Brand ingredients: paint, pegs, and ping pong balls

When one of the largest traders of U.S. equities in the world, KCG, decided to consolidate its New York City headquarters into a new, modern facility in Battery Park City, it made sure that the spirit of its brand identity was reflected in every decision it made — from the generous modern amenities to the inspiring interior architecture. Central to that effort was Thinkso’s commission to create a corporate art project that celebrates the firm’s culture, creativity, and distinct point of view.

“The work is more than just highly creative and beautiful. It gives physical dimension to our brand values and attributes through a unique visual depiction of KCG’s role in the equity markets.” Sophie Sohn, Chief Marketing Officer, KCG

At the far end of the main trading floor, we installed a singular image that appropriately welcomes all to the headquarters, representing opportunity, strength, and firm leadership. The image is that of the Statue of Liberty’s torch—reproduced at actual size. However, the way it’s rendered is more innovative and impactful than the image itself: the entire image is made of ping pong balls. We converted a photograph to pixels corresponding to the size and proportion of a ball, then batch dyed the 18,900 that the image required. Balls were then applied in “paint-by-number” fashion to routed panels. In addition to being a creative means for rendering the image, the ping pong reference is one that all employees are sure to get. The firm is big on games and has game rooms in all of their 12 global offices. And of course, their game of choice is ping pong.

In the reception lobby, clients and other visitors are greeted by a swirling, organic graphic that spills across a 27-foot section of wall, then wraps and continues around a corner. To the casual viewer it might just look like conceptual art of some sort, but upon closer inspection, additional layers of information emerge. The swirling graphic is, in fact, a magnified view of just one-tenth of a second of trading activity, with timestamps and callouts that narrate the story across its entire length. Along the 70+ feet of wall space, thousands of individual threads depict distinct market movements that occur in microseconds. The installation vividly illustrates the incredible amount of activity that the firm must be adept in analyzing and understanding in order to keep their competitive edge.

To enhance a large training corridor on the office’s uppermost floor, we repurposed illustrations and messages that we had created for the firm’s brand vision book—an employee-focused overview of their brand values. We converted halftoned illustrations and photographs into floor-to-ceiling dimensional murals, using 10,246 painted wooden dowels of various lengths and diameters. To provide context, the murals are accompanied by a series of posters featuring the original illustrations and messaging. This not only creates an intriguing mix of texture and color, but also elevates the firm’s dedication to brand education to the same level as professional development.