The brand identity for The Contemporary Austin, a new museum in downtown Austin, is a project by the international design consultancy Pentagram, the result of which I think is wonderful. Like the name, the new identity system is built around a simple wordmark, a sans-serif typographic solution that spells out the museum’s name in upper and lowercase but highlights the “A” in the word Contemporary with a capital letter and a change of color. This capital “A” makes reference to Art and the city of Austin, and the blue color is inspired by the lagoon at Laguna Gloria, tying in nicely with the lighting featured in the building’s facade. The capital “A” can work by itself as a icon for the museum and The Contemporary can and is already being used as a shorthand version of the identity. No doubt, this is extraordinarily clean and simple work with plenty of subtle references.
Nordic House is a a dry-cleaning company based in San Francisco who employed the branding talents of Anagrama from Mexico to develop the identity of its shop. Emulating Scandinavian design of strong geometric forms and a clean type within the colors of the cool nordic landscape, the result is this strong and minimal identity in all its collateral. It is as if the product, which is your dry-clean goods, will be delivered with the same level of freshness and clarity. I’ve always been a fan of Anagrama’s work. Their designs are often thoughtful and creative and Nordic House is just that: simple and effective.
Singapore-based Foreign Policy Design Group are in charge of this beautifully simple branding and wayfinding design for the Steven Holl-designed Sifang Art Museum in Nanjing, China. What I love about this project is that the graphic design draws its power basically from language. Oriental characters are typically very visual and graphic in nature, and the composition of Chinese and English create an elegant balance that stands strong on its own. The use of black to accentuate the branding material is also very elegant. What a lesson in simplicity.
The contemporary cycling culture is really easy to embrace these days with beautiful graphic and packaging designs like James Greig, who is behind the clean and elegant brand and site, Cyclelove. It is a refreshing site that is actually less about bicycles and more about people and their bicycle lifestyles. And after I have spent too much time going through the photostream of all bike related images, the features on all bicycle paraphernalia, I found the perfect gift for fellow minimalist design-loving, bicycle-riding enthusiasts in this simple ‘Just Ride’ limited edition print of abstracted bicycle frames by Greig on heavyweight matt black paper with a white gloss ink, hand-numbered, and packaged in a custom CycleLove poster tube.
Lately I am much more interested in graphic design, so that is why today I bring you another piece of great minimalist rebranding for Norwegian Shipowners’ Association, in this case, a project developed by the Norwegian Neue Design Studio. Norwegian Shipowners Association has around 160 members – shipowners in the tanker and bulk transport sector, short sea sector and offshore activities. We wanted to create an iconic, simple and elegant identity that would communicate NSA’s universe as well as being serious, bold and forward-looking, showing NSA as a competent and global actor. Again I find this to be very effective work, with a great combination of simplicity and symbology, representing the open sea using just two rectangles in different blue tone colors. I hope to discover and share with you similar rebranding works that are just as impressive!
The design challenge for BRR was to capture the essence of Antarctica – ‘The Earth’s White Box’ whilst retaining both the integrity of the scientific research and capturing the visual beauty of this majestic continent. The BRR team realised that information on this continent was like an iceberg floating in the ocean. As icebergs reveal a small section of themselves above the horizon whilst concealing a greater part underwater, there is a large percentage of information that still requires investigating for the betterment of our planet’s future. This way the studio BRR explains the rebranding made for the New Zealand Antarctic Research Institute, an entity responsible for developing, managing and executing New Zealand Government activities in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, in particular the Ross Dependency. The result is a clean and plain, but at the same time very effective graphic design work, made with a simple combination of geometric shapes to appear as icebergs in the sea, as well as using a monochrome code and sans-serif typography. Just perfect!
Berlin-based multidisciplinary creative hub HORT was charged with the daunting task of redesigning the identity of the icon of Modernism, the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation. The new identity’s elements consisted of stationery, brochures, posters, tickets, website etc., but also the redesign of the signage of Walter Gropius’ famous Bauhaus building. Given this, the studio wanted to make it clearly distinguishable what is part of the original structure and what new additions had been made. They followed the premise of strict typography and minimalist layout, standardised formats and no color. The chosen corporate typeface was Courier, the most generic and incidental typeface, in consonance with the studio’s belief that a generic design would work best in order to make the distinction between old and new. An important alteration of Courier’s “A” letter was made, saluting Herbert Brayer’s existing logo on the façade of the Bauhaus Dessau building, and the new logotype is always set vertically. We decided to search for a solution that would relate more to the original ideas of Germany’s most influential Modernist school instead of relying on the visual clichés connected to Bauhaus – it seems almost impossible to use circle, square and triangle nowadays without it coming across...
Emanuele Cecini designed the identity and branding for new creative agency, Orange Hive, based in Frankfurt, Germany. The designs included the creation of a logo, print stationary, website layout and art direction of the branding photography. The logo finds a surprising and elegant balance of lines and empty spaces, the branding is straightforward and uses a limited number of elements and information, and the pop of color provided by the orange accents gives the ensemble a nice twist, preventing it from being boring instead of the classy minimalism it achieved. I’m especially fond of the signage application!
Around the web we can find many minimalist versions of logos and packaging of well-known brands, and these examples are usually made by students or designers as personal work. However in this case, Microsoft has developed a new logo, for its new operating system, Windows 8, based on the concepts of simplicity and clarity and using just a single blue colour. I think this is the most important point about the new logo. A representative explains: It was important that the new logo carries our Metro principle of being “Authentically Digital”. By that, we mean it does not try to emulate faux-industrial design characteristics such as materiality (glass, wood, plastic, etc.). It has motion – aligning with the fast and fluid style you’ll find throughout Windows 8. The new logo design has been made by Paula Scher at Pentagram and I really enjoyed it when seeing it for the first time.
m_lab is a project recently completed by Barcelona based company Espluga + Associates, whose area of expertise ranges through advertising, naming, graphic design, branding and many other things ending with …ing. m_lab is the first store of Mesoestetic in Europe (the company specializes in developing skin care products). The level of involvement Espluga + Associates had in this project was truly comprehensive. The work included visual identity, graphic design, interior design, branding and packaging. I love how the lab-like sterility of the interior was made stylish by incorporating recognizable furniture pieces and familiar typography. Helvetica-driven signage and packaging make a great contribution to the overall design. The whiteness of the white is accentuated by the blue-tinted recessed lighting, which is another clever and beautiful detail.
Besides the great taste I also like the visual identity of Frozen Dutch, an Amsterdam based bio-enhanced ice cream brand. Mr. Boonstra created a fresh minimalistic identity with a direct Dutch approach focusing on the ice cream brand’s strongest assets: the appealing flavors that change with the seasons and the fresh ingredients each brings. Simple packages with bright colors and big typography and a clean website which gives you an overview of their flavor assortment. Frozen Dutch is on sale at Marqt (Amsterdam and Haarlem).
A dose of minimalism and efforts for changing the perception is maybe the simplest definition for Antrepo Design Studio. Minimalist effect in the maximalist market is about simplicity, with this project, the studio is trying to find alternate simple version for some package samples of the international brands. Antrepo team think almost every product needs some review for minimal feeling. I love the approach. What is your choice in these 3 different variations? 1. Original variation 2. Simple variation 3. More simple variation