Many moons ago I would stroll from my Granny's house, up the Ormeau road, over the Ormeau Bridge and up Park Road to my primary school - then back the same way when school was over. In fact, I would walk up and down the Ormeau Road several times a day for over a decade during my time at both primary, and secondary school.
Along this journey two buildings always caught my eye, the first being the Ormeau Bakery - I can still smell the bread wafting from the side door on Ava Avenue. The second building was Maxol House. Maxol House was an imposing structure wedged at the corner of Delhi Street and the Ormeau Road, and it stood out because I could see the stairwell through the side windows - I would often see workers trundling up and down the concrete stairs as they went about their business. Then, there was the large blue and yellow 'Maxol' sign, which I remember thinking looked very cool – perhaps an early indication I would end up working in branding.
In short, the Ormeau Road is where I have grown up and where I feel I belong. When Gavin Annon – Head of Commercial and Marketing for Mount Charles – asked to meet with me to discuss a 'large' project on the Ormeau Road, my ears pricked up.
Gavin was tasked with project managing the rejuvenation of Maxol House, to create a new home for Mount Charles, and it's team members. The building was an unloved shell, which had been sitting empty for several years – in need of fresh ideas and a lot of TLC. Gavin walked me around it, and asked me to take some time to think about how I could help create an inviting, and innovative, business headquarters for Mount Charles. His vision was clear; the building would be open plan, hi-tech and modern.
Over the next 10 months - along with project architect Colin Chestnutt - we worked on creating graphics to compliment Colin's 'grand' design. The main areas that needed attention were the mass of exposed white walls. After numerous iterations Stylografik proposed a five stripe super-graphic system. Each stripe would represent a division of the business and the colours chosen would be the division brand colours. The stripes appear, then disappear, from office walls, meeting room windows and along corridors. The idea was to suggest the cohesiveness of both the company and the building. Not only that, the bold colour system ignites the building giving it a fresh, modern friendliness.
We also created a 3 metre light box for the relaxing ground floor meeting area, and animations for the reception area screens – showcasing the companies divisions, and brands. (The semi-opaque shutters allow these animations to project through them, which helps reinforce the brand even when the building is closed.)
When time, thought and effort are allocated to design, the results can be phenomenal. Renamed Annon House, this imposing structure is now a forward thinking open plan business haven, that has created a new dynamic in the daily working relationships amongst team members. An amazing achievement from everyone involved in the project.
Seeing the work Stylografik created glow through the windows of this building is definitely a proud moment for me. Being a small part of the team that helped to make this building shine again has been a pleasure, perhaps something I was always destined to do.
Hopefully, every now and then a curious school child – who walks past the building everyday like I did – will peek through the doors, and remember how cool it looked when they get older. Perhaps even be inspired to become a designer.
Design is your visual language. Say something.