Office Theme: Nature, Planes & Trains


An office of email and application developers in Virginia wanted to focus on some specific themes – railroads on the first floor and aviation on the second floor. The architects designed a non-traditional, two story structure in the center of the space that created some interesting challenges for development of graphics as well as installation. This challenge ultimately resulted in powerful, larger than life imagery spanning two floors — displaying local landmarks in a unique way.

Discussions began with the client wanting to theme one floor around railroads, one around aviators, and the central structure around natural areas. The client was cautioned that aviators and natural areas were not an original theme as they had both been viewed in other technology organizations as well as schools. This did not dissuade the client, so it was off to make a more original version of these themes.

The client’s desire for a railroad theme was tied to the significance railroads played in the state’s development. Research revealed many defunct railroads that originated in Virginia, but because they were so old, there was typically not any evidence of a logo or insignia of any kind. The client was presented with a list of railroad names along with their historical significance as well as the original logo (redrawn for high-resolution print purposes) or a newly created logo for those railroads that didn’t have them. Additional imagery placed in the area included an 1800s Virginia railroad map and closeup railroad machinery, all sized to go from floor to ceiling.

Although it was suggested to the client that aviators be avoided, a different “spin” on the theme was developed. Instead of focusing on famous aviators themselves, the focus would be on the aircraft that they flew. As with the railroads, a list of aircraft names (and associated aviators) and possible graphic representations were sent to the client for review.

Once the search for imagery became focused on the aircraft that famous aviators flew (not the aviators themselves), it became abundantly clear that even high-dollar editorial images with all the right permissions were not going to be of the quality or viewpoint that was needed. And then — the idea hit! Buy model planes and have a professional photoshoot, then bring the images into Photoshop, utilizing effects to create the final aircraft themed area.

The development of natural areas for the center structure within the office started with National Parks, but the client soon indicated they would rather focus on local landmarks. They provided a list of landmarks in priority order so that images could be searched for with that in mind.