Surf to sand — the story behind Total Synergy's office mural
March 12th, 2018
This is the story of how the Total Synergy mural came to be. Imagined and created by our graphic designer Ross King – aka @thatdesigner – this is his blog about the opportunity to leave a mark, the inspiration, and process. The mural is a unique and personal visual for our company’s HQ in Sydney. One more thing that helps define the Total Synergy culture – a real thing that grows with unique personal contributions for the team.
Here’s Ross’s story…
The new office
The idea for an office mural started around April 2015 when we were looking for a new office space in Sydney, Australia. I’m the designer at Total Synergy and I’ve always had a keen interest in architecture and interior design since studying various related modules at university. I was invited to provide some creative input into the new office selection and design process.
Our hunt for a new office took us through many empty spaces in North Sydney, Sydney CBD, and Pyrmont, eventually settling on a newly renovated open plan, ‘blank canvas’ in the heart of North Sydney. Situated on the 15th floor on the corner of Walker and Miller streets, it has direct views out to the stunning Sydney Harbour – we can see Sydney Harbour Bridge and the city to the southeast, Neutral Bay and Kirribilli to the east, and on three sides, the streets and buildings of North Sydney.
During the selection process I mentioned to Scott that I’d love to have a mural in our new space. Originally, I’d thought to get a street artist in to create something – I’ve always been a big fan of Sydney street artist Beastman for his simple graphical style. The more we looked around, the more I got to thinking about what we could do in our new space. I wanted something that would portray our brand and be unique to us and eventually offered to do it myself. I had previously only ever painted a mural for my son’s bedroom on a much smaller scale but was really keen to add a personal touch to our office.
I worked closely with Scott to design the office layout and the look and feel of the space – we wanted an open plan office area but with plenty of breakout areas, a few different meeting room options and a dedicated social area. The space we chose felt great, an empty shell to make our own – a blank canvas. We had a clear idea of what we wanted and worked with our architects, Mackenzie Pronk, and builders, RBG, to make the most of the space.
Once we had finalised the plans and the walls went up, it was clear what space was prime for a mural. This was in the entranceway into the office. As you opened the full height glass door into a newly created walkway, there was a huge expanse of wall around seven metres long and almost three metres high. It was a perfect spot for a high impact graphic that could encapsulate our company culture and brand.
The wall runs almost exactly east to west, which provided the initial inspiration for the overall design of the mural. The idea was to create our company’s corporate logo – illustrated with the three rings in our brand colours – with a fun and uniquely Australian take.
This was the initial concept that I showed to Scott – the idea was that to the east (left of the wall) is the ocean and Sydney’s northern beaches, the middle is the bush and the blue mountains with its gorgeous waterfalls just west of Sydney (where the sun sets for us), and further west is the outback with its orange sand.The vision I had in my head for the grey areas around the outside of the design was to have patterns and colours relating to the sea, bush and outback to add visual interest to an otherwise blank background.
Once I started drawing the shapes and patterns on the wall, the design inevitably evolved. The middles of the circles became reversed-out patterns and shapes. The outside became brightly coloured sky and themed colours. With the design drawn up, I mixed the paint – in brand colours – at the local hardware store and set about getting paint on the wall.
Overall, the process took a bit longer than planned… Much of the painting was done on weekends and at quiet times in the office and the whole project was finished a year after we moved into the new office.
The finished mural
In the final mural, the left side extended to include the wall where I added a whale breaching out of the water, the jellyfish and several clown fish (aka Nemo – he was found in Sydney Harbour, after all!). The centre of the circle on the left side shows the water drops from the ocean and coastal rain – it rains more on the coast than it does where we collect water for Sydney.
The middle section shows the sun setting over the bush with the lush green forests of the Blue Mountains with the waterfalls cascading through.
The right side has aboriginal symbols in the centre of the circle depicting the outback. There’s even a reference to Uluru, one of Australia’s most recognisable natural landmarks to the far right.
We are all really happy with the finished piece – it’s a powerful impact when exiting the lift (elevator for American audiences) and the experience builds as you approach the door to be fully revealed once you enter the office.
We often have guests ask about the story behind the colours and elements – and it’s amazing which different elements resonate with different people – so here it is.