How can art transform the entrance experience of a building?

A building’s entrance is a company’s first opportunity to leave a lasting impression with its audience. As the threshold that bridges the emotional gap between the exterior and interior, the entrance experience plays a pivotal role in establishing the values and identity of a brand, while creating an atmosphere that’s both welcoming and memorable. 

We think that first impressions still go a long way, so here are a few of our finest entrance experiences and the concepts that we focused on to make them happen.

Unique User Journeys 

Wayfinding and environmental graphics are often an afterthought for a project, with sometimes little to no budget assigned for it in schemes at all. However, clear orientation and navigation are essential components of every entrance, lobby or reception space. If considered as an opportunity, there are limitless creative possibilities to reimagine the user journey into an exciting and engaging experience the visitor won’t forget.

In ‘Submotion’ for 20 Farringdon, we designed a striking lighting installation inspired by the flow of water from the River Fleet that runs directly beneath the area. 650 light batons are carefully positioned above the entrance and flow generously throughout the building, organically guiding visitors on a journey through the reception and beyond.

The installation also has the option of being set to a continual, steady glow of light, to reflect Farringdon’s perpetual flow of energy and movement, echoing the motion of passers-by outside. By using seemingly functional light sources as a decorative installation, we surprise the visitor with a unique journey that they will remember long after they have left the building.

Texture & Materiality

While not everything in a building’s entrance should be touched, texture and interesting materials are a fantastic way to encourage tactility and stir a sense of intrigue with the audience. The more inquisitive people feel without feeling confused, the more likely they are to remember what they’ve seen, felt or engaged with.

‘Wake’ celebrates the rich history of Canary Wharf and London’s Docklands through hundreds of miniature sculptural boats suspended in air, representing the hustle and bustle from thousands of long journeys by sea. As guests enter the building, they are greeted by the twinkling and glistening of reflected light from the boats that mimics the effect of the ocean’s surface. 

‘Fleeting’ by Irish textile artist Debbie Smyth references the publishing history and iconic architecture that surrounds Fleet Street. The concept captures the perspective and depth of the vast array of buildings as well as the energy and vitality of what was known as London’s ‘Newspaper Street’. Her work beautifully blurs the boundaries between fine art drawings, textile art, 3D work, illustration and embroidery, literally lifting the drawn line off the page in a series of ‘pin and thread’ drawings. 

The playfulness of the light effect produced by Wake captivates the viewer as they try to decipher the nostalgia they feel by the simulation of water, the highly reflective and aesthetically pleasing flurry of colour adding to the sense of awe as you enter the building. The combination of 2D and 3D in her work invites the visitor to study it closer, to gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of its unique design.  

High-Impact Installations

Sometimes, subtlety won’t do and it’s a case of go big or go home. With a few of our more dramatic installations, we’ve had the opportunity to take a concept to the next level by creating an impressive display that will always leave the visitor wanting more. 

‘C-stock’ is a modified tube carriage containing original elements combined with extensive customisation, repurposing it as a place to sit and work. Inspired by the London underground lines that run directly beneath, C-stock serves multiple functions as a meeting space, waiting area and installation piece that shocks unknowing commuters as they walk past.

Suspended forty meters above the ground, ‘Timeless’ is a giant timepiece that provides order amongst what at first appears as a visual chaos, linking the past to the present. The Roman-inspired typeface designed specifically for the installation is illuminated in a varied palette of colours, connecting the letters and spelling out the time every hour throughout the day.

By taking inspiration from the building’s history as a historic site of Roman bath ruins, we engage the viewer in a larger-than-life manner that connects them to a different time and place, creating an unforgettable experience as they pause to observe the breath of the artwork.

Final Thoughts 

These are just a few of the ways we’ve engaged with a brand story, locality and/or history to design a creative intervention that reimagines the entrance experience for their building. However, these elements can often intertwine and overlap and that is when the most engaging ideas reveal themselves.

When designing an entrance experience, the key is understanding what the client wants to communicate the most and what they want their visitors to think, feel and do as they enter the space. That will govern the creative process to lead to a creative manifestation that bonds people to the environment that surrounds them.

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