Project Highlight: Pianos in the Parks

Pianos in the Parks was an innovative and truly inspired program sponsored by the Laird Norton Wealth Management company. In working with some of the leading music and arts organizations, Pianos in the Parks set out to encourage residents of the Seattle and King County areas to get out and enjoy the endless beauty of the region’s parks and open spaces.

logo-pianosintheparksAfter being donated, old pianos were given colorful new life by the artists at GAGE Academy of Arts and hidden in parks across the area. Residents were encouraged to find as many pianos as they could and enter a video contest to show off their elite piano-finding and playing skills.

It was a huge success and IvyCat is proud to have played a part in this community project. I was curious about the process of building the Pianos in the Parks site from both sides, so I interviewed IvyCat’s own Anne Plummer and Laird Norton’s Ga-Hsin Lai to find out more. Here’s what they had to say.

Laird Norton on Pianos in the Parks

Me: Could you share about why you feel Pianos in the Parks is so important right now?

Ga-Hsin Lai: Pianos in the Parks is a celebration of three things people love: the outdoors, music, and art. With this project we wanted people to be reminded of all the parks and open spaces right in their backyard. When pianos that have received a second life, decorated or painted by local artists, pop up in the middle of a park or open space, it’s not something people expect. It has brought strangers together to play, sing, or dance together. We have received endless photos and videos of people of all ages enjoying the pianos and in turn their park. At the end of this we hope all the pianos will get home where they can be enjoyed for years to come. It has been a great example of a public-private partnership with organizations from Seattle Parks to KEXP.

Me: Could you offer a summary of why your team chose IvyCat and talk briefly about the experience of working with them on this project?

Ga-Hsin Lai: IvyCat is our go-to for our web projects. With this specific project it all got decided on very quickly so the turnaround time was very tight. But they said no problem we can get it done and as usual they delivered. There were also a lot of new aspects to this project that I was not familiar with such as running an auction, running a contest, and using social media for the contest. But working with IvyCat is always stress-free since we talk it through, figure out what will work best, and get it done. They also have an amazing attention to detail and will point out things I hadn’t thought of which always make the end result better.

IvyCat on Pianos in the Parks

Me: I understand that IvyCat didn’t do the design for this site. Can you summarize for us non-techies exactly what you did with regards to building the site?

Anne Plummer: The design and marketing was done by 206 inc. We were involved in the technical strategy and planning… which means we sat in on some of the design planning meetings with the client and 206 mostly to say yea or nay when they asked if they could do something on the technical side. We also reviewed the wireframes and mockups with the client and gave suggestions for the best way to implement the features in the design. Once we got the final mockups we built the site from the ground up, making adjustments in collaboration with the client and 206. And we helped set up the hosting account and launched the site.

Me: I heard through the grapevine this was a challenging site to build. What were some of the technical challenges you faced and what solutions did you use?

Anne Plummer: Since this was a tight timeline, rather than reinventing the wheel, we found some plugins to help implement some of the more time-consuming/complicated features. We used plugins for the responsive Google map, the Facebook feed and the Piano auction to get the basic functionality and then tweaked and styled as needed.

Me: What did you enjoy most about this project?

Anne Plummer: Working with Ga-Hsin at Laird Norton Wealth Management is always a pleasure. It’s a beautiful design with some delightful interactive features for a fun event. And seriously… parks, pianos, summer? What’s not to like.

Summer’s over but we’re already looking forward to what next year will bring. The project was a HUGE success and enjoyed by so many residents and visitors. It’s community projects such as this one that gets us all running to the IvyCat offices every morning ready to tackle the next exciting challenge.

Check out the winner of this year’s contest, Mindie Lind!


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