Companies are constantly looking for new ways to provide a better working environment for employees and communicate their values to customers. Murals tick both boxes, simultaneously attracting clients and pleasing office workers. Whether it is a showstopping Sol Lewitt work at Swiss Re’s Armonk headquarters or a small piece at a new gym or hospital, corporate murals are on the rise here in Westchester.
For Piero Manrique, a Mamaroneck-based artist who has painted murals for a wide array of clients, including the City Center lobby in White Plains and marketing firm BrandStar, murals are all about a company’s identity. “I think that office murals are a growing trend because companies understand the importance of creating a unique identity within the workspace, both for employees and clients,” he says. “Murals are a great way to make effective statements in a room.”
“I think that office murals are a growing trend because companies understand the importance of creating a unique identity within the workspace, both for their employees and their clients.”
—Piero Manrique, artist
Dobbs Ferry artist Lisa Samalin, who has produced murals for children’s hospitals along with more conventional corporate pieces, feels art has the unique ability to communicate an organization’s intentions. “[Murals are] about invention and caring about the people who are working there,” she says.
How can a company figure out what mural is right for its space? “It’s important to understand what impact [the mural] is meant to have and how it fits into the overall design of the space,” explains Manrique. “When the mural design works, it’s because it enhances the room and looks great by itself.” Ask Applications’ Yonkers HQ is a prime example of a successful corporate mural, as is Swiss Re’s Armonk headquarters, in which late artist Sol Lewitt’s flowing design makes for a particularly eye-catching lobby.
Lisa Samalin’s mural at Ask Applications HQ
Photo courtesy of Lisa Samalin
Similarly, Kevin Fuirst, president of insurance firm Levitt-Fuirst, knew something was missing as soon as he moved his employees into a new office in Tarrytown in 2016. “We began to believe the decor was missing color. We also realized there were four blank, white columns in the middle of the office that could represent the four pillars of our business,” notes Fuirst. “We wanted to find a local artist to help us achieve our vision, so we hired Sal Schiciano from Hastings. It was a six-month project that started with concepts, then models, followed by draft artwork, and concluded with a full presentation and reveal to our employees this fall.”
For Downstate CrossFit, a gym in Briarcliff Manor, communication was also a major motivator in contracting a mural. “We first commissioned Steve [Cox] and Jim [McIntyre] to paint a mural in Downstate CrossFit five and a half years ago, when we opened our first location,” says co-owner Chris Basso. “We were excited to get our new namesake up on the wall. CrossFitters take a lot of pride in the community they belong to, so creating that logo was just as important to us as owners as it was to our members and the community we were building.” Basso, along with fellow owners Chris Murray and Tim Murray, again turned to Cox and McIntyre when they moved into a brand-new location earlier this year.
For Samalin, as well, murals can sometimes transcend corporate messaging. “It may sound hokey, but I’m a firm believer that the energy you put into it when you’re making it — just like the energy when you cook a meal — somehow becomes part of what people can take in.”
Samalin also hopes there is a chance that art, such as murals she painted at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in Valhalla, just might help a few people in need. “My ideal is that somebody could actually feel that somebody was thinking about them,” she says. “That they might think: Somebody is aware what I am going through here, and this was done for me.” —PA