Mix It Up: Signage

Studios Architecture treated the Grey interior as if it were working for two clients: the creatives and the corporate staff. That left Paula Scher, who handled the environmental graphics, with a dilemma. “They thought we would try to unify the space with the signage program, but that seemed like it would look rather ridiculous,” says Scher, a partner at the graphic-design firm Pentagram. Instead she followed Studios’ lead: “Grey has a logo and a typeface, and whatever material was in the space became the signage.”

For the upper floors, Scher’s approach was restrained. On a recent visit, there were no graphics at all on the fourth floor, which houses the corporate offices. But taking her lead from Tor Myhren, Grey’s chief creative director, Scher treated the signs in the areas where the ad staff works like art installations. “Tor’s attitude was that the space is a gallery,” she says. So she carved the letters of Grey’s logo directly into a wall of distressed wood in the third-floor lobby and jumbled them in neon inside a rolling, 34-inch acrylic cube for the second floor.

While it may not unify them, there is one common element on all of the floors: the huge orange icons designating the bathrooms. Visually distorted at certain angles, they snap into place from the right perspective. “We did that because of the atrium,” Scher says. “There are certain spots where you stand and can see these giant figures on every floor, and it was kind of amusing to us. One of the mandates for the project was that somebody walking through should feel like it is a creative environment. Jokes were welcome.”

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