Bader Rutter, a Milwaukee-headquartered advertising agency, spent more than 30 years in the suburbs before relocating to a dynamic industrial office along downtown Milwaukee’s Riverwalk and famous Water Street. The new headquarters were designed to represent the rapidly growing agency’s modernized brand and business direction while paying homage to the industrial history of their new neighborhood.
Forcade was hired to strike this balance between historical and modern in the building’s signage and wayfinding and environmental graphics.
The office is actually two buildings combined into one. A nearly 100-year-old structure was joined together with a large new addition. This highly interesting mix of old and new was the inspiration for the corporate interior signage and wayfinding graphics we created. We merged vintage milk glass and oxidized steel with modern typography and iconography to clearly and attractively identify the various spaces throughout the office.
Within the industrial steel workspace nameplates were printable photographs of each employee’s choosing. This brought a comforting, personal feel to the rawness of the surrounding architecture. Simple vinyl letters were used for the large glassed-in conference rooms, providing modern-feeling, easy identification without overshadowing the adjacent industrial materials of the building.
As an advertising agency, Bader Rutter is all about making memorable statements for its clients. So we sought to make a bold corporate interior statement for the agency as well. As you enter the office, the first thing you see is an enormous wire pendant logo that hangs in the open two-floor lobby. It’s industrial in nature to connect perfectly to the raw materials within the space, but highly modern in design to stand out and become an instant conversation starter.
We also designed the exterior building branding with the same philosophy. Logos constructed of simple dimensional steel fit perfectly with the turn-of-the-century adjacent architecture but are subtly backlit to bring a contemporary hint to the work that goes on inside the building.
Bader Rutter is charged with building some of the country’s largest brands. So in helping them make a branded statement for themselves, we knew traditional branding graphics and signage weren’t enough. Instead, we combined the modernity of what they do with the history of where they’re now located to create a one-of-a-kind, energetic space for their employees and clients alike.
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