The relocation of our Brisbane studio allowed us to consider how we want to represent our personality through interior design and experiential graphics. We wanted to ensure the new space complemented our other studios but also reflect how i2C has evolved since completing our last fit-out in Melbourne six years ago.
The Interior Design team worked with the existing conditions making simple but impactful changes. The interior was uplifted by adding vibrancy through colour and graphics, building openings to bring more connectivity and natural light, and creating a space in the centre of the office that could be used to meet, collaborate, and entertain. The design leaned on some of the key principles of playfulness, effortless charm and easy-going character seen in the other studios, with a touch of refinement.
From a planning perspective, we saw a huge opportunity to open some walls in the middle of the studio and create a central bar in the heart of the space. This allowed natural light to filter further into the kitchen as well as enabling client functions and fostering better team connection. We also added a central run of hot desks with sit/ stand functionality for out of state visitors and to give the local team an opportunity to use them as needed.
It was important to us for guests visiting i2C to have a similar arrival experience in all our studios across Australia. For subtle nods to our industrial warehouse re-fit studios in Melbourne and Sydney, reclaimed timber battens were installed at reception to provide screening as well providing the perfect place to mount our travelling ‘Unity’ artwork, co-designed with proud Awabakal man Matt Fellingham. The remainder of the studio played off the existing black slatted ceiling and mullions to balance the themes of a polished, professional, and modern workplace with a playful, fun and dynamic culture.
With the existing office having a very monochromatic, corporate palette of black, white and grey, injecting colour and life into the space was a core element of the design. Working with the warm tones of the existing timber flooring, a bright and vibrant coral was selected as the primary colour. To balance and contrast the warmth, a cooler, complementary blue was added to level out the palette. These colours can be seen throughout the design in bold statements and using them as a foundation our Branded Environments team created a number of mural graphics to weave in community and reconciliation, along with a few quirky characters to represent the local ecology on which the studio resides – the water rat and bin chicken were team favs!
Leveraging views of lush treetop canopies out the first storey windows, planting was brought into the space to create a stronger connection to the natural environment. Selecting sustainably conscious carpets from Shaw Contract upholstery from Instyle’s Feel Collection and workstation screens from Carbon Neutral Autex Cube throughout the fit-out supports our company values, commitments to carbon neutrality and regenerative design.
Co-created with Bernice Hookey, a proud Waanyi and Muruwari woman, and our Interior Design team, the murals explore multiple aspects of culture and life through both pre and post-colonialism lenses. Working closely to ensure colour palette, materiality and graphic outcomes blended seamlessly with the design of the interior, while also providing culturally safe and inclusive narratives allowed many opportunities to improve the design as we worked through the co-creation process.
Situated on Turrbal/Yuggera Country, in current day South Brisbane, the studio is placed within walking distance to Maiwar, the Brisbane River. Known as a significant source of food, and a shared gathering place for First Nation people, the South Brisbane area is these days known as an arts and culture centre. The experiential mural graphics, designed by the Branded Environments team, displayed across the studio are a love letter to reconciliation and community – while carving out space for Indigenous voices to flourish.
Weaved in Community
Upon entry to the studio, the mural engages and invites visitors to explore the place through cultural icons and symbols that build upon the fabric of the local and regional community of South Brisbane. It is i2C placing itself within and celebrating the existing ecosystem of the region, all tied together through the backbone of Meanjin, Brisbane; Maiwar, the Brisbane River.
Designed to be explored with curious eyes; icons and symbols representing local plants and animals, architecture, and cultural influences blend both Indigenous and colonial knowledge to reflect the characteristics that influence and form the modern day. It’s a journey through the many layers of Meanjin, Brisbane, both retrospective and future focused.
Key elements of this mural include:
Powerful Care for the Future
Starting at the top left of the graphic we see an image of Bernice Hookey, changemaker and generational healing leader. Bernice holds an incredibly important and healing presence within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Her work gives young Aboriginal women a voice and empowers them to achieve incredible outcomes for themselves and their communities.
The Fire Dancers and the Ballerina
The twirling ballerina is Phyllis May Danaher the founder of the Ballet Theatre Queensland and an influential member of the Brisbane dancing community. Reflecting the colonial interpretation of culture and dance, the ballerina is a symbol of elegant storytelling. Similarly, we see Aboriginal fire dancers encapsulating narrative through beautiful movement, storytelling, song and dance. Together, these two represent the power of storytelling and continuing cultural narratives.
Source of Life
The Maiwar, Brisbane River, has historically been a significant source of spirituality and life to the Aboriginal nations who lived in the area. In today’s version of Brisbane, the river forms a key backbone to the city as it meanders West to East towards Moreton Bay.
Language and Culture
Peppered throughout the artwork we see Aboriginal and English words, each with shared and key meanings. From language identifying the many connections with plants and animals, key environmental forms, nations, and modern-day conventional place names across Meanjin, Brisbane.
Chattering Ibis in the Mangroves
The Bin Chicken, Trash Turkey or Australian White Ibis, revered for centuries by cultures all around the world, takes pride of place in our booth space. The humble Ibis, brilliant in its natural habitat, has in recent times become a symbol of the impact humans have on urban places. In their wild habitats, the Ibis takes courtship seriously with the gift of a stick securing a pair and courtship match. This tiny offering breeds new life, a new generation.
Gather at the River Mouth
With reference to a future that could have been, we see tools and technologies used by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people featured throughout this artwork. This exploration of what the future could have been, had life happened another way, is set against a distant metropolis background, creating juxtaposition. Traditionally a source of life and gathering, the river mouth joins the sea through ever expanding currents, adapting, changing, and charging on, much the way a civilisation does. The fringing mangroves filter life in and out through tidal movements, cleaning away murk to preserve and support whole ecosystems – a movement we could learn from.
Greetings from here
Taking inspiration from vintage postcards and street art, we see this bold, dynamic artwork come to life. Backgrounded by the city and the river, South Brissy becomes a window into the studio’s place. Using relaxed and welcoming language, we set the tone for the studio while also acknowledging the land we are on. Much like stickering in street art culture, the Meanjin sticker slapped over the top of the colonial naming of Brisbane, we see a reclamation of names. Set boldly above, the local Aboriginal language for Brisbane sits proudly for all to see.
The overall outcome of the graphic murals is a fusion of culture, design, and a general feeling of comfort. Allowing the co-creation process to inform the graphic design has ensured a welcoming, place-based approach leading to a much stronger outcome. The vibrancy of the colours and narrative brings a smile to the face and starts a conversation with reconciliation at the core.
Builders: Echo Projects
Graphic Production and Installation: Habitat Creative Co
Location: Turrbal/Yuggera Country | South Brisbane, QLD