Opinion by Richard Baird.
The American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) is a professional design organisation with a membership that covers all forms of visual communication, from graphic design, typography and interaction, to branding, animation and environmental design. As well as supporting a community of over 25,000 nationwide members, advancing design as a professional craft, strategic advantage and vital cultural force, AIGA organises biannual events the AIGA Design Conference and GAIN: AIGA Design and Business Conference, which are held alternating years.
In 2016, the AIGA Design Conference became an annual event. This marked, after 100 years as standard bearer for professional ethics and practices, a moment of transition, and the implementation of a new vision to become a hub for broader creative constituencies. Taking inspiration from the evolving nature of the organisation, and the unexpected ways that people and ideas come together in one place, Mother Design develop a visual identity for this new period of AIGA Design Conferences, the first of which took place in Las Vegas between 17 – 19 October 2016.
“Our design solution became a metaphor for the organisation and annual conference itself: evolving over time and embracing the beautiful, messy and sometimes unexpected ways that people and ideas come together in one place. Strategically, the AIGA “cube” represented a magnetic center of gravity–drawing design disciplines together while dimensionalising and fostering all kinds of inspiring interactions and collisions along the way.” – Mother Design
The notion of a magnetic AIGA cube, drawing together design disciplines, is abstract as a static image but more explicit in motion, acknowledging compelling format (large screens), context (creative diversity) and environment (of motion and interaction), and builds out from there.
The new AIGA Design Conference identity is made up of two opposing visual expressions, the mechanical and technical qualities of monospace type and its grid-based arrangement, and the dynamic, often organic and material qualities of image.
Type functions as an anchor to motion in its consistency; monolinear lettershapes, monospacing and grid-based arrangement. It finds a balance between the precise delivery of information and more conceptually, reflects the often systems-based nature of design and the mechanical, electronic and digital reproduction technologies that have aided in its implementation. This feels particularly relevant for an organisation that is over a 100 years old.
A broad colour palette provides significant contrast to the impersonal qualities of type and begins to work in a sense of diversity, which is then explored more explicitly through form. These are impactful as single ink and cheerful in their pairings. Both type and colour are elevated by their oppositional qualities, making a connection between the methodical and rigorous nature of process and the human experience of product.
Shape, colour and texture of three-dimensional models work as an expression of diversity. Where type is precise and direct, shape is impressionistic. There is significant differentiation and visual interest to these, both collectively and individually, with a quality in their finer detail and material qualities. Particular highlights include the impurities of cut stone, the furniture-like joins and the seems of moulded plastic. These are unusual and disparate forms but share a designed quality A good use of proportionality, juxtaposition and cropping provides shapes, within static contexts, a sense of being in motion or in transition.
Although type, colour and image have disparate qualities, be it the mechanical and impersonal nature of type alongside the conviviality of colour, or the areas of single ink next to the detail of form, these are bound by a sense of change. Type is rearranged and animated within grid, can be big of small, a single piece of communication or as pattern. Colour is applied as a single ink, paired with image or bisects pages. Shapes move and interact on screen or used individually, blown up and cropped across posters.
There is plenty of variation, and a good balance of aesthetic interest and a clarity of communication. The work has a flexibility. The ability to dial up the visual and compelling (above) or dial this down to single colour and black type, whilst retaining a continuity. There is room to change. Colour palette and shape can be switched up to keep identity fresh whilst maintaining the conceptual foundation and an aesthetic commonality. More work by Mother Design on BP&O.
What do you think of Mother Design’s brand identity for AIGA Design Conference? Share your thoughts in the comment section below or get the conversation started on Twitter.