“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant.” --Robert Louis Stevenson
Thirty years ago, a creative barter of services—painting a simulated sky over a patient bay in an orthodontist’s office in exchange for pediatric dental work—spawned a business idea that ten years later would yield a pioneering biophilic design application.
In 2022, that seed idea reached a remarkable milestone. Sky Factory, the company that emerged from the original deal, reached over 10,000 installations around the world.
Sky Factory’s team estimated how many have people have experienced the therapeutic benefits of Luminous SkyCeilings, the only biophilic illusions of nature on the market:
- In healthcare settings alone, a SkyCeiling is seen by an average 25 visitors/day
- Over an entire year, approx. 6,500 people are exposed to a single installation
- In its 10-year lifetime, a single SkyCeiling impacts over 65,000 people, equal to the average seating capacity of an NFL football stadium
Furthermore, Sky Factory’s research-verified installations have been shipped to major healthcare networks in every continent, including specialty commercial spaces ranging from Dallas to Doha, Paris to Pasadena, and Toronto to Tokyo.
Since 2002, Sky Factory Luminous SkyCeilings, Luminous Virtual Windows and Digital Cinema products have been seen by an estimated 650 million people.
That’s 4X the number of visitors to the top 25 U.S. National Parks in 2021 (146M visitors).
Illusory skies overhead—a seed idea about the healing power of the sky—found fertile ground in the millions of square feet of both drop ceilings housing windowless spaces or lifeless interiors.
In deep appreciation for the opportunity to make a difference in the experience of diverse occupants, we invite you to explore some highlights that transformed sky imagery from a symbolic representation—or just pretty pictures—to a restorative architectural illusion within ten years of its launch and thereafter to a practical, research-verified solution in the ensuing decade.
Learn more about origins of the Sky Factory and discover how the vastness of the sky inspired the creation of bone fide virtual skylights that uniquely engage areas of the brain involved in spatial cognition and depth perception.
A Beautiful Company
Sky Factory founder Bill Witherspoon conceived Sky Factory as an art piece. Not only did he seek to bring the pristine beauty of nature indoors through a blend of fine art principles, cognitive perception mechanics, and digital technology capabilities, he also sought to make the structure and operations of the company reflect the way nature worked.
Life’s blueprint is its DNA/RNA blueprint and Bill sought to create a company culture that reflected nature’s dynamic cellular communications where the information of the entire organism is available in every cell, even as each one specializes and participates in discrete teams.
Such a goal meant abandoning the traditional hierarchical model and instead embracing a flat, hive style of management where transparency, collaborative consensus, and a passion for individual performance and dedicated customer service was the underlying foundation. Through years of persistence, the company earned new business through peer-to-peer word-of-mouth, client referrals and even by picking up business from urgent jobs no one else would risk promising to deliver on time.
“I wanted to bring in people that could think like managers and improvised like entrepreneurs, not just sit back and take direction like traditional employees,” Bill says.
Over the years, veteran of the Sky Factory management model have applied these lessons and some have even founded their own businesses.
Mentorship & Fellowship
“Sky Factory was the best job I ever had,” says Radim Schreiber, an award-winning nature photographer whose work has earned 1st place in competitions organized by The Rainforest Alliance, the National Wildlife Federation, and the Smithsonian Magazine.I have many joyful and special memories from my 13 years at Sky Factory,” says Radim.
“Working with a great team of people and searching for great product photography made me very happy to wake up in the morning. I knew that our product would make people feel at ease, put a smile on their face, and even help their healing at the hospital. That was a precious feeling, a worthy purpose in my life.”
“It was an honor to learn and work along a seasoned artist like Bill Witherspoon. I am grateful for how much I learned about art, nature, life, and how to run a company, which later became very important when I established myself as a fulltime artist, running my own business,” Schreiber notes.
In Gratitude to our Clients
In these two decades in business, Sky Factory would not have succeeded without all the architects and interior designers who took the time to experience our products at trade shows and kept our solutions in mind when working on new projects with their clients.
We are grateful to all the healthcare professionals ranging from radiologists, department heads, doctors and shift nurses, therapists and patient experience advocates, all of whom work in very stressful clinical environments and have come to understand first-hand, the positive benefits of a restorative visual connection to nature brought about by a Luminous SkyCeiling.
And to all the wellness and human resource managers that sought to bring in a biophilic design features into their workplace, the many educators who have enhanced the classroom experience, as well as facility managers in multiple industries ranging from government buildings and senior living developments to hospitality and specialty retail environments, we appreciate your patronage and value the lasting working relationships that have carried us through these two decades.
Furthermore, we look forward to sharing with you a couple new products from Sky Factory later this fall and in coming years.