Challenge: For their new tech hub in San Francisco, Bloomberg wanted to create a space that embodied their status as an established and innovative technology company. There would be no ping-pong tables, silk screened inspirational posters, or playroom-inspired spaces. Bloomberg is not a startup, but a mature leader in the technology space.
Situated on the 22nd and 23rd floor of the art deco-era 140 New Montgomery building, Iwamoto Scott’s space honors its history yet is also a bespoke environment, modern and sophisticated. Volume was asked to extend the narrative of the space through a visual identity that included way finding and environmental graphics.
Solution: It’s a case of “site-specific branding”: finding the right intersecting balance of the holistic Bloomberg brand and then the actual space, in terms of where it’s located (city, neighborhood), the architecture of the space, and then the specific activities people are doing in the office.
First and foremost, we wanted to ensure our solution seamlessly wove itself into the architecture—a natural extension of both the existing architecture and Iwamoto Scott’s new design. Colors and textures were chosen to complement the steel, wood and glass used in the space. Panels were treated like the steel of the architecture and spaced off the brick and concrete of the original construction to create a “cushion” between old and new.
The tech hub is a laboratory of science and art. Its occupants will be taking the data Bloomberg is so famous for mining and attempt to create new uses and applications. Addressing not just the split second now, but the far-flung future as well.
The main visual narrative revolves around the Platonic solids, symbols that also straddle the line between art and science. Codified in ancient Greece, the Platonic solids were thought to be the base material of the physical world while also having spiritual and symbolic significance.
All the meeting room names are derived from this system and visually play out most prominently as distraction banding for the glass walls. These solids “unfold” in tessellating horizontal bands that speak to both the concrete world (white vinyl) and the creative potential of that world (translucent vinyl).
This motif also plays out on the stairwell doors, where the “view” of the five foundational solids “rotates” from floor to floor. More complex solids are used in the larger rooms, such as the floor-to ceiling-sized ones for the glass wall of the “Void” (quiet reading) room on floor 23.
Because Bloomberg is planning tech hubs in other cities, we created a system that would also“localize” each instance. First, meeting rooms are identified not only by their names, but also an exact GPS location. Data is at the heart of Bloomberg and this was a way to bring it directly into the wayfinding system. Secondly, while we used Bloomberg’s brand typography for any text, we commissioned a type designer to create a custom number set inspired by the building’s history. Lastly, through extensive research we identified key local research-based discoveries and accomplishments—Bloomberg associated or otherwise—throughout history. We then imprinted them (with their distance from the office) on small plaques that were distributed throughout each floor on the existing brick and concrete. Additional plaques were even installed over the tile in the bathrooms. (Every moment is ripe for education and inspiration, no?)
Historical precedents also come into play in the form of “inspirational vignettes” that are silkscreened in metallic gold on steel panels attached to the existing concrete columns. Sample vignettes include a diagram of how the eye moves when viewing the Nefertiti bust, one of Darwin’s Origin of the Species charts, and an infographic that compares the sizes of various organisms against their life spans. Examples from the past are showcased to motivate future accomplishments.
More practically, we created a system of clips on the wall facing the reception desks that allow the employees to post information about events (Today, Soon) and more whimsical, inspirational content (Always).