SID LEE, Montreal / IDEO.ORG / 2020
Our mandate was to reimagine the Design Vanguard’s brand identity before their 2019 conference at the Eames Ranch in California.
The Design Vanguard is a philanthropic community of business, tech, and social leaders committed to designing a more just and aesthetically pleasing world. It was founded in the spirit of Charles and Ray Eames, the renowned husband-and-wife design team that made considerable contributions to American modernist design. Non-profit organization IDEO.org helped establish the Vanguard and continue to organize its events.
The Vanguard wants to further the Eames's democratic design practices, aiming to harness the growing power and influence of designers to create a more inclusive future.
Our task was to create a visual identity and language system for the Design Vanguard. The project scale included brand guidelines along with branded expressions for their conference. The budget was 25,000 USD.
The creative angle for the Design Vanguard had to resonate with current, influential designers while paying homage to the Eames's modernist designs. We also needed to recognize the business executives and tech innovators the Vanguard appeals to. These leaders are experts in seeing insights. If we wanted them to engage with the Vanguard's goal of impacting the world through powerful design, an aesthetically powerful language was required.
Because the Vanguard's objectives include design inclusivity and holding designers to higher ethical standards, we took a progressive approach to creative concepts.
Ideas needed to be compelling enough to spark dialogue while spurring designers to develop solutions. Executions also had to be understood by the global design community, reflect its diversity, and further discussions around aesthetics and social inclusion.
For the visual language, we replaced select letters with iconography inspired by mid-century modernism. The shapes showcased abstraction and specificity, which reconnected to the meaning of each word.
Referencing Powers of Ten by the Eames – a film about scale and movement to help us see problems differently – we used macro and microphotography to explore varied perspectives, tackling subjects from unexpected angles.
Designs by the Eames inspired our bright and joyful colour palette. In a nod to punk-rock concert posters, iconography and texts were printed in black over pastel, neutral, or colour backgrounds. Also inspired by counterculture, the bold and capitalized Girott headline typeface provided an irreverent, playful, and rebellious tone.
The Clarendon Graphic body copy typeface – once used throughout the Eames’s work – complemented headlines with touches of warmth and charm.
Our modular logo included six variations, furthering the Design Vanguard’s mission of multiple perspectives.
The Design Vanguard has lofty altruistic goals. Our mandate was to communicate their mission and personality to the leading business, tech, and culture designers in attendance. And we feel we overwhelmingly succeeded.
Executions of our brand guidelines and visual expressions helped create a dialogue about how designers now have the power and responsibility to design a better world. They also complemented the Eames Ranch conference, opening spaces for participants to feel inspired to speak about issues and potential solutions.
To measure the impact, we took anonymous quotes from those in attendance.
“Wow guys. Few gatherings I've been to have felt as important as this week's Design Vanguard. Truly you've created a space to crack wide open the challenging, complicated, messy conversations that most need unleashing in our industry.”
“Thank you for bringing the beauty and magic and showing what great craft looks like.”