Corp ID: The Great Museum Conundrum
It’s been a week. A week of nonstop bullshit sickness taking over my life again and I’m sick of being sick.
But here we are now, and I’m ready to get my ugly, yella, no-good keister out of the bed and into the design world again.
It’s like being a turtle that’s super, super deep under water that’s coming up for a fresh breath of air. boom.
Let’s get started, shall we?
Medium Post: Reactions to Whitney identity
1. What was your initial reaction to the Whitney identity system after reading the first article?
After reading the article, I think that minimalists like Experimental Jetset and the like are ballsy. They push to have designs that are near-painfully simple that it causes people to lose track of the essence of simplicity in them. Heading to their website, you see a bravely blank and boring expression of design that underlays a major role in graphic design as a whole.
But Alex, what do you mean by this? Is all design open-ended to a degree?
I argue yes. open-ended design is incredibly effective and unique, but ever-changing. Observe Experimental Jetset’s earlier works (circe 2000) and you will see a design that was hyper-minimal back then, but much more current now.
Why I wanted to show Experimental Jetset is because as the creators, they have made it very clear that their design style as hyper minimalists is to push sensible, contemporary design that is able to be initially taken in whatever way your mind feels.
2. In your own words, describe what responsive design is. What are the pros and cons of applying responsive design to an identity system?
Responsive design is design that is malleable and fitting for more than just one scenario. I’m going to avoid talking in terms of web design because I don’t want that application to be what I’m talking about as much as I’m talking branding, here. Responsive design is pretty much exactly as I’m describing below—perceivable to all in their own way, with no one-exact sense of it. There are great pros to designing this way of designing in identity—it’s unique (duh), ever-changing, artistic, contemporary, and witty; however, there are equally dulling cons. A responsive design could be niche, which in some sense can be a good thing, but when you’re trying to appeal to mass, it’s very hard (but not impossible) to do so. Other aspects to consider with responsive design is concept, which may also get lost in translation. As a matter of fact, translation is probably the most difficult part about responsive design. If your vision doesn’t make sense to the mass population, it will not be taken seriously (or however you want it to be), but we are designers. We are supposed to find solutions for translations, are we not?
3. The new Whitney identity has been criticized as boring and duplicitous due its simplistic, open-ended design. Do you agree or disagree — why? Are boring and simple one in the same?
I do believe it’s a bit boring, but only if you perceive it that way. Pretentious and artsy people know what I mean… but do you understand why? IT IS SUBJECTIVE. Just because something is minimal does not necessarily mean it is boring. It’s blank to fill space in your mind, to come up with your own clarities and concepts. To place simplicity and boring in the same space is to put a mindset mixed with a concept. They are not the same. Another example of this is in how we perceive a logo that is super busy. Designers with trained eyes will look past it instantly—it’s the simplistic ones that you’ll think about because they’re made to be that way.
I think humans struggle with this concept in a way that makes things like lettermarks seem “easy design” to the common folk, when in reality it takes much more than that to express this.
Part I: Rebranding a Museum
Rebranding a museum isn’t easy, to say the least. You need to be careful about your audience and especially understanding of the dynamics of both the museum and the subject of the museum. In that, you don’t need to be affluent in the subject matter, but you need to understand well enough how and why some things are the way they are. Imagine using a wrong symbol that spells out “tits” for the “Scandinavian Historical Museum” or something to that degree. As I said above, Translations, homie. Except in this sense I guess that’s a bit literal.
This is a bit tough to think, you know? On one end, I want to go full on Death and like do the Museum of Death or Voodoo, but on the other hand…. I also kind of like the Devil’s Rope Museum. It seems pretty tough and I could do a lot with the rope sort of looking like devil horns. With the museum of Death, I feel like I’ll just end up doing exactly what I don’t want to do—make it look cheeky.
I’m not sure. I don’t like when I see like 600 people doing one project, because then I feel like sometimes things get streamlined.
….and then there was This that I saw:
Part II: Research
RESEARCH | Beginnings
Looking at their website, I instantly see trains (again, duh). Fortunately at one point I used trains, so I have a good little background on it (translation!) and I also think I could push the idea of using certain benchmarks and pastiches to make some good-looking style that adheres to that style. Honestly I’m pretty glad that I did not have the capacity to show up for class, because I think I can come in with a different approach when I (finally) get my thumbs going here.
Now, here’s some little tidbit notes:
- I instantly think of Massimo Vignelli’s metro maps and his style approach
- Other people that could have a great look-in is Aaron Draplin, George Bokhua, and maybe freakin Paula Scher.
- There’s a bit of Swiss design at hand–look at “The Power to Move You”, for example
- That very same font also screams post-industrial—a potential route that this could be taken in
- Colors are strong and complementary—plenty of room to work with in terms of the Orange, White, and Blue.
- Other avenues to explore could include time tickets and industrial rust-belt factory fonts (like that one on 12th Street in Erie)
- Business information: existing identity/branding system, location, contact info, any tag lines, mottos, sub titles, secondary names, etc.
- Business history, mission statement
Since our founding in 1944, the museum and staff have worked to curate the largest collection of its kind in the world. Today, our mission is to be the leader in protecting and interpreting North America’s transportation heritage.
Our collection is recognized as the largest collection of transportation vehicles in the world. We have embarked on a capital campaign ensuring a bright future for our historic past.
- Summaries/reviews of recent exhibitions, articles, visitor reviews
- Images of interior/exterior, any other existing imagery you can find
- Existing design as inspiration
RESEARCH | Mind Map
Although I don’t necessarily find Mind Maps super useful, I still am doing them to show a thought process in which I may follow that relates to this museum.
Part III: Logo Drafting
DRAFTING | Logo Exploration
Part III: Digital Render
BONUS: Other Bullshit
I did these during class crit, and I started making a font, so thanks Ashton for the whole Sing Sing thing thing.
Part IV: The Next Step
The class has spoken. Although I think that in their own right each of these logos are capable of logo-age, I think that the important aspects to consider is the client. A Museum. So, for the next look, I ended up pushing some more ideas of what I have for variation in terms of type and icon for my first chose (the squiggly T). I made minor changes to the spiky letters on the third one—all I did was change outlines so they were consistent in black and in white. I was quite happy with every other aspect of it… but I did also try to incorporate an arrow in some way. It didn’t work (lol)
Anyways, I will tell you the direction that I think works best from what I have, but I’d love to hear your opinions before I tell you my direction.
Part V: The Final Step
I decided to keep with my original look with a variable mix of typographies explored to get a less contemporary feeling towards the logos. I also chose to show both the in-color and b/w along with my image of inspiration. The usage of a less condensed but still-clean font in TRANSPORTATION gives heavier emphasis on the word, which is the primary subject matter.
I keep the sharp edges because I think the less contemporary look feels more modernist and makes my lil heart flutter. There’s symmetry, there’s badda bing, and of course there has to be badda bang. Enjoy.