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Environmental Graphic Design Is No Flight of Fancy

A massive project for a major airline is the latest example of this wide-format PSP going all-in on experiential environments.




ENVIRONMENTAL GRAPHICS PROJECTS were nothing new for ER2 Image Group when the grand-format printing specialist created its Applied Surfaces Division in 2019. Chief marketing officer Dan Gershenson says the company had already built a reputation as a collaborator with architects, designers, and other stakeholders in expansive, multidisciplinary projects. The difference was the formal commitment. This was the future, management reasoned, and they would direct their time, energy, and financial resources accordingly.

Recent work on United Airlines’ Amenity Hub at Chicago’s Willis Tower, where the airline aims to foster a sense of connection among more than 3,500 employees working throughout the skyscraper, exemplifies the extent of ER2’s commitment. Creating environments like this is about more than transforming the look of a space. The goal is also to transform peoples’ experience of it. Working closely with global architecture and design firm Gensler, ER2 had a hand in elements such as repurposed landing gear, an aluminum-clad wall resembling a United plane, and actual interior aircraft interior panels refinished and decorated to create the appearance of a flight at dusk.

Looking ahead, ER2 expects the work of its specialized Applied Surfaces team to become even more important. “We’re living in a time that offers a rare challenge: Make employees enthusiastic about physically returning to the office and reconnecting with each other at an even higher rate than before,” says Jason Dillas, managing director of the Applied Surfaces division. “We see this as an opportunity.”

Find additional images of this project at and more examples of environmental graphics on page 46.

  • Riveting
    …not just in terms of the connection-fostering visuals throughout the space, but also the literal use of more than 6,000 rivets to form custom messaging on a curved aluminum wall at the main entrance (see image gallery below).
  • Discerning
    ER2 employed UV printing (EFI Vutek H5) for this graphic. For other aspects of the United Airlines job, the company employed dye sublimation (d.gen Teleios Grande) and latex printing (HP Latex 3600).
  • Multidisciplinary
    Environmental graphic design (EGD) requires expertise beyond printed graphics. Here, a photoshoot helped obtain a scale image to ensure a fit between the print and the jet engine.

📷 Courtesy of Connie Zhou. Design by Gensler




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