February 13, 2009

new dimension

When my friend Myron and I went to New York for the All Star Game last summer, we rented a flat in the East Village about a block from Cooper Union. We couldn't have been happier with our base location in New York - it was a crossroads in every way you can imagine - age, race, culture - all blending in vibrant and electric ways in the area around Cooper Square and Astor Place which, though not square, acted as the public square for the area. Cooper Union is a tuition-free college of architecture, fine arts, and engineering - an odd juxtaposition of left brain and right brain. The school has just unveiled its new logo and identity system, designed by Stephen Doyle and Doyle Partners. In an uncanny and brilliant way, Doyle has captured everything I described above in the new logo that meets the schools desire for a fresh and provocative identity. In a New York Times column, designer and author Steven Heller speaks of it far better than I could hope to, so I'll quote parts of his column verbatim:

Doyle "had to symbolize the schools of art, engineering and architecture. His task was to represent science and art, or “two sides of the brain,” as he calls it, in a single icon, and he began by exorcising the ghosts of old bearded Cooper and Honest Abe. So instead of musty graphic artifacts, Doyle used light and transparency to suggest the intersection of art and science. “Cooper’s a quirky institution, so the mark had to reflect that,” he told me. “It had to reflect the imagination too.”' ... "The colors “could represent the three different schools, and the two shapes (the C and the U) could be science and art,” he said, but they are also just aesthetically pleasing." ... '“The words THECOOPERUNION are smushed because people always say the name that way,” Doyle explains. He adds that the words printed in color — “150″ (yellow), “Cooper” (red), “Years” (cyan) — were designed as a unit “so that the word ‘Cooper’ is an adjective” (i.e. 150 Cooper Years). And the gray of “The” and “Union” and red of “Cooper” are an homage to the late George Sadek, who headed the school’s graphic design department and established the color scheme for John Hejduk’s earlier renovation of the main building." ... "The box is free of gravity, symbolizing the imagination and suggesting a large measure of play."

Capturing so many aspects of an institution with such a simple and unconventional solution - it's just plain brilliant.
  • Steven Heller: Graphic Content | Cooper Union's New Logo
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