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Enhancing the Event Experience with Art & Design with Maggie O’Neill — ECEO045

Enhancing the Event Experience with Art & Design with Maggie O’Neill — ECEO045

Enhancing the Event Experience with Art and Design — ECEO045

Maggie O’Neill, Artist and Co-Founder of SWATCHROOM

There is something intoxicating about watching someone create.  Inviting an artist to be a part of your event and do live painting, for example, makes for a powerful experience. But there are a number of other ways we can leverage art and design to improve the form and function of an event AND engage the imagination in an immersive environment.

Maggie O’Neill is the co-founder of SWATCHROOM, a full-service design, art and fabrication firm based in Washington, DC. SWATCHROOM specializes in translating ideas and brands into experiences and built environments. As an artist and creative entrepreneur, Maggie believes in art that makes an impact. IN addition to her own artwork, she designs restaurants, private residences and commercial spaces, including custom installations for real estate developers and companies like Twitter and Microsoft. Maggie’s work has been featured on the cover of DC Magazine and The New York Times, and she is a two-time winner of the design category for DC Inno’s 50 on Fire.

Today, Maggie joins Rebecca Linder to share her philosophy around creating environments that spark the imagination. She explains how she works with clients, asking questions around sensory experience and pushing boundaries to get to the ‘genius idea.’ Maggie discusses how artists can be incorporated into events, describing the power of watching someone create live and the novel ways technology can be leveraged to transform an environment. She walks us through her role as the official artist for the 2018 National Cherry Blossom Festival, explains how her unique parking ticket installation created buzz around the event and connected people to her artwork in a new way. Listen in for Maggie’s insight on finding inspiration in the mundane and learn how art and design can heighten the event experience.


Topics include:

  • Maggie’s insight on creating an environment that sparks the imagination
  • Maggie’s approach to asking permission before pushing boundaries
  • How the SWATCHROOM team pitches an idea by way of a prototype
  • Maggie’s experience live painting in nightclubs during graduate school
  • How artists can leverage events to connect with potential collectors
  • How to find local artists through nightclub promoters or Instagram
  • How design facilitates the logistics of the guest experience at an event
  • How Maggie uses form and function to inform the ‘bells and whistles’
  • How technology can be utilized to transform an environment
  • The buzz around Maggie’s unique installation at the Cherry Blossom Festival
  • How Maggie challenges herself to use materials that aren’t seen as beautiful
  • How Maggie is inspired by music, fashion, politics, business and travel
  • Maggie’s take on trends with regard to color palate and augmented reality


Mentioned in this podcast:


Maggie O’Neill Fine Art


Hirshhorn Museum

National Cherry Blossom Festival


Design Miami/Basel


Maggie O’Neill



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Maggie O’Neill

Maggie O’Neill is an artist, designer, and creative entrepreneur based in Washington, D.C. Living and working in the neighborhood of Shaw, her work is inspired by local landscapes and cultural icons, her travels abroad, notable women, and fashion. In 2012, Maggie had the honor of personally delivering a portrait to President Obama, and in 2014 her “DC Uncle Sam” was featured on the front page of The New York Times.

She is the co-founder of SWATCHROOM, a full-service design, art and fabrication studio. Through SWATCHROOM, she’s designed notable commercial spaces and private residencies throughout the Mid-Atlantic, including more than twenty restaurants and the offices for incubator 1776 in Washington, New York, and Dubai. She has also designed custom installation pieces for real estate developers, private commissions, and companies like Twitter and Microsoft.

Maggie is a fine artist, best known for her iconic pop impressionistic paintings of iconic Washington, D.C., landmarks and people, like her “Pop Capitol” and

“Flynn’s Jefferson Memorial.” She’s been the featured speaker for Creative Mornings DC, a two-time winner of the design category for DC Inno’s “50 on Fire,” named a “Woman of Influence” by Capitol File in 2015, and her art was featured on the cover of DC Magazine’s December 2016 issue, among other accolades.

In addition to her work, Maggie is focused on giving back to her community and paying it forward. She is the founder of SUPERFIERCE, a national traveling art exhibit that highlights female artists, benefits local charities and mentors aspiring artists. Proceeds from her artwork have benefited organizations like Research Down Syndrome, Autism Speaks, Habitat for Humanity, DC Central Kitchen, and Project Soar. Additionally, Maggie is active in her local community as a board member of Shaw Main Streets, a commercial revitalization and historic preservation non-profit.

Instagram: @Maggieoneillfineart, @Maggieoneilldc and @swatchroom
Twitter: @maggieoneill_dc and @SwatchRoom
Facebook: @MaggieOneillDC and @swatchroom
Websites: www.maggieo.com and www.swatchroom.com


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