Did you see the mirror?
Over the previous year, we have completed two murals at Hootsuite, Owl Eyes andSurfboard Feathers. Sandy noticed that since installing the two murals, there was a dramatic increase in the number of room bookings blocked off within the two rooms. Both of the rooms popularity was on the rise, which prompted a few questions:
- How could they convert other boardrooms in the building into inviting places where people actually wanted to be?
- Could they make daily work more fun simply by changing physical spaces into creative havens?
- Upstairs, next to the company’s busy sales area, there were two bleek white-walled boardrooms. They were unique in that they were the two smallest remaining in the office and were mirrored in size and shape – but they felt very claustrophobic. There was a massive opportunity, somewhere. #funfact these rooms were used as interrogation rooms in the past.
That’s when Steve had an idea. He wanted to encourage those inside to feel the freedom of flight (knowing the boardrooms were already named Elf Owl and Barn Owl). So he proposed they paint each of the owls flying (almost hovering), with their wingspans wrapping the entire width of each room. The idea was fun, but the two kept getting stuck on ways they were going to fit full-sized owls in such tight spaces.

A lightbulb when off in Steve’s head who proceeds to suggests that they have floor to ceiling mirrors installed in both rooms on opposite walls, and paint only half of each owl. The mirrors would reflect the half owl back, completing the animal while looking like the room had been doubled in size. From outside the rooms, the viewer would only see a single complete owl made of two halves.
We built a model which illustrated our concept using small scraps of paper, cardboard, foil mirrors, and even fuzzy carpet felt. We presented the final vision to Hootsuite, and it was immediately approved. Within seven days, Hootsuite had full floor to ceiling mirrors installed in both the rooms on opposite walls.
Now that we had a solid direction, we went back at the studio to create our final concept art, eventually deciding to paint one sharp pattern-edged male elf owl, and one soft pattern-edged, round female barn owl.
But challenges do happen beyond our control:
- Our short-throw projector failed which project had to be delayed one week. This gave is more time to polish the idea.
- Two days into painting, their our beloved cat Willow stopped eating and drinking, and quickly began to quickly deteriorate. After an immediate transport to the vet’s ICU unit and an overnight, she was later sent home with a meager outlook. Between tears and trips to the vet, we were able to care her back to health. (she lives on today.)
- On day three, our airbrush system began to malfunctions, spurting paint blobs instead of the intended smooth gradient. Steve adjusted techniques to account for the technical errors.
Challenges aside, the we painted the two murals over two weekends.  Their total time clocked in at over 200 hours, this includes conception to completion.

In the weeks following, much like Hootsuite’s Owl Eyes and Surfboard Feathers boardrooms, Sandy noticed their hopeful increase of boardroom bookings taking place in both spaces. We are thrilled to have helped create places that encouraged open collaboration and exploration among Hootsuite staff. We dedicate these rooms to our cat, Willow and her smooth recovery.
Sandy Pell
Steve Pell

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