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
I’m in love with Fray’s 2010 identity designed by London based graphic design consultancy, Build. From the choice of typeface, to the paper stock selection, the end result just bliss. It’s the lack of elements that opens up to more possibilities. Fray is a new venture from Simon Waterfall, and looks to change the way design agencies work, and hints that they are already working with 3500 staff. The minimalist business cards acts as a template, allows staff to write their names in the debossed blank spaces. The letter/invoice letterhead is another fantastic detail as well. How do you react to minimalist identities and how minimal is your business card?
Clean, simple and elegant were the first words which came to mind when I saw the identity for the Art & Architecture of the Saint-Luc Institutes in Brussels. The consistent use of typography, the amount of white space and the small details are a big inspiration for all minimalist minded people. You can download a digital version of magazine #11 for some more inspiration. The identity for this Bi-annual magazine is designed by the French graphic designer Carine Collin who lives and works in Brussels. She has a good portfolio and her website is also a clean piece of art. I think I am in love!