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A Grand Representation

Big Image Systems Brings Nature Indoors

By Kim Crowley

Few large format applications draw as much attention and viewers than a building wrap. Well-designed projects interrupt the public with dramatic, emotive graphics and make bold, moving statements. Brand owners use them to market products and events with huge impact.

 

Massive building wraps and interior wallcoverings require extensive planning, design, permissions, proper execution, and qualified installation teams. The façades Big Image Systems printed for Sweden’s World Expo showcase were part of a job with a three month turnaround.

 

Big Time Jobs

Big Image is no stranger to large-scale graphics projects. The company, headquartered north of Stockholm, Sweden, with additional sites in Germany and the U.S., has 24 years of experience producing large format images.

 

Big Image’s projects include printed textiles for theaters, retail, events, and exhibits. About 20 percent of its work is outdoor, while the remainder consists of printed fabric backdrops and scenery, floor coverings, retail displays, and interior projects.

 

Quality is important for the majority of the print jobs. However, with building and wall wraps, color accuracy trumps high resolution, since these projects are most often seen from afar. “Color accuracy is very important, otherwise the trademark or graphic profile is not represented correctly,” explains Andreas Skantze, president, Big Image.

 

While quality is of the utmost importance to Big Image, the company typically does not offer a warranty or guarantee on a building wrap’s longevity. In addition to using its Durst Image Technology US LLC large format printer to reach high quality standards, Big Image relies on dye-sublimation printers with a Monti Antonio Spa heat press and an internally developed airbrush machine.

 

City, Man, and Nature Façade

With roots back to 1851, the World Expo is a culmination of people, technology, culture, and ideas from around the world. The May 1 to October 31, 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, China was attended by 73 million visitors internationally.

 

Innovative design; exceptional environmental advances in lighting, water purification, and building materials; and attention-grabbing visuals produced by Big Image helped the Swedish pavilion stand out amongst 246 participating countries.

 

Architects from international engineering consulting company Sweco designed the 3,000 square meter pavilion and commissioned Big Image to handle the printing. Big Image helped the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Sweco realize its vision for the pavilion, printing a nature façade that graced select interior walls.

The concept for the event site was the meeting between city, man, and nature. According to Sweco, the concept is visualized in the pavilion’s printed façades, where the city is on the outside and nature imagery is on the inside. The graphics represent real Swedish forests thanks to famous photographer Mattias Klum.

 

Big Image printed the graphics using its Durst Rho 350R roll-to-roll UV-curable inkjet printer. In total, the façade components used 22,000 square feet of net vinyl mesh, about five liters of ink, and 50 hours of print time.

 

From Start to Finish

Handling and finishing a massive building or wall wrap can be complex, and production takes up space. The façade included six 65x65-foot images. Each image was comprised of seven ten-foot wide panels of printed vinyl mesh fabric at a full, 65-foot height. These panels were stitched together using custom sewing machines developed by Big Image. Webbing and grommets were then added on all of the edges.

 

Piecing together the graphics was a challenge because of the complex shapes. “None of the images had 90 degree corners. All of the images were completely asymmetrical to fit the asymmetrical pavilion,” points out Skantze.

 

Although the pavilion project is very exciting, notes Olle Lindqvist, president, U.S. division, Big Image, “it was extremely complicated.” Beyond its scale and complex finishing, additional challenges included collaborating with a Chinese construction company on site in Shanghai, time zone differences, building delays, geographical distance, and show security. Big Image also supervised installation by a local Chinese construction company, for which skylifts were used.

 

A World Class Showing

Brilliant architecture, environmentally revolutionary design, and grand-scale interior wall graphics brought Sweden’s vision for the expo to life. Big Image and its printed façade played a large role in the success of Sweden’s 2010 World Expo pavilion.  

May2011, Digital Output

 
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