Your environment speaks volumes about who you are. It expresses your essence and inspires your audience. Our goal with any project, but especially our projects with Spotify, is to build that deep connection to the brand by harnessing the power of art and creativity within brand environments.
Spotify is fast becoming one of the biggest audio platforms in the world. Their culture has come from one of the hackathons, close-knit communities, and camaraderie, they are humans first, feeling and working on intuition. Our overarching brief was to capture the feeling of audio through artwork, inspired by the energy and essence of the city you were in, whilst harking back to the start-up mentality of the brand, that feeling of sawdust on the floor, whilst remaining playful, thoughtful and inspiring.
The artwork in the elevator lobbies, in the heart of their space, can help foster this culture and provide an authentic evocation of the feeling that audio gives you in all of its forms, whether that's podcasts or music. As they were growing, they wanted to bring back that feeling of rawness, that sawdust on the floor, the chaos that ignites innovation and new ideas. The challenge wasn't to just show what's outside the window, nor to showcase the history of music. It was to enable and facilitate the staff's ability to mix and divide; to think and to do; to discover and be familiar; all by creating a series of brand experiences and activations that captures the spirit and moods of the inhabitants, and the strong creative culture of Spotify people.
As a studio, it's important to us to ensure that everything we create for Spotify feels authentic both to them as a brand and to the city it would appear within. We tried to achieve that through partnering with local artists to tell the story of the location, and what audio meant to them in that context. We're passionate about investing in talent that is unique to the city, whether that be through open calls and engagement programmes with local institutions and organisations, harnessing new emerging talent, or commissioning world-renowned established artists that inspire and capture the essence of the space and place. Our New York project gave a platform to three graduate designers from the School of Visual Arts, whilst our Toronto project captured the story of First Nation inhabitants.
When it comes to bringing the Spotify brand to life, the little details are just as important as the big moments. We worked with the brand team to create a wayfinding strategy that ensured their people could easily and intuitively navigate their spaces, wherever in the world they may be. From a suite of bespoke icons which feel friendly and human to a considered use of colour, our holistic approach resulted in a unified visual language, whilst preserving the local flavour of each site.
New YorkGraphic manifestation, bespoke art and wayfindingBrad Owley
New York: Plant PerformersCelebrating the nature of audioBrad Owley
New York: Ambient ChromaBrad Owley
TorontoArt curationBrad Owley
MiamiSound CanopyBrad Owley
Spotify ParisLighting installationJoseph Savage
Spotify LondonWayfindingTP Bennet
LondonAccessible designTP Bennet
New YorkArtist: Ying WeiBrad Owley
WayfindingGlobal wayfinding strategyBrad Owley
Spotify's recent hyper-growth has generated some key cultural challenges as they expand across multiple global locations and recruit at pace. Office locations were feeling siloed and disparate, lacking local flavor as well as brand continuity. We asked: How can experiential design play a role in unifying both people and place whilst promoting creative and collaborative results across a dynamic workplace? Put simply; What makes a space intrinsically 'Spotify'?
Our approach was to distill the very essence of Spotify. We got to know their company and culture, discovering a love of audio in all forms. It's this obsession, coupled with a heartfelt celebration of New York culture, that informed our entire strategy.
Our partnership with Spotify began when we were asked to help them to define how the brand behaved in their physical environment, and deliver a series of artworks that truly reflected them as a business. Starting with 16 floors in 4 World Trade Centre, New York was no mean feat, and for a project of this magnitude, we wanted to begin with a solid grounding into how the team wanted their spaces to feel, and how we wanted people to behave within them. We got to work with a series of workshops with their core team members including Global Head of Workplace Sonya Simmonds, Global Head of Brand and Communications Rasmus Wangalin, and a stellar team of the project, facilities, and operations managers that would give us a true insight into the environments that they wanted to create for their teams. This workshop helped us to build an experience strategy that would define how their spaces functioned, whether that was encouraging participation, areas of quiet, hero pieces that were truly immersive brand moments, and pops of surprise and delight.
Our task was really to emulate what it meant to experience audio, and translate what is otherwise a digital experience into a physical environment, bringing in installations that evoke feelings of music without being so literal, its connection to us, and the emotions it triggers. The tone of the work would encapsulate the essence of creativity in all of their global locations and inherently different depending on the local cultural narrative, whilst remaining familiar to those that travel between spaces on a regular basis. We wanted to highlight the artistry of Spotify and its multifaceted business in different ways. When anyone walks into the Spotify office, we wanted them to feel like they've walked into the engine room, the feeling of momentum, of passion.
We first considered how each space should feel, how people would move through them and how we could best serve their needs. Throughout 16 storeys occupied by Spotify the world of audio is unraveled and explored, creating a seamless look and feel that's immersive and exciting at every level bringing to life Spotify's core belief: listening is everything.
Our design solution is made up of four elements: Wayfinding, Brand Experience, Artwork, and Activations each creating different environments that speak to different needs of a modern dynamic organization. This formed the structure for NYC and the foundations for a subsequent 18 properties for Spotify across their portfolio.
Through stand-out bespoke moments, we encourage the viewer to think differently, discover and innovate. By taking this human-orientated approach to space planning, we were able to create a playground for the senses which is both purposeful and practical. The tone of the artwork is creative to its core and even absurd at times - for example, 'Ambient Chroma', a piece allowing staff members to play with colour and gradients inspired by the brand palette, allowing people to curate their favourite expression of Spotify. Another piece, 'Plant Performers', generates sound and music from bio emissions.
This is about ensuring every office is a genuine reflection of local culture, as well as Spotify's brand. We created a mural series spanning across each lift lobby celebrating local New York talent. Each local artist was invited to interpret our brief to 'capture the joy of audio', resulting in a diverse collection of murals that are full of new perspectives and viewpoints. Utilising local, emerging, and graduating artists ensures 4WTC honestly and authentically reflects local culture whilst supporting grass-root talent simultaneously.
The stories behind the artwork are just as interesting as the artwork itself. We gave Spotifiers a glimpse into our world through the conception of a physical/digital quarterly magazine and digital app. Our work covered branding, creative direction, and delivery of all assets to be distributed across the global Spotify network, communicating the power of art and well-being in the workplace. We worked with Spotify to create Blank Canvas, a quarterly magazine helping Spotifiers around the world feel connected to each other and their new office spaces.
The idea of authenticity lies at the heart of Spotify, and with this brief, our task was to capture the feeling of audio through artwork, inspired by the energy and essence of the brand and make sure that Spotify employees had a workplace environment that embodied them both as people and the values that they adopt as employees.