Experiential graphic designers from Entro (Toronto), architects from Kearns Mancini Architects and interior designers within Deloitte worked closely together to support Deloitte's corporate commitment of a collaborative and flexible workspace. The result: the colossal professional services firm is getting positive reviews from the staff who now work, engage with clients and learn inside their new national headquarters building in Toronto.
The building is part of Deloitte's national strategy that provides employees with increased flexibility and choice around how they work. They believe that employees can be more innovative and productive when they can choose their at-work environment that best suits their individual skills, styles, or immediate need. This approach, which Deloitte calls Orbis, redefines how employees and clients work. The new office offers 18 different types of workspaces for employees. It's a mix of individual and collaborative workspace as well as an atypically high number of social connection points, as well as a leadership and development center known as Deloitte University.
When Entro was brought on to develop a cohesive and engaging environmental graphics program for the building, their team had a lot to consider, including how best to support Orbis graphically and imbuing 420,000 square feet of space with a defining personality based on Deloitte's suggested theme of Canadian culture and values. In a context where space is transitional and where consultants come from around the world, they sought a visual language that would define the areas and be internationally understood. They also wanted to help assure that all the design elements—architecture, interior design, furniture, art, and the visual communications in the form of wayfinding and branding—would work together.
Entro typically begins a project like this with client interviews and on-site surveys to create the foundation needed to help form design decisions. Specific input and strong direction provided by Deloitte's knowledgeable design and communication team allowed for a compressed design timeline. "A unique attribute of the design process was our use of Deloitte's core values axiom of Confident, Clear, and Human throughout numerous designs and a multitude of applications. This driving force was necessary to Deloitte and informed many decisions—when to make a visual statement when to be subtle, where and at what scale to place graphics," says a member of Entro’s project team.
To supplement the Deloitte team's vision and ideas, Entro conducted an extensive competitive audit of office spaces worldwide. "Our analysis reinforced that the most successful office branding and graphics programs are strongly linked to corporate positioning and values, and they execute on those in graphical ways," says Entro. "So, our design intent to link to Deloitte's Orbis strategy, to tie back to their core values, and to connect to their 158-year history and commitment to Canada—rather than just creating something beautiful—was affirmed."
With an overriding theme of Canadian culture—iconic Canadian Wildlife, Heritage, City Maps, 3-D Text, Art, Canadian Landscapes and so on—each floor was given a unique character with sub-themes, floor level colors, and patterns of dots or lines applied systematically. Having curated suitable imagery, Entro worked out custom solutions with fabricators and millworkers to achieve cohesive results. They added an element of surprise by altering photography, combining photography with graphics and through the use of scale to create large landmarks and to give each floor a distinctive look.
While specialty floors were treated differently based on their functions, the principles of making a favorable connection between Canadian locality and workspace remained the same. For example, in rooms where treadmills double as desks, vibrant photos by Toronto photographer Michael Mahovolich inspire walkers.
One specific challenge of the project was achieving an appropriate balance of private, semi-private and public spaces in a workplace that was consciously using design to create a more collaborative workplace. Even 'private' offices were intended to be sufficiently open such that users felt part of what was going on while securing particularly sensitive operations. The solution was the creation and installation of privacy films of varying transparency and opacity specific to the need of a particular space's purpose. Printed with the same patterns or images on surrounding walls, these 'glass manifestations' were applied to over 24,000 square feet of plain glass, giving the appearance of being etched into the glass and blending into the surrounding graphics. Similarly, in some other locations throughout the building, Entro's graphics integrate seamlessly in a subtle but difficult-to-achieve customization that contributes to the overall sophistication of the design—a signature achievement of the environmental graphics program.
Another design challenge was the compressed timeframe in which to implement such a complex and very large graphics program, especially given the early need to simulate 'seeing' the unique graphics in their designated (and, as yet unbuilt) spaces, so there was much experimentation with placement, scale and lighting through the use of full-size mock-ups. When built, multiple phased installations required extensive collaboration among the project team, the client, and fabricators to achieve an optimal result.
Deloitte is satisfied that the exceptional quality of their work, and their forward thinking Orbis approach to work styles, is now accurately reflected in their office environment. "This space sets a benchmark for other firms, if not to the scale of Deloitte, in the ways they can interpret the work environment and it demonstrates the value of experiential graphic design, in real and perceived ways towards productivity and engagement."
Project Name: Deloitte Orbis
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Open Date: October 6, 2016
Project Area: 420,000 sq. ft.
Entro Experiential Graphic Design Team: Rae Lam Fox (Project Manager), Udo Schliemann (Principal Creative Director), Jacqueline Tang (Senior Designer), Gerald Querubin (Intermediate Designer), Shira Choi, (Intermediate Designer), Richard Anthistle (Project Manager, Retired)
Architect: Kearns Mancini Architects
Photos by: Entro