This incredible pro-bono project was actually a work-perk – my job has an extensive community outreach initiative that supports, organizes & sponsors charity work & events that help each office’s local communities. The Open Door Shelter in Norwalk was in need of new wall art for it’s food kitchen, & my office was asked to create an uplifting, encouraging & welcoming piece.
Factors to consider included inclusion, execution & maintenance. The shelter receives a large number of visitors with hispanic & Haitian heritage, so after initial designs all featured quotes of some kind, we were asked to include Spanish & Haitian-Creole phrases. As much fun as it was to look for inspiration in elaborate, extravagant pieces, we had to keep in mind our small office of <20 would be executing the mural within a span of three days. Prep, priming & drying time – as well as artistic skills ranging from experienced muralist to inexperienced account leads – called for simply impactful images. Color was another factor to consider, as the existing molding was a dark hunter green that would be an additional obstacle to prime & paint. Instead, each of our designs worked the green into our designs and built a color palette around it.
Four of us designers spear-headed the creative planning of the mural, & presented a range of options to the shelter directors. We were met with such surprise & gratitude, it was an incredible break from the monotonous branding & passive aggressive client emails we’re used to. Knowing that the work would help inspire & uplift those in need within our community really brought joy to our days.
I drew inspiration from London artist Camille Walala – her “Tribal POP” style is really striking, colorful & brilliantly simple. Her use of color is pretty Mondrian-esque, which I figured would suit well for the space as the walls are broken into different planes with structures like windows, insets & lots of small wall space.
My design featured imagery easy to not only execute, but interpret by staff & visitors of all ages & backgrounds. It was discussed in brainstorms that a lighthouse is a universally uplifting symbol of hope, with Norwalk being home to a few historic lighthouses. I built the I featured the Norwalk coastline as well as zipcode, and a heart marker on the shape of CT to really emphasize the Norwalk community. Quotes of varying lengths & font styles were worked in amongst images of figures joining hands in celebration, plants representing sustenance & growth, & bright, geometric patterns.
My boss Mike Alcutt‘s design was ultimately chosen, with the brightest color palette & a combination of hand-painted elements with vinyl decals to ensure quality of the type. With only three days to tape, prime, paint & apply, the office pulled together for a seamless & amazing end result. The days out of the office getting down & dirty were some of the best days of the year for most of us. The shelter was overjoyed with the results, & I was definitely grateful for the chance to give back to Norwalk in a way that was creative & inspiring for everyone involved.
If you’d like to volunteer or support The Open Door Shelter, visit their website or stop by to see the mural in person!