Rabobank is the world’s leading food and agribusiness bank that recently performed a complete renovation of their Sydney headquarters. The remodeled workplace called for the development of a series of branded placemaking and signage installations across five levels of their Australia & New Zealand regional hub.
One of the primary drivers for the feature installations was to ensure seamless integration of any experiential branding into the interior design, which was completed by Geyer Sydney. Their brief was “to create an environment that would act as an initiator of change across Australia and NZ […] creating a new working environment where staff & visitors could experience the cultural attributes of warmth, commitment and expertise that differentiates Rabobank”.
The interior design supported this intent by creating a warm, “domestic” feel throughout, making the workplace feel like a natural extension of the rural communities that the bank serves. Natural, honest material palettes and simple spatial interventions were developed to create a workplace that eliminates boundaries, encourages physical movement and collaboration and helps to bridge an urban-rural divide between staff and customers by providing the city-based employees with a constant reminder of connection to the land.
Within the new space, a series of walls, surfaces and backdrops were allocated for environmental graphics and two key spaces were designated for feature placemaking installations on the shared community and client floor. The intention for these graphic pieces was to activate spaces and encourage an agile working environment that staff would engage with and enjoy being in, while cementing a strong internal culture through interpretive storytelling. The signage scope also extended to wayfinding, branding and destination IDs, regulatory signage and digital interfaces for workplace technology.
Drawing inspiration from the bank’s core agricultural business, the design team at THERE developed a series of textural patterns that referenced the distinct graphic language of cartography and land-mapping. These patterns then formed the basis of a series of touchpoints. A bold, mono-chromatic visual language was used as a graphic backdrop to a new internal staircase that provided a seamless circulation pathway up through the building. By creating a dynamic graphic that moved its way up through the workplace, users were encouraged to explore spaces beyond their traditional team area, as the patterning takes on a different feel as it transitions to each level. Three-dimensional level identification signage was integrated into the design to further aid vertical navigation.
THERE then developed a simple wayfinding system and iconography for key destination signage using the graphic language, resulting in an understated and elegant spatial experience that helps to harmonize different floors and spaces while allowing each space to retain a sense of personal identity. Graphics were further applied to the elevator lobbies and locker banks, helping to activate otherwise forgotten operational spaces.
Major placemaking installations are also located on the client reception floor, which features a range of communal meeting and breakout spaces. Animating the main access corridor, a lenticular wall installation displays rural imagery alongside digital screens that tells the various stories of Rabobank’s customers.
Inside “The Forum”—a major client presentation space—the pattern language was extrapolated into a three-dimensional installation. There, a series of digital screens are flanked with extruded rubber rods in a vibrant orange color—echoing the bank’s distinctive branding. The rods were designed to appear as if growing from the wall, softening the space with a tactile wall-cladding. The rods were inspired by fields of wheat moving in the wind, providing a further visual connection to the land that serves the bank’s many customers.
"This submission achieves a balance between effective corporate wayfinding, meaning that it helps people easily move through and understand the space, while conveying a sense of whimsy. The iconography, patterns and wall treatments come together to form a holistic system with exceptional communication design details."
"This solution feels fresh, lively and sophisticated without overwhelming the space. It's a great example of how a limited number of components—patterns and typography in only white and black—can successfully create a sense of place."
"Rarely, we see large scale graphic patterns in an office environment that not only relate to the business, here through patterns referring to agriculture by means of abstracts of cartography and land mapping but also are distilled and refined to perfection and integrated with the wayfinding system. There is nothing to add or take away from this program—it just sits right."
Paul Tabouré (executive creative director), Charlie Bromley (head of environments, design lead), Scott McNamara (designer), Christina Maricic (designer), Danielle Senecky (project manager)
Vert Design (industrial design), Geyer Sydney (architect)
Wizardry Imaging & Signs