BRUCE MAU DESIGN'S SMART ART-SCHOOL LOGO...
- May 6, 2011BRUCE MAU DESIGN'S SMART ART-SCHOOL LOGO IS A MINI ART GALLERY FOR STUDENT WORK
BMD's morphing new logo for OCAD University, in Toronto, shows what the school's really about: the students
By Suzanne LaBarreThe logo you see here belongs to OCAD University, Canada’s leading art and design school. Organizations like to think of themselves as dynamic and iconoclastic, but this one actually is -- it’s an art school, for chrissakes, the kind of place where doing anything ordinary is a crime on the order of being Thomas Kinkade -- and the mark, by Bruce Mau Design, reflects as much. It’s designed like an art gallery, featuring an ever-changing stockpile of student art and design.
Unveiled yesterday, the new logo is a triumvirate of Mondrian-esque frames, with “OCAD” in one frame and “U” in another. The third, largest frame, is left open for whatever the university wants to throw inside. It could, for instance say “OCAD University.” It could also say “Imagination Is Everything,” the school’s battle cry. But its primary purpose is to show off students’ creative toils. Each year, graduating student medal winners will be invited to mine their portfolios and contribute a piece to the logo, whether a sculpture, a graphic work or a painting, providing a set of logos for the following year.
The form takes its cues from the boxy, pixely madness of OCAD U’s beloved Sharp Centre for Design, designed by Will Alsop. The bigger concept, says Laura Stein, creative director at Bruce Mau Design, was “inspired by an exercise we did in a workshop [while conducting research for the logo]. We asked people to design an OCAD University crest. And we were inspired by all the different interpretations. We realized: You don’t really know what kind of work is being produced here. So the idea of being able to show that -- of having a series of marks that they could use in that way -- felt really important. We didn’t want to have to pin them down with a monolithic identity.”
The old logo was a handsome word mark that said “Ontario College of Art & Design,” but it failed to reflect a new fact of the 135-year-old institution: OCAD won degree-granting status in 2002 and, as a result, the college wanted to incorporate “university” into the school’s official communications. Thus was the imperative behind tapping Bruce Mau Design to overhaul OCAD’s visual identity.
Gathering input from university stakeholders -- from students, alumni, and professors all the way up to head-office mucky mucks -- was key. The designers conducted an online questionnaire, started a Facebook page, and held eight workshops. “It was a lot of work, but universities are especially democratic places,” Stein says. “So it was really important to understand how people were thinking -- and to frame it as a collaboration.”
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