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FORMS Magazine: Hey Ernst & Young

‘People who demonstrate integrity, respect and teaming; people with energy, enthusiasm, and the courage to lead; and, people who build relationships based on doing the light thing’ – if you think this is a lot to expect from a person at his/her workplace, think again. This value statement of Ernst & Young, one of the largest professional services globally, is what every employee at the organisation swears by.

Magical Touch

So, when Ernst & Young approached the young creative team at Lopez Design, a New Delhi-based brand identity consultancy, to make their Connaught Place office exciting and motivational, their take was rather unconventional. Far from a regular renovation (read adding colour to the walls, changing the upholstery and redoing the floor), Lopez Design realised the need for breathers and inspiration in an environment that is as challenging as it is competitive. What they zeroed in on was an idea to engage, inspire and relax the viewer, each time he/she looked.

After several hours of scribbling, doodling, arguing and ‘brain storming’, Lopez Design came up with a design concept based on a word no one would conventionally associate with strict corporate culture – HEY! This straightforward word, an offshoot of the abbreviation of Ernst and Young (EY), was positioned as an idea that would surprise the viewer and encourage out-of-the-box thinking each time an employee stared at otherwise dull and void walls.

Little Secrets of Good Design

After freezing the concept, Lopez Design settled on four everyday aspects built around four achievers – Aryabhatta, the mathematician, Saraswati, the goddess of music, Dhyanchand, the hockey player and Matthew Boulton, inventor of the steam engine – building points of reference around each of these personalities. For example, the main music graphic has Goddess Saraswati as the protagonist, holding a copy of the book Godel, Escher; Bach, as she presides over characters as diverse as local superstars (IIayaraja and RD Burman) and fictional favourites (Cacofonix and Bianca Castafiore). Nearby, Bob Dylan and Joan Baez discuss the notes of a song, as Pied Piper quietly goes about his business a few metres (and songs) away.

Each main graphic is supported by three panels. The panels under the ‘Go Play’ theme have Peanuts and Tori Amos talking about Charlie Brown’s baseball disaster on the first pillar; the theme of betting on the second pillar, with actors Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra and the famous flipping coin from the 70s cult film Sholay portraying the same theme. Also featured are anecdotes about James Bond, the inveterate gambler, and Cleopatra’s trickery in winning a bet against her lover Marc Antony. Finally there is Alice recounting her adventures in Wonderland of the game of lawn croquet where the mallets are flamingoes. The panels and graphics only keep getting more curious. 

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The Verdict

These artworks are installed on vinyl and sparkle film. Handmade illustrations make the graphics appear like scrawls on the surfaces. In totality, the graphic art is a trip through time and space, global and local references, with stopovers in film, literature, economy and history. With the promise of a new twist to everything, these graphics are as much a journey down memory lane as they are about encouraging unconventional thinking.

Confusing, intriguing and rather amusing, the project has been a success within Ernst & Young. Visitors are often seen staring at the walls and the employees discussing and trying to find missing links, thereby promoting a new perspective, a new story. In rare case, where the viewer is the unquestioning ‘busy’ variety, the intelligently made artworks are pleasing enough  to pass off as good graphics. These graphics are a personal favorite of CEO, and have been replicated in their Gurgoan office as well.

This innovation in office graphics, also called environment graphics, finally gives a conclusion to the age old controversy of form vs. utility. It elaborates how by applying creativity to design, one can add immense function (value) to any work of art.

ABOUT THE STUDIO

Lopez Design is a brand consultancy that provides a wide variety of visual design services, covering identity programmes, environment and exhibition graphics, print design, interactive design, packaging design, and product graphics. Their clients include PricewaterhouseCoopers, Headstrong, UNICEF, Sify, TI Cycles and Subhiksha.

FORMS the design magazine - Volume II - Issue VIII
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