborative exercise. We prepared six 2′ x 7′ stretched canvas panels and an adhesive stencil to represent the city streets; the splatter would stand for the blocks. The panels were laid down one Friday afternoon around Hooch time (aka SWA’s weekly get together) and everyone in the office was invited to be Jackson Pollock and freely throw, pour, drizzle, and splash paint. Besides the stencil, I controlled the paint colors and order (one color splattered at a time). With the company of music and drinks, the canvases were filled with dots, splashes, and squiggly lines in no time. The best part was the collaborative effort that brought us together, and the memories we made. Each of us recalls specific painting actions when contemplating the splatters.
When I came back to the office from a business trip a week after the splatter Hooch, the stencil had been peeled and the city revealed. The final step was to add paint to the open spaces. Chartreuse was chosen to draw attention to the greenery. The whole process was very engaging, good for moral, and enjoyable. I learned a lot from the labor-intensive preparation, all the advice I received, and the collaborative experience.
I hope that this wall displays the pride of SWA’s San Francisco office and that everyone can find their own sense of connection in it.