For over 100 years, Planned Parenthood has fought for reproductive health and rights, championing the idea that women should have the information and care they need to live strong, healthy lives and to manage their own fertility. Pentagram has designed a large-scale installation that spotlights the dynamic history of this remarkable organization. The mural remixes graphics from a century of ephemera created by Planned Parenthood, capturing its dedication to care, education and activism.
The mural is installed at Planned Parenthood’s new national headquarters in Lower Manhattan. The nonprofit is America’s most trusted provider of reproductive healthcare, with a network of close to 60 affiliates that operate approximately 650 health centers across the country. An estimated one in five American women have chosen Planned Parenthood for healthcare at least once in her life, and the organization is currently powered by nine and a half million activists, supporters and donors nationwide.
The designers worked closely with leadership at Planned Parenthood to develop the installation. The main mural ascends through a three-story staircase at the center of the headquarters. The designers collaborated with the project architect, Juan Matiz of Matiz Architecture and Design, to integrate the graphics in a high-profile location in the offices.
The mural was timed to coincide with Planned Parenthood’s centennial in October 2016, and the original project brief asked to highlight the organization’s history, which is necessarily complex. The designers looked at the chronology and observed that the one factor running throughout the narrative was the extraordinary passion of the group’s supporters and activists, who have been truly heroic in their fight to make reproductive healthcare a reality for women.
The mural is a colorful collage composed of ephemera from a century of various initiatives—a mix of newspaper ads, instructional posters from clinics, protest posters, pins, photos of protests, and other historical material from the Planned Parenthood archive. The installation acknowledges the important role that activism and posters, placards, symbols and other graphics have played in garnering support. Many of the designs were originally created by grassroots activists, and the mural is a tribute to their impact in the movement for reproductive rights.
To create the mural, the designers researched historic images, selecting approximately 30 for the final display. The original images were of varying age and quality, so the team digitized the pieces to assemble the collage. The mural is fabricated of vinyl wall-covering, built in layers for a dimensional effect, with acrylic forms cut out and mounted over the surface. Pentagram used a similar approach to create a celebrated mural at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta.
The archival images have been reinterpreted using Planned Parenthood’s own color palette, with the addition of a bright yellow, to help tie the environmental graphics into the organization’s existing brand identity. The graphics are incorporated throughout the headquarters: In addition to the central installation, which is about 30 feet high and rises over three stories, smaller murals have been placed on walls throughout large conference rooms and other meeting spaces.
The mural has been welcomed as a colorful focal point and call to activism in the national headquarters. When leaders of Planned Parenthood’s affiliates saw the installation, they started requesting similar designs for their own health centers, and the designers are currently developing a system of supergraphics that can be adapted for various locations.