New York City’s Gilmore Group leads the way in design of out-of-home integrated architecture and media experiences.
IN A BUSY WORLD, creating branding and media experiences that inspire, compel or improve existing environments calls for designers who think differently.
Of all the elements that can be considered – and Gilmore Group, based in New York City, considers the whole range – two are emerging as major influencers, company President Arthur Gilmore says.
“For place-based, out-of-home [media] success, there needs to be convergence of architecture, brand and technology where audio and video and data are becoming more important, integrated elements,” Gilmore says.
The company has positioned itself as a worldwide leader in out-of-home media – essentially any branding or advertising outside traditional television, print, or Internet ads – as well as brand creation and design, serving an array of industries: retail, financial, transportation, healthcare and others.
Gilmore and Greg Tribbe, a partner and creative director at Gilmore Group, left high-profile marketing and communication firm Interbrand and founded the company in 2003 with a forward-thinking approach, considering how technology – especially integrative technology – was changing the way consumers live and experience brands and messaging.
They wanted to offer branding, design and media that encompassed more than one piece of an environment – consider a static billboard, for example – to designs and content that engages and attracts customers while complimenting an overall brand concept.
“We built this company specifically because we worked at a big company before,” Gilmore says. “We saw the silos and felt the silos.
“We think it’s our job as architects, interior designers, motion graphics and graphic designers, mixed with strategy and research, to keep those silos outside of our work to assure this convergence can happen in an optimized way to promote the brand.”
Like architects designing a custom home or a commercial structure, one of the first considerations, Tribbe says, is working with a site.
“We’ve seen lots of cases where the technology is correct, but the digital façade or screen is facing the opposite direction of traffic or is too high up or behind a tree or a column,” he says. “Companies will have spent upward of a half million in places like a Las Vegas store merchandising system or a million-dollar outdoor display and it’s occluded so you can’t see anything.”
Trained in the Henry Dreyfuss Associates school of thought on weighing human factors, anthropometrics and site lines, the Gilmore Group designers ensure that their work also works with the human experience.
A second element, one that can be complicated, is creating attraction. That’s where the art comes into play, Tribbe says.
“There are a lot of examples where either someone puts up digital media or screen and it’s either inappropriate or ugly or a box slapped onto a building,” he says.
“It’s not integrated and not attractive. Instead of being drawn to it, they’re kind of turned off by it.”
Gilmore Group integrates media into design, visible in the company’s work with Dubai Sports City, which integrated powerful graphic, architectural and industrial design with brand strategy, artfully, from roadside to stadium and retail interiors and exteriors.
“It’s important that the attraction be assured as part of the marriage to environment,” Tribbe says.
A third piece that can’t be skipped is content, Tribbe says.
“You don’t want to have this great idea for a very visible display, beautifully integrated with architecture and have it running meaningless content such as a news feed,” he says. “From day one, we’re showing clients not only renderings and sketches of the design, but also showing them what sort of content is going to work well. That will drive the overall impression and concept.”
The results of incorporating those perspectives are technology-integrated designs that are scalable from super structure to intimate human scale, Gilmore says. Like home or structural designers, Gilmore Group also integrates sustainability features, working to minimize power usage for displays as well as overall projects, such as using light-sensing technologies to dim at appropriate times, saving energy and creating less light pollution.
In its work for Walgreens, Gilmore Group achieved EnergyStar compliance in its integrated spectacular displays, part of a brand language and retail environment that highlighted the pharmacy, building the relationship between pharmacy and customers with architecture and graphic, industrial and interior design that promoted trust, integrity and expertise.
The company’s work for Bank of America’s flagship tower at One Bryant Park in Midtown, Manhattan, achieved LEED Silver certification.
Gilmore Group’s design work for Bank of America represents the culmination of a comprehensive environmental branding system that included signage, multimedia, interactive components, interior design and merchandising to unify the bank’s diversified branch network, which inspired Gilmore Group’s design of the bank’s most highly visible branches in locations throughout the country.
As the financial industry has transformed and customers do more task-based banking activities online, physical bank locations have become more like retail environments, showcasing offerings and, hopefully, helping to enhance a brand.
“To get people to come into the banks, you have to have relevant content,” Tribbe says. “First, you have to see the bank. Second, it has to be attractive. And, third, it has to be relevant from a content standpoint.”
Retail is changing, too, becoming more like an entertainment destination, Gilmore says.
“Everything is moving toward this bigger integration of technology,” he says. “We focus on digital media technology and how to hone it.”
Rather than just responding to a call for more environmentally responsible elements, Gilmore Group sees another opportunity to create something beautiful – a word the designers use often and a goal they seek in all their work.
“We’re not inventing the technology but putting the technology together,” Gilmore says. “We look at LED lights and say, ‘Could it work with this type of material? Can we spread a beautiful light image to speak out in a stronger way at certain times and also be able to be pulled back and managed to be a lower light level when necessary?’
“We want to be good examples.”
While the company continues to grow in the U.S. and internationally, the impetus that drove Tribbe and Gilmore to branch out remain part of the company, Tribbe says.
“That DNA of the brand – that’s we’re all about,” he says. “We are always thinking in terms of the core identity elements. It’s not just font and color.
“We’re using those with form and style that we brought together and put that in space – with light and materials and finishes – and that’s how we express what we think is the most important part of feeling the brand in the real environment,” Tribbe adds. “It is somethingthat is living and breathing.”