Elevator by Darrin Umboh
By Amara Holstein / Published by Dwell

Commissioned to "spice up the company's old-school freight elevator with some graphics," Umboh explains that his clients placed no restrictions on his creativity. Inspired by cartoon imagery and street fashion, and smitten with bright colors, Umboh wanted to give elevator riders the impression that they were dropped into a vividly hued Impressionist painting which "instead of brushstrokes, is built up out of crazy detailed and colorful characters."

The result is a series of oversize psychedelic figures that ride the elevator along with you. A voluptuous blond angel with a small green alien perched on her arm welcomes visitors through the double elevator doors. Cool street kids eating hot dogs listen to an oversize stereo, a rotund orange cat flits around ankles, and a giant purple mask leers from the ceiling. One side of the painting is the wall of the elevator shaft, past which the elevator moves on its way up or down—so if you don't look around, you're sure to miss something.

It's a literal trip being inside, well-suited to Umboh's bold style, usually applied to his design of custom sneakers and streetwear through the Dutch design collective LEYP. We'd appreciate opening more elevator doors to find artwork like this inside.


Amara Holstein


A former editor at Dwell, Amara recently left the glamorous life of a magazine staffer to pursue her freelance writing dream. She has written for Sunset, Wallpaper*, the Architect’s Newspaper, VIA, and Apartment Therapy.

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