Get Inspired! Chicago Printer Cushing Brings Books to Life
With more than 100 community partners, the Chicago Literacy Alliance (CLA) is helping to meet literacy needs for people of all ages and backgrounds in Chicago’s West Loop. In May of 2015, the Literacenter launched and transformed the creative and collaborative meeting landscape.
“The Literacenter is the physical manifestation of our support for literacy services throughout the city and a physical home for literacy in Chicago,” said Heather Bronson, CLA’s communications manager. “Until we opened, our members were scattered all over Chicago, with many working from home and in coffee shops. Now they’ve been brought together for the first time at the Literacenter — an energized, upbeat environment decorated with colorful and literature-themed decor.”
As the first space dedicated to literacy in North America, the 41,000 square feet Literacenter had to do more than add color to the space. “All the designs are inspired by books, from childhood favorites through contemporary classics. Wherever possible, the visuals incorporate puns as well. As North America's first shared nonprofit workspace dedicated to literacy organizations and their work, we wanted to bring mission into every aspect of the space, from conference room doors through staircases and everything in between,” said Stacy Ratner, executive director at the CLA.
And that’s where Cushing came into the picture.
Based on a recommendation from Partners By Design, a team of award-winning architects and design consultants in Chicago, Ratner reached out to Cushing for this graphically-oriented project. According to Jon Davis, marketing manager, Cushing, CLA wanted them to handle two specific pieces: wrapping 18 doors throughout the facility and creating eye-catching stair graphics for the CLA’s main staircase. This expanded to also included wayfinding signage and a huge graphic mural.
“One of the first things we had to figure out was the staircase, where each stair is individually decorated with a very precise application. When I said 'I think we have over 40 stairs, and each will be different – will that be a problem?' Cushing said "no problem at all,” said Ratner.
The main staircase has each stair covered to look like a book spine with an outward facing, full color graphic. Book spines are sandwiched between the steps, with classics such as Heart of Darkness and The Canterbury Tales.
Do you enjoy puns? Throughout Literacenter, office and conference room doors are adorned with word play on famous book titles including The Island of Dr. MoRoom, Roomeo & Juliet, The Catcher In The Room, Roombinson Crusoe, Room With a View and WutheRoom Heights.
One door, in particular, presented an interesting challenge.
Roompelstiltskin is the an office name down on the lower level of the Literacenter. Ratner wanted this door to be gold, but the color didn’t exist. Without true gold ink to use, the Cushing production pros developed a custom gold gradient.
The columns in the main welcome area are topped with mini-shelves and rainbow books. Five Literascooters named for characters and authors (Scoot Finch, F. Scoot Fitzgerald, etc.) help people get around. Even the bathroom walls and doors are covered in magnetic letters and poetry words to enable writing everywhere.
“If you walk around the Literacenter, you’ll see Cushing everywhere. You’ll see them on the doors of our conference rooms. You’ll see them on the big wall where our mission statement is and on the wayfinding signage. And of course you’ll see them on the Spiny Staircase, which is probably my favorite feature,” said Ratner.
The 18 wrapped doors, the 50 stair risers, the murals and wayfinding signage was printed by Cushing on its HP Latex Printer 280 and Epson Sure Color S30670 and finished on its Zünd G3 L-2500. Cushing used 3M media and laminates — door graphics: 3M IJ 180C, 3M 8519 ScotchCal Luster over laminate and Luster 8519 Face Laminate; stair graphics: 3MIJ 8624; classroom mural: 3M IJ40; and wall graphic: 3M IJ 180C and 3M 8519 ScotchCal Luster over laminate — for the entire project.
“Because we're a literacy organization and love words, let us say: we are thrilled, delighted, elated, overjoyed, and tickled pink (plus 20 other colors) with the way Cushing helped bring our ideas to life,” said Ratner. “From the wonderful custom vinyl wall graphics and superb stair decals to the immaculate installation and splendid service, you've helped make our space just the way we dreamed it would be.”
As part of the program, the CLA participated in a Cushing video testimonial. “We visited their site, interviewed their executive director, Stacy, on camera and created a video to showcase the work. It was a nice ‘win-win’ for Cushing and their concept,” said Davis. Additionally, Cushing included information about the installation in an email newsletter to more than 4,000 subscribers.
In addition to getting feedback from multiple customers and prospects, some potential customers have even referenced the project when requesting quotes through the Cushing website (specifically the vinyl stair graphics.)
“This project has led to at least one other large format graphic installation with a company called: Wyzant Tutoring,” said Davis. “One of the features they requested was stair graphics!”
Denise Gustavson is the Editorial Director and Special Projects Editor for the Printing & Packaging Group, which includes Printing Impressions, packagePRINTING, In-plant Graphics and Wide-Format Impressions magazines, among other brands. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of Wide-Format Impressions.