Olson Environmental Graphics

Play at Work: Olson

At advertising agency Olson, creativity and connection are what it’s all about. When the rapidly expanding firm secured 125,000 square feet in Minneapolis’s historic Ford Center building, they asked Gensler’s Brand Design team to focus on connections central to the firm’s philosophies and success. They also wanted the building’s industrial character to shine through.

The Gensler team chose sustainable reclaimed and industrial materials that connect the new space and the building’s rich history. An eclectic mix of found objects and commissioned art reflect the variety of individuals, clients, and processes that comprise the firm. The new space includes Brand Rooms dedicated to key clients and integrated displays that recognize visitors and showcase Olson’s brand anthropology studies. 

Environmental graphics are a key to telling the story. From the exterior, Olson’s brand mark is boldly visible—in the style of Georges Russe—spanning four floors of exterior-facing elevator lobbies. Inside, the concept of connections emerges as soon as visitors exit the elevators. Floor identifiers are in the form of large-scale graphic artworks by local artist Danica Adler, who wove multi-colored strings into patterns of nails. In the 10th floor entryway, the Olson mark finds expression again in a dimensional logo wall made from hundreds of bronze tubes. For Olson it was a symbolic way to illustrate that, like the logo sculpture, the company’s “sum” is greater than its parts.

--This story originally appeared in eg magazine No. 07, 2014

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This project was a Merit Award winner in the 2013 SEGD Global Design Awards. See the complete Design Awards archive.

Client:  Olson

Location:  Minneapolis

Budget:  Confidential

Project Area:  125,000 sq. ft.         

Open Date:  February 2012

Design:  Gensler

Design Team:  Bill Lyons (principal in charge), Betsy Vohs (project manager), Amy Barthel (graphic design, illustration, signage), Jason Hall (design director), Beth Nist (interior design), Beth Mosenthal (interior design), Kate Levine (project architect), Mark Spencer (technical director)

Fabrication:  SDDI (fabrication and installation of signage and wayfinding), Pictura (vinyl graphics), RJM (general contractor), Mirror Wall (paint), Danica Alder (string artist), Sunrise Painting & Wallcovering (painting contractor)

Photos:  Pete Sieger

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