Chapels & Branded Spaces: Creating Places for a Lasting Connection

Some innovative brands are building spaces for their audience, where people can just think, read, talk, and even work. 

Apple stores for example are places to hang out, but for short while, since they don’t offer chairs.

Creating spaces for reflection have always interested artists.

There is the Sistine Chapel (Michelangelo) where inspiration can touch a believer’s soul. A more recent chapel is Mark Rothko’s in Houston, Texas – “a holy place open to all religions and belonging to none” (source).

Mark Rothko chapel, Houston, Texas

Rothko was a Jew, and was very much interested in spirituality and Jewish mysticism.

Henri Matisse, who once said art should be as comfortable as an armchair, created a chapel in Vence on the French Riviera (feature image above, and below):

The Matisse Chapel, Vence

“What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity, devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter, an art which could be for every mental worker, for the businessman as well as the man of letters, for example, a soothing, calming influence on the mind, something like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue.” Henri Matisse

Claude Monet created the Vestibules – two oval rooms at the the Musée de l’Orangerie (image featured at the top of this post), exhibiting his huge Water Lilies murals.

These rooms offer a true refuge in the middle of busy Paris.

Find more inspiring chapels designed by artists on Artsy.

Much needed refuge for tired feet

Some museums make a point of offering creative seating options for people to reflect among the artworks.

museum benches inspiration.png
Click for more bench inspiration


Shared Spaces

The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) invites creative entrepreneurs to work inside the museum – it opened its own co-working space in 2016.

In 2016 MINI and Jaguar Land Rover launched creative spaces, in Brooklyn and in London. Both spaces are independent design-led startup hubs.

Image credit: Dezeen

Some companies understand that their exhibition booths should have a quiet place to reflect – the brand messages , relevance to their own business, and life in general.

“Wanna hang out at my place?”

The innovative email marketing company Mailchimp built a truly unique conference exhibition booth at IRCE. Instead of hiring a trade show booth designer, they chose two film production designers – such a good idea!

The design brief was:  “subway urban newsstand pop-up bodega.” Thankfully, they share their amazingly cool mood board with us.

“We didn’t rely on loud colors or gimmicks to state our presence. Instead, the design felt welcoming.” John @ Mailchimp

mailchimp booth.jpg
Image Credit & Booth Designer Anthony Lavadera

Brands have always been setting up places: conferences, exhibitions, booths, company office lobbies, visitor centers, brand museums.

You can categorize it as a place to “hang out” – a place for being rather than doing.

Which means a place to just be, and maybe have coffee, maybe talk to someone, or write something. Inevitably, by just being for a little while, people can get inspired into doing. Perhaps a post on your Facebook page? A blog post about your brand? Their idea for a big American novel that somehow refers to your brand as a cultural phenomena?

Because the audience’s life in general is the only thing that can give context for brands.

Brand context is the unique world of opportunity that a brand presents to customers. It’s the real deal of possibilities that the brand incarnates, and enables, across all human dimensions: creative, social, personal, emotional, spiritual and moral. A brand’s context is only as “relevant” as the customer opportunities it creates. Brian Phipps, The New Brand Glossary

The Christian Church understood this two millennia ago. This explains some of its grand success in attracting followers.

Because brands are merely ideas, or rather what people think of products and companies; the public’s perception, and the public following.

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, c. 537 AD
The Sistine Chapel Frescoes, Michelangelo, 1482, Vatican Museum


Pope Julius II (reigned 1503–1513) commissioned The Sistine chapel from Michaelangelo, in order to fortify the brand of his uncle Pope Sixtus IV (reigned 1414-1484).

Which is why the chapel is named – The Sistine.

This branding project turned out to be an enormous success…

prague mosaic

In Prague, on the wall of St. Wencelas Cathedral, there is a depiction of Charles IV and his wife Elizabeth of Pomerania, created in mosaic, appear beneath saints, angles, and Jesus.

Chapels Patronage for Family Brand Prestige

During the Renaissance, it was very common for rulers like the Medici family to decorate chapels and altars in Cathedrals – as a status symbol.

Unlike now, when only the rich person’s name appears on the front of the building, the  Renaissance rich person’s actual portrait was painted on the wall inside the cathedrals.

Sometimes instead of their portraits, the family emblem (=logo) appeared.

They had to pay for ALL the expanses of this chapel – they paid the builders, the artists, carpenters, and the hosting church.

So next time you travel in Europe and visit old European cathedrals, consider for a moment the chapel’s decoration as branded content, or long-term brand spaces.


Useful article:

How To Design “Branded” Environments That Don’t Make People Gag according to designers from Brand Union, Local Projects, and more | Fast Company

Got something to say about this post? Questions? Corrections? I’m listening

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