University of Illinois at Chicago
Visual identity system for the UIC School of Art + Design.
These explorations and finished projects were developed over the summer of 2006, as part of a
graduate fellowship to develop a visual identity for the School of Art and
Design at UIC.
This work began with a reading of Karl Gerstner’s remarkable
book Designing Programmes (1964).
From the start, the idea was to construct a program in Gerstner’s sense: a set
of principles for generating multiple solutions to any design problem.
The resulting designs—the posters, projections, webpages, etc.—would belong
together and express a family resemblance, but a resemblance of processual
or structural identity rather than of a simple repetition of logo or typeface.
Much of the design work consisted in making grids, in
developing a programmatic grid that could successfully adapt itself to multiple
contexts. The idea is simple: the 7 departments of the School of Art and Design
are expressed as 7 equal columns in whatever format is at hand, and a
unified grid of squares is then constructed from this horizontal value. The grids
serve loosely as typographic measures and guides for image arrangement.
As explorations grew from these flexible premises, a deeper
theme within the design program began to emerge: the line between manual or
intuitive solutions and automatic or scripted ones. The goal was always to
develop a system flexible enough that a human hand could intervene to make
an improvement or mark a deviation, but the system should also be wellformed
and clear enough that almost anybody could be empowered to use it.
This antithesis animates what follows, and is never resolved.
The work collected here is unfinished. It marks a start from which
others might, in an experimental or practical spirit, make further iterations or
more elaborated programs.