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Happen: The Creative Consultants – Faye Ellen + Siobhan Burger, part of the Venture Café Rotterdam Community

Feye Ellen + Siobhan Burger Rotterdam

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Andreas Stillman
by Andreas Stillman in News
November 9, 2018 0 comments

Faye Ellen and Siobhan Burger create delightful, meaningful bridges between art and business.

IMAGINE THE LOBBY of a typical corporate space. Beige walls. Uncomfortable seating. Bad lighting. Nothing that shows what the company values. Nothing that says “you’re welcome here.” Nothing that brings joy.

But what if it doesn’t have to be this way?

Arttenders is on a mission to change how corporations and brands think about their spaces. Founded by artists Faye Ellen and Siobhan Burger, Arttenders designs environments that delight visitors and employees alike while showcasing what a business stands for. Creating and commissioning a variety of art ranging from sculpture to painting to interior design to interactive experiences, Arttenders aims for developing custom solutions that get people talking.

“The inquiries vary from office design that connects the brand identity with the working environment to large-scale public interventions in urban development or corporate clients that are looking to express their brand identity in a very different way than usual,” Ellen says. “If you want something that’s specifically about your DNA, something made for you and it’s unique and contributes to the experience, that’s what we do.”

“I think even though art is the outcome, we always start looking at corporate issues from a design-thinking approach. So we already try to connect all of the different fields from the get-go,” Ellen continues. “And that is something that in development and spaces and user outlines is oftentimes forgotten or thought about at the end. This makes our interventions almost always an integral solution to different issues.”

Arttenders’ work goes well beyond what is typically thought of as “art.” The team collaborates with technicians, developers, programmers and many other specialists to create some of the most innovative environments in the world. Recently, real estate developer Kroonenberg Groep commissioned Arttenders to enhance the space in the Kalverpassage in Amsterdam, which had been transformed into a shopping area. Arttenders worked with graphic artists and software developers to create an engaging LED ceiling that’s a true work of art.

Kalverpassage, an Arttenders project in Amsterdam

“The purpose was to seduce passersby to enter the retail environment and to add an extra-exclusive layer, to make it a high-end experience. We could expand the technical possibilities of the canvas, as you might call it, and create this very intense user experience,” Ellen says. “Our technical team and the art itself came together for something that our client would have never imagined.”

Arttenders also designed spaces in and around CIC Rotterdam. As an environment that provides coworking, event and office spaces to Rotterdam’s innovation community, CIC Rotterdam was the perfect partner for Arttenders.

“CIC in Rotterdam actually challenged the design team and the architects to add this playful layer to their interior design that also was very functional. For example, we did sign interventions instead of having arrows point to how to get to the space and there are big artworks there that relate to the startup environment,” Ellen says. “So it not only serves the goal to a wayfinding signage intervention, but it also tells a little bit more about the CIC brand and its community.”

“Even though art is the outcome, we always start looking at corporate issues from a design-thinking approach.”

Serving as art directors, Arttenders team members bring in renowned, high-end creatives and agencies to help produce eye-catching installations — especially when those artists have niche specialties that lend themselves well to specific ideas.

“The artists that we work with, they can think outside of the box,” Ellen says. “So if our knowledge is limited for a specific part of the project, we know that they will be able to surprise us and to make sure that the client is wowed on all levels.”

“We have to be very agile because the types of projects are so different. Today, I might need an architect and a technical drawer and someone who can calculate stuff for us. Tomorrow we’ll be working on an app, and then the day after we’ll be doing a video clip for a song,” Burger adds. “A lot of people in our network are experts in their fields. This is who we really want to work with — with people who are experts at what they’re doing and make a cool team.”

CIC Rotterdam as designed by Arttenders

Music also plays a role in many Arttenders projects. Studio Lernert & Sander partnered with Arttenders for a national advertising campaign that celebrated 40 years of glass recycling in the Netherlands, developing a campaign strategy that included outdoor signage, in-person experiences, digital items and wearables. But one of the most memorable aspects of the endeavor was when Arttenders commissioned renowned Dutch hip-hop group De Jeugd van Tegenwoordig for a catchy hit single celebrating the milestone.

“Our glass recycling system was implemented 40 years ago, and our client wanted to highlight that in a positive way. But it’s very difficult to shape an advertising campaign on something that you socially should do and emphasize the things that we are already doing well,” Ellen says. “The highlight of the campaign was that a local rap group launched a song that was an homage to the glass recycling bin. A video clip was directed by the artists and was launched as an autonomous song instead of an advertising campaign. Because we did it in this way, the media outreach was a lot larger than they had imagined.”

Who knew that a tune about glass recycling would become a bona fide hit? Within two weeks of its release, the video for the single “Glasbak” was viewed more than 200,000 times on YouTube and earned more than 130,000 plays on Spotify.

“You have to be a gutsy client if you want to work with us.

Ellen and Burger appreciate clients who are willing to take chances on the original creations that the Arttenders team might dream up.

“You have to be a gutsy client if you want to work with us because normally clients want to see what they’re going to get. And that’s the picture we can’t show,” Ellen says. “We can reference projects we’ve worked on and we can show that they had a lot of effects on the space, on the brand, on the experience, but we’re never doing things twice. Everybody needs something that fits their own identity.”



CIC Rotterdam as designed by Arttenders

CIC Rotterdam as designed by Arttenders


Highlight from Venture Café Global Institute’s Magazine: Happen

As Venture Café has grown from Cambridge to St. Louis, Miami and Rotterdam, a new parent organization has been formed to overview the expansion of the mission worldwide.

The Venture Café Global Institute develops the magazine Happen that highlights the amazing community from around the world. Come to any Venture Café location to pick up a copy, or read it online here!

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