Wanted Design has commissioned Walala to permanently reinvent the facade of a seven-storey historic building in Brooklyn’s Industry City creative hub. At 40m high, the project is her biggest New York commission and her tallest building to date.
Currently housing a number of design studios spanning various disciplines, the Sunset Park building is an important venue for NYCxDESIGN, with a different artist invited to create work in the space for the festival each year. Having heard Camille’s keynote at the IDS festival in Vancouver in 2017, the WantedDesign team decided that she would be the perfect artist to transform the building’s somewhat neglected fascia into a vibrant and decorative statement that did justice to the creativity housed within. Camille has developed a striking, 3D-effect POP design that accentuates the architectural features of the building and incorporates a colour palette inspired by its setting.
“I’m thrilled to be producing a design for a 40m building – my tallest so far”.
1) In the context of your ‘industry city’ project which you made a design on the building’s facade; what is the effect of your artwork to the identity of the building? And what does this shift of identity means for the public space of the city?
This was my tallests building ever at that point – almost 40m, I believe. It was an opportunity to get back to my roots working with patterns. The design was inspired by the architecture of the building, particularly the repetition of the windows. The building was very flat and tall – there was no volume, so I wanted to create a 3D design, something almost cartoony to stand out against the horizon.
I love public art, it’s so powerful and can totally change the look and feel of a place. Too often we forget that city spaces need colour and excitement. I want to change that.
2) How do you make a place cheerful?
I was born in the south of France, and grew up around a lot of colour. I want to bring this energy to my projects. To create a really bold pattern can break out of the everyday – people will be surprised, and might begin to speak to each other about what they see. Our environments are so important, especially in cities. I really believe in the power of public art to change how we feel and interact with each other.
The mural at Industry City was inspired by the architectural details of the building, as well as its relationship to the harbour. The sunset view brings all these warm colours, like pink, yellow, red and blue – it’s a special place, I just wanted to make it more clear.
3) How do you handle the places you touch in terms of history and identity?
Industry City was an exciting project – a seven story historic building, with a repetitive pattern of windows on its facade. I always like buildings that have a lot of character. All the details provide a challenge to work with. These restrictions of what came before are much more interesting than just a perfect flat surface. When a building has had a long interesting history, I try to give it a second life through colour and pattern. The uglier the better, in my opinion.
4) Does the color and patterns you use have any meaning? How do they come about?
This was a 35 acre manufacturing hub on the Brooklyn waterfront, with lots of design studios and a key venue for the NYCxDESIGN festival who commissioned me. The site is bathed in the most beautiful colours at sunset, which has inspired my palette for the project. I approached the palette instinctively. The colours have a lot of vibrancy, but were inspired by the sunset of the harbour. There are more pastels, soft yellows and oranges.
Interview: İrem Efe