We at the HS Sign Shop have worked on a lot of cool, crazy and unique projects since we opened our doors–it’s what we do. Many custom wall display projects stand out as memorable for us, and one in particular will stay in our hearts for many years to come.
Koen, a local 7-year-old who has a respiratory disorder, was granted a wish by Make-A-Wish South Dakota & Montana, and he made the incredible decision to help other kids. And when we were asked to help with the project, we jumped on board without hesitation.
Creating the Room Concept
Koen is truly a farm kid. Cattle, tractors, early mornings–he loves everything about it.
To make his wish come true, Koen wanted to transform the Avera Specialty Pediatrics waiting room into a play area themed around his farm that helps kids have fun during their visits. This required us to come up with a wrap display design and make the room have a fun farm feel.
“Make-A-Wish told us ‘go,’ so I started by creating a design of a cartoon farm,” said Eric Van Beek, one of our Large Format Specialists. “We got the dimensions of the room, came back, had a group meeting, and showed the team the rough concept, and they all loved it.”
However, the most important client to get approval from was Koen.
“He loved the design from the get go,” said Eric. “And once we found out he had a dog and cat, we included them in the design, with their name tags. Koen also made sure we got the details of his farm right, like putting in a Black Angus cow instead of a stereotypical Holstein, and adding a cab on to the tractor.”
Bringing a Wish to Life
The key to a project like this is looking at the canvas we have and asking ourselves, “What else can we do to make this better?” By adjusting to the room and coming up with ideas to make it more immersive, we were able to really bring the project to life.
“There’s nothing we like doing more than working with the client in their space,” said Eric. “That’s where we shine.”
Part of the location included large, structural pillars in the middle of the room. To help create more of a unified space, we covered pillars with corn fields, so as a child enters the room, they feel as if they have stumbled across a real farmyard.
Another critical aspect of the project included the incorporation of three dimensional elements.
Working with Koen, we added in spots where the wall display appears to bump out into a physical element.
A cutout in one of the barn windows features an interactive display from Nanonation, which integrates seamlessly into the design and lets children learn about farming from Koen.
Additional features included a tractor kids can sit in, birds and clouds popping off the wall, and a halo-lit sun that is reminiscent of the sunrise mornings on Koen’s family farm.
These design elements, coupled with the interactive displays, custom coloring book, and free model tractors from Tractor Supply Company for every kid, make the experience immersive and positive for visiting children.
Revealing the Project
Once the project was completed, we had the privilege of being there for the big reveal, and watching Koen light up is what made the project even more special to us.
“There’s not a lot of days like that, ever,” said Eric. “It was cool to be a part of it.”
Koen explored all of the elements of his farm, and had a fun time pointing out all of the little details.
“There’s a stuffed rooster on top of the barn wall, and Koen loved the rooster when we saw it,” said Eric. “He named it ‘Tommy’–instantly–so when the project was done, we got another one and sent it to him.”
In the end, it was more than just creating a farm display or doing usual work for a client, it was about executing a vision to bring Koen’s wish to life.
“It started with a phone call, and turned into this huge thing that’s going to make a difference to kids for years,” said Eric. “That kid is truly amazing.”