June 27, 2017

At Gensler’s NYC Office, Subtle Branding Takes Starring Role

For all the theatrical verve of Gensler, New York, it’s not the firm’s own name that’s lit up like Times Square. Creative director and principal John Bricker is subtler than that. He spends his days persuading clients that they needn’t use “explicit design elements,” he says, to express the spirit of their brands, and he certainly embraced that approach for his own office’s branding and digital design. He calls it “a lava-lamp experience, ambient rather than overt.”

Murals executed by a company that hand-paints billboards embellish the elevator lobbies. Image courtesy of Gensler.
Occasional tiles are powder-coated and bear messages in vinyl lettering. Image courtesy of Gensler.

Take the colorful mural extrapolated from the word design and sliced into segments to span the five levels. When the elevator doors open, no matter where, fragments of outsize letters appear, some vertical, others horizontal, and all in the Bodoni typeface. Likewise offering “moments of surprise and delight,” in his words, the gray subway tile found throughout is punctuated by a scattering of red versions bearing local or inspirational messages, such as “In a New York Minute” or “Stay Curious.” They are mounted high up, so you have to seek them out. Little rewards for staying alert to your surroundings.

LED screens introduce the staff. Image courtesy of Gensler.

As for the Gensler name, it does appear in each level’s elevator lobby—but rendered in restrained letters no more than 3 inches tall. Because the name is, furthermore, mounted on the walls opposite the eye-catching murals, you may notice it only on the way out of the office. A modest bow for the outstanding work produced there.

> See more from the May 2017 issue of Interior Design

Theater district signage inspired the stairwell marquee. Photography by Garrett Rowland.

Painted aluminum lettering appears in an elevator lobby. Image courtesy of Gensler.
Code-required restroom signage is rendered in acrylic. Image courtesy of Gensler.
The screens display a rotating selection of portraits. Image courtesy of Gensler.
The murals form a continuum throughout the five levels. Rendering courtesy of Gensler.

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