Google’s Data Center Mural Project commissions artists to bring visibility to its physical cloud storage facilities.

Google Is Decorating Its Nondescript Data Centers With Colorful Murals

Google Is Decorating Its Nondescript Data Centers With Colorful Murals

The Eye
Slate’s design blog.
May 17 2016 8:43 AM

Google Is Decorating Its Nondescript Data Centers With Colorful Murals

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Belgian street artist Oli-B painted clouds depicting images of local life for the Google Data Center in Saint-Ghislain, Belgium.

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The cloud where our personal data lives is more than a nebulous metaphor. Our paperless photos and documents are warehoused on servers in nondescript industrial buildings. Google has decided to shine a spotlight on these overlooked structures with its Data Center Mural Project, which commissions artists to paint the humble façades of cloud storage facilities scattered around the world.

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“Whether it’s sharing photos, searching the web, or translating languages, billions of requests are sent to ‘the cloud’ every day,” vice president of Google Data Centers Joe Kava writes on the Google blog. “But few people know all this information flows through physical locations, called data centers. Because these buildings typically aren’t much to look at, people usually don’t, and rarely learn about the incredible structures and people who make so much of modern life possible.”

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A Google Data Center in Mayes County, Oklahoma, with a mural by Bay Area artist Jenny Odell.

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Kava said that the project aims “to bring a bit of the magic from the inside of our data centers to the outside.” In Mayes County, Oklahoma, a mural by artist Jenny Odell is based on Google Maps satellite images of infrastructure such as swimming pools and wastewater plants. Belgian street artist Oli-B painted cloudlike images depicting Belgian life for Belgium’s Saint-Ghislain data center. Next up are Dublin and Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Kava said the company hopes to bring the project to its additional data centers around the world.

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Muralist Jenny Odell (right) inside Google's Data Center in Mayes County, Oklahoma.

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Read more about Google’s data centers at the project website or check out the video below to hear the artists talk about their work:

Kristin Hohenadel's writing on design has appeared in publications including the New York Times, Fast Company, Vogue, Elle Decor, Lonny, and Apartment Therapy.