Innovative firms around the globe are testing the boundaries of conventional office design, using progressive, lighthearted working environments to inspire employees. For instance, striking artwork adorns the walls of Adobe’s Utah campus, Nokia’s California base boasts readily available arcade game and gaming console spaces, and personnel can recline in the lounge area of Tumblr’s New York City site. Yet that wasn’t the situation at San Francisco-based creative Ben Brucker’s office, where – despite working for a digital design company – he and his colleagues labored amid dreary surroundings for two years.
Finally fed up with this dull setting, Brucker decided that enough was enough. So, he brainstormed concepts with his creative director, who proposed superheroes. Inspired, Brucker researched pixel art and, with the help of his colleagues, put together a series of superhero murals made out of 8,024 Post-it notes. The result? Spectacular.
Writing on imgur, Brucker explained that he wanted to turn the “sterile and boring” office space into something “colorful, playful and inspiring.” And when his boss put forward the idea of superheroes, Brucker knew they’d found the solution.
“Superheroes are strong and inspiring figures. They are iconic and recognizable. Plus, we could design them ourselves,” explained Brucker, who seems pretty pleased with how his creations turned out.
There was one catch, however. With the company poised to move to new premises within half a year, any makeover would need to be temporary. Brucker wasn’t permitted to modify the walls whatsoever, so that the office could easily be returned to its original state.
During the preparation stage, Brucker mapped out a pixel grid in Adobe Illustrator and created prototype murals in Photoshop, which encouraged him to press forward. The mockups also helped to determine how many Post-its would be needed to complete the artwork and how best to spend the roughly $300 budget.
Brucker admitted that working out how many Post-its of each color he required “was kind of a pain,” while gauging the quantity of packs of different colors needed was “even more of a pain.” Once he’d nailed it, though, Brucker turned to Amazon and a nearby Office Depot and bought roughly 9,000 notes.
The final superhero selection represented a cadre of some of the comic book world’s best-loved characters. From DC Comics came Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman, while Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man and the Scarlet Witch are of course all Marvel creations.
Several of these heroes will obviously be hitting the big screen in 2015. For instance, American actress Elizabeth Olsen is playing the Scarlet Witch in Joss Whedon’s blockbuster sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron, which will also feature Iron Man and Captain America.
Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, meanwhile, are all poised to hit theaters in 2016 in superhero mash-up Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. And Spider-Man is currently due to return to the big screen in 2018.
Still, when deciding which heroes to include, Brucker’s main concern was not upcoming cinema releases but instead each character’s “recognizability and colors.” Needless to say, though, some heroes were more difficult to design than others.
Brucker explained on Reddit that Batman was one of the most problematic to conceive. In fact, the character’s bat emblem and trademark utility belt resulted in it needing an extra pixel in height compared to its superhero companions.
Iron Man’s metallic suit and Spider-Man’s cleverly envisioned limbs were also tricky to design, but each hero “needed something special, and each had a problem to solve.” Brucker did, however, have a blast creating each and every one.
Once the characters’ designs had been finalized, the next step was to literally stick them on the wall. Thankfully, Brucker didn’t work alone, as his colleagues agreed to sacrifice their own time to get involved.
Brucker outlined the process on imgur, saying, “First thing we did was line the top row of every character panel. Then we used those to measure two-foot (eight Post-its) vertical grids spanning the whole wall.”
The team was initially intimidated by the size of the space, so they sectioned off individual grids in which to place each superhero. This meant that Brucker and his peers simply had to attach the notes, and while it took a long time, they got there in the end.
With the team putting in a day over the weekend, the Post-it murals took seven-and-a-half hours to complete. And the transformative effect of the project was stunning. “We used ‘super sticky’ Post-its, and they’re holding up pretty well,” explained Brucker.
Naturally, Brucker was grateful to all of the volunteers and had a great time watching his designs come to life. He added, “We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback, and people from all over the building have been coming to check it out.”
The resulting artworks are striking and playful – ephemeral testaments to the appeal of color, charisma and originality in the workplace. However, not everyone was impressed, with some online detractors having little positive to say about the transformation.
But Brucker had a simple response for these critics. He said, “This is a creative agency. This is the kind of thing we are supposed to have on our walls, and the kind of thing that we enjoy. It feels good to walk into work knowing that it can be fun, and not too serious when it doesn’t need to be.”
Plus, with almost a thousand Post-its remaining untouched in the office, perhaps Brucker and the rest of his colleagues can get a head start with decorating their new workspace when the time finally comes to move. And hopefully he’ll once more record it for the world to see.