The City of Clayton is the county seat of St. Louis, Missouri bordering the City of St. Louis. Its downtown business district is one of the fastest growing in the region with a diverse population of local residents and professionals; and attracts many visitors to its government center and area restaurants and shops. People travel to and around Clayton by car despite it being well-connected by public transport and incredibly walkable. In an effort to change this, the City of Clayton commissioned us to create a pedestrian and vehicular wayfinding program that makes it easy to navigate the city on foot and encourages people to park upon arrival, ultimately reducing road congestion.
We carried out a wayfinding study and led a series of public consultations to identify issues. We found that even long-time residents who knew the city well still relied heavily on their cars out of habit, but also because of a misconception about the time it takes to walk from one place to another. We developed a comprehensive signage system that includes pedestrian fingerposts with times to key places, kiosks with pedestrian maps, vehicular directionals and parking identification.
While downtown Clayton has many contemporary skyscrapers, the streetscape has a traditional quality with brick pavings and cast-iron lampposts. Our intent was to create a modern signage system that could sit within this context with restraint – to have a contemporary, yet timeless aesthetic that is highly visible but with a subtle presence. We designed the full system in black, powder-coated steel, with pedestrian signage accented with red-orange caps. Each kiosk includes You-Are-Here pedestrian maps, created for all unique locations. Our team carried out all aspects of the project, including wayfinding, map design and industrial design. The final system included over 100 signs installed across the full extent of Clayton’s downtown.
Velvet Coat is a fashion retailer with two stores in Iowa, one in Des Moines and a second in Iowa City. Bringing together a mix of established and emerging designers, Velvet Coat offers a thoughtful collection of beautifully designed contemporary pieces; and has established itself as one of the leading fashion retailers in the region since opening nearly two decades ago.
We created the Velvet Coat identity using different characters from three serif typefaces for the logotype and for the body type by using GREP styles, giving what at first glance looks quite classic a contemporary edge. The body type is paired with a modern sans serif for secondary information. We used simple, affordable materials for packaging and printed matter, yet with the addition of letterpress printing and custom details, these understated pieces maintain a sophisticated quality. This combination of elements convey the retailer’s foundation of timeless pieces intermixed with more experimental wears from up-and-coming designers.
Velvet Coat does not sell online, but wanted a distinct digital presence to introduce itself to customers. For a site with minimal content, we designed a highly interactive website that changes with each new visit by randomly generating different combinations of photographs from the brands carried in store. Our design establishes a distinct graphic language around the type-based identity.
Tokyo Type Directors Club, Prize Nominee in Annual, 2018
Corrigan Company is one the largest mechanical contractors in the US, leading complex piping projects for industrial and institutional buildings across the country. Founded in 1896, the company has remained family-owned to this day. To celebrate 120 years in business, we created a visual identity for the anniversary that brings a fresh perspective to the company and engages both staff and external audiences.
The visual identity comprises three elements – typographic seals, headline messaging and illustrations – all paired with a vibrant color palette taken from technical piping drawings. Executed with bold simplicity and a bit of humor, the visual identity reflects the down-to-earth, non-corporate personality of this family-owned company, yet in a manner that conveys professionalism and expertise.
We created a booklet that tells the company’s story through the decades – with illustrations to represent key buildings and historic moments. These illustrations paired with humorous copy served as the foundation for campaign graphics. The project allowed the identity to extend across various applications, from print ads to t-shirts, from packing tape to post-cards, and from construction site signage to ball markers and golf polos. This diverse collection of collateral was given to clients and staff in celebration of Corrigan’s 120 years in business.
The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis, Missouri is the site of a modern icon – the Gateway Arch by Eero Saarinen – and a historic 91-acre landscape by Dan Kiley. Michael Van Valkenburg Associates (MVVA) won the City Arch River international design competition in 2010 with a visionary plan to revitalize the Arch grounds, the riverfront and portions of the neighboring downtown.
As part of this scope, MVVA led the redesign of Kiener Plaza, the city’s main public square that links the National Park Arch grounds with the Gateway Mall – the main public space downtown that includes Citygarden and Richard Serra’s public sculpture Twain. We were commissioned by MVVA to design signage for the revitalized Kiener Plaza.
MVVA’s work in public space and landscape is characteristically contemporary and timeless, understated yet equally graphic. The signage for Kiener Plaza maintains these same qualities by using a contemporary sans serif with distinctive characters that offset it from being a more standard grotesque typeface. To sit discreetly within the minimalist environment, signage is etched directly into surfaces and left plain or filled with color. Forms are constructed from stainless steel – the material used by the landscape architects throughout the Plaza and also for the Arch, which is prominently visible on the far end of the two-block Plaza. The system includes the attribution for “The Runner” – the sculpture that sits at the center of the main fountain; donor recognition for those who funded the revitalization; and playground signage. With play and public spaces, Kiener Plaza is a sophisticated yet informal gathering place for the city, a sensibility echoed in our design scheme.
Invitation, program and collateral for Shakespeare Festival St. Louis’ annual fundraising gala to support a year’s worth of programs and performances. Briefed to create a contemporary design to fit the playful, relaxed atmosphere of the event and the Festival’s unconventional approach, the identity balances a classic storytelling quality with a fun modern feel through the combination of fonts and reflected graphic.
Metro Nashville Arts Commission completed a strategic planning process to establish the vision, goals and best practices for the city’s public art program. We were tasked to design the full-report, a 133-page pdf document made available online, as well as an executive summary booklet with accompanying theory of change chart. The brief was to make a substantial and sometimes technical report accessible and appealing to a diverse audience of prospective partners ranging from government agencies to progressive arts organizations. The aim for the design was to reflect the energetic and independent culture of the city and convey Metro Arts’ expertise as a leading arts organisation.
In 2006, the Gateway Foundation transformed two vacant blocks in downtown St. Louis to create Citygarden, a highly acclaimed urban sculpture park featuring works by leading contemporary and twentieth-century artists. Open 24 hours a day with no fences or barriers, Citygarden encourages visitors to interact with the sculptures in a way almost never seen: to touch, even climb on, the works if they so choose. The garden was the culmination of the Foundation’s two decades of work placing sculptures by internationally renowned artists in public spaces throughout the region.
Combining captivating photographs taken over a two-year period with scholarly texts, this book documents each work and the environment in which it stands – from busy urban streets to suburban green spaces. With a focus on the relationship between sculpture, place, and people, it offers a rarely depicted view of such significant works, not in a museum or gallery, but as integral to the diverse landscape and activities of the city.
Appointed to oversee editorial direction and design the book, we led the project from inception – commissioning writers, editors, photography and hand-drawn maps – ultimately securing a publication partnership with Prestel for international distribution.
The book includes essays by Director of MIT’s List Visual Arts Center Paul Ha; Dean of Graduate Studies at RISD Patricia Phillips; author Robert Duffy; Dean and Professor of Architecture at Fay Jones School of Architecture, University of Arkansas, Peter MacKeith; and landscape architect Warren Byrd. Photographer Ross Mantle photographed the collection and London-based artist J. Maizlish Mole created two detailed hand-drawn maps of the garden and city that record his experiences visiting each sculpture over the summer.
Print Magazine, Regional Award, 2017
We were commissioned by the Saint Louis Art Museum to design wayfinding and signage for its expansion by David Chipperfield Architects. The original and main building, designed by Cass Gilbert, was built as one of the exhibition pavilions for the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. Significant growth in the collection’s contemporary artworks led to a major commission to expand the museum. The new pavilion sits with understatement in the landscape, set back within a grove of trees beside the original Beaux Arts building.
Our brief was to develop a wayfinding scheme that unites the original museum with the new modern wing, creating one system to be used throughout both spaces. In keeping with the sensibility of the space, signage is executed with simplicity and restraint, integrated into the building’s materials for unobtrusive, yet clear navigation. For navigational signage and room identifications, type is silkscreened onto interior surfaces or panels of blackened metal. The donor wall, located within the entry vestibule, was specially crafted in Venetian plaster with sponsor names cut in polished stainless steel and embedded by hand. Exterior building signage is cast into the concrete plinths of the landscaped forecourt.
Washington University commissioned architects Bohlin Cywinski Jackson to design a 66,000-square-foot athletic complex for students and university athletes. We were commissioned at the start of the three-year design process to develop the building’s wayfinding strategy and design all signage. This included directionals, code signage and donor recognition. The client’s intent was to have a discreet signage system that felt integrated into the largely open-plan, naturally-lit space. With few interior walls, we inserted the directional signage into the vertical beams throughout the space. Since the building is the most modern on campus and the least formal (given its recreational use), we used a contemporary typeface in a vibrant shade of red – the signature color of the university’s sports teams – to capture the dynamic energy of the activities taking place in the space.
Schema Projects is a Brooklyn-based gallery that exhibits works on paper, such as drawings, prints, sketchbooks, artists books, limited editions, models and diagrams. Founded by artist Mary Judge, the gallery aims to highlight art forms on paper and give exposure to the role of drawing in the creative process.
Our studio designed the gallery’s identity, print materials and collateral, including a custom typeface, stationery, exhibition cards, ads, signage, invites and totes. The identity design reflects the idea behind the gallery’s name, where a guide or underlying schema is broken by text that’s positioned freely within this framework. Since the focus of the gallery should remain on the works presented rather than its own identity, we developed an understated system that is both sophisticated yet unconventional to reflect its position as a younger, less established, artist-run gallery.
We designed a custom typeface in a single weight for the logo and use across all materials – based on a classic grotesk typeface with unique alterations made to letterforms, such as square brackets on j and t and a round dot. Subtle imperfect elements create a contemporary feel, and reinforce the idea of an underlying schema that is not always matched in reality.
Jazz St. Louis is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to advance the art of jazz through live performance, education and outreach. The organization runs Jazz at the Bistro, considered one of the top ten jazz venues in the United States. Each year, the organisation holds a fundraising gala to support performances and educational outreach. The 2016 gala, “New York, New York”, featured a headline performance by Jon Batiste and Stay Human. Our design for the event’s invitation and program is a contemporary take on classic jazz graphics, using silkscreened neons for the invite and a tone-on-tone bronze foil for the program cover.
The Type Directors Club of New York, Certificate of Typographic Excellence, 2017; Print Magazine, Regional Award, 2017; It’s Nice That article
Based in Detroit, Art Van Furniture is a leading home retailer in the Midwest. We were commissioned to develop the brand identity and packaging for Rise, a new collection of bedding featuring 37.5 technology – a natural fiber that regulates body heat and humidity, originally created for performance apparel and used by brands such as North Face and Adidas. In an exclusive partnership with 37.5, Art Van set out to launch an upscale collection of “performance” bedding that helps active individuals achieve a more perfect sleep environment.
While this collection of 37.5 Tech bedding was the foundation for the new brand, we established a strategy where a greater diversity of products – all related to healthy sleep – could be introduced under the Rise brand name over time. The new brand, with the tag-line “Sleep smart. Live smart.”, represents an intelligent, yet nurturing modern sleep lifestyle. We oversaw all brand development – creating the identity, customer facing messaging, icons to explain the science behind products and packaging. Typography, icons and colors were designed to carefully balance cues of performance along with softer, more comforting cues of good sleep. We developed a brand guide to help the company’s internal design team launch the new brand across different media.
An exhibition of ramen bowls by leading American ceramicists, including Dan Anderson, Linda Christianson, Blair Clemo, Brett Freund, Randy Johnston, Nina Lalli, Beth Lo, Lee Love, Warren MacKenzie, Ron Meyers, Malinda Reich, Suzanne Marie Sullivan and others. Curated by Kiku Obata for Craft Alliance Center for Art and Design.
Exhibition images courtesy of Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design
Base4 Innovation is a Cambridge-based research and development company working to solve some of the most difficult problems in biotechnology – with a particular focus on DNA sequencing. The team includes scientists and engineers with expertise in physics, nanofabrication, optical detection, molecular biology, microfluidics, chemistry, computer science and electrochemistry. Base4 is regularly granted patents for its research, resulting in a valuable portfolio of high-value technologies.
Scientific patents are typically commemorated with traditional, etched brass plaques. We were asked to design a more contemporary take on these plaques that would serve as a way to document Base4’s research over time and recognise the work of each scientist involved. We created a series of wood cubes with the patent information printed on four sides and a brass numeral inlayed on the top face. The addition of the numerals – each using a different typeface – places the patent cubes in chronological order. Solid walnut was chosen as a more timeless counterpoint to the modern mix of typography used, and because Base4’s work and interests are strongly tied to nature.
The cubes are designed to work as single, stand alone pieces when given to individual scientists, and as a larger collection for the company itself. Able to be stacked and assembled in many different ways, the patent cubes work as a set of building blocks, a subtle reference to Base4’s focus on DNA research.
Print Magazine, Regional Award, 2017
Dr. Scholl’s launched the Original Exercise Sandal in 1965. Sold in drugstores as a way to tone legs, the sandal became an iconic 60s fashion accessory when worn by Jean Shrimpton and Twiggy – representing a new, carefree and rebellious way of dressing.
Fifty years later and with recent attention from Marc Jacobs and other fashion labels, Dr. Scholl’s asked us to tell the story behind their iconic sandal and reinvent its modern-day image to be relevant to a more sophisticated fashion audience. To do so, we wanted to convey the brand’s legacy of free-spirited fashion for intelligent rebels. We designed an illustrated booklet that tells the story of the sandal’s origins and the fashionable women who wear the shoes today. The booklet was presented with a series of postcards featuring photographs from the brand’s archives. The booklet cover line, “When does a SANDAL cause a SCANDAL?” was letterpressed on the front-side of the invitation to preview the new collection.
We renamed the collection The Original’s Sandal and created a new brand marque that was silkscreened on shoe bags and used across printed matter. A red running stitch through the booklet and painted red edge on the invitation reference the classic sandal’s red strap. The typography visually expresses the nuances of the writing, playfully bringing to life select words and phrases. Materials and production methods were carefully considered to create a sophisticated yet humble set of objects that reflected the quality and modest origins of this unexpected fashion brand. The design conveys the sandal’s quirky elegance, following tradition, yet breaking with convention.
Design Week Awards, Nomination, 2015.
The former CEO of Ulta Beauty, Lyn Kirby, took the helm of Beauty Brands in 2014 and appointed our studio to lead a major rebranding. We designed the brand’s new identity and retail prototype with the intent of elevating the value-based chain into an upscale, yet accessible beauty destination – focusing on expertise and a sophisticated, modern American beauty sensibility.
A retail and salon concept founded in the mid 1990s, Beauty Brands has been reinvented as a contemporary shop-salon-spa concept focused on bringing together a curated edit of the best independent labels and established brands, as well as offering high-quality beauty treatments across its 60+ stores. We set out to create a natural and intelligent alternative to the statement-making aesthetic offered by competitors while maintaining an essential dose of femininity. The complete system included the brand’s identity, retail and e-commerce packaging, retail signage and graphics, printed matter and art direction for advertising and campaigns, with photography shot by Matthew Sprout. A brand book, introducing the new concept to the industry features original watercolors by illustrator Marcel George.
Our transformation of the retail environment required major alterations to existing locations and the complete design of new stores. The new prototypical design moves the salon-spa to the front of the space alongside the shop (before it was hidden in the back) to showcase its focus on expert treatments on one side of the store, and retail products and experiential feature areas on the other side. New elements introduced into the retail space include the Beauty Bench, a long bar for tutorials and events at the front of the store; a Beauty Concierge for booking treatments; and a series of Beauty Bars for complexion, brows, hair and fragrance – making the store an interactive gathering space where visitors can learn, socialize and experiment.
Clear visibility through the space and maximizing daylight were prioritized to breakdown the large retail space so it feels calm and ordered. The challenge was to create an index of different brands that sat next to one another within a wider environment. We looked at great library precedents, galleries and museums of objects to help us define a balanced, almost curatorial display of multiple brands. The concept can be shopped entirely on one’s own with no need for assistance, but includes many spaces for expert guidance and advice when needed – allowing visitors to tailor the experience to suit their needs.
Natural materials and a warm, light palette reflect the retailer’s sensibility. Contrasting terrazzo floors were used in the shop and salon-spa to differentiate these two areas. A hand-plastered wall in the brand’s signature soft peach color extends the length of the main route and white oak fixtures and screens are used in feature spaces. The natural and light interior invites customers of all ages and presents an understated, yet sophisticated take on modern beauty.
RDI, International Store Design Awards, Outstanding Merit, 2015.
We created a new identity and stationery for Tsuruta Architects. This London-based architecture practice founded by Japanese architect Taro Tsuruta is known for its lightness of touch and focus on materials more than any house style. The practice often uses basic materials and techniques yet executes them in an elegant and minimal manner. A mono typeface is used for the identity because its technical, informational character reflects the architect’s approach and the minimalism of his Japanese heritage, yet doesn’t constrain the practice to a particular style. It also references the type used on the xCNC pieces visible in many of the architect’s buildings.
As a fundraiser for Alzheimer’s Research UK, architect Taro Tsuruta built a bamboo bike by hand and organized a 361-mile, five-day cycling trip from London to Rotterdam and back again. Accompanied by friend and fellow architect Andy, we designed two different t-shirt ‘jerseys’ for the cyclists to wear on their journey. The bright, classic Tour de France yellow shirts explain all aspects of the trip, from the stops along the way to the names of donors, with anecdotes and inside jokes specific to each rider.
This year’s card celebrates the new year with a design based on the annual rotation of the earth around the sun. We came across a special paper that becomes translucent when blind debossed, allowing us to illuminate the card’s celestial map when held to the light.
Block Thirty Seven is a retail development in downtown Chicago, two blocks from Millennium Park and the Art Institute of Chicago. The owners, CIM Group, wanted to raise awareness of its retail tenants among a younger, fashionable audience and appointed us to art direct photography for print and digital campaigns.
Working with photographer Ola Bergengren, we created a series of still life images with products from each retailer. The sets, constructed from paper and everyday materials, reference the modernist constructions of downtown Chicago’s midcentury artists. The images we’re created to be used across a diverse range of media over the course of a year by the client’s in-house team.
Lash Bash is Beauty Brands week-long mascara event that includes sales on best-selling labels and in-store activities and tutorials. We designed the promotional campaign around festival-inspired graphics.
In an effort to revitalize downtown St. Louis, city officials identified four areas for regeneration. The first project implemented was the redevelopment of Washington Avenue, St. Louis’ historic garment district. We were commissioned to study the largely abandoned urban area and develop a design strategy to inform planning. Our recommendations led to the removal of angled parking, the widening of sidewalks and the creation of a pedestrian-friendly streetscape. Leading the design in collaboration with Wallace Roberts & Todd (WRT), our responsibilities included overall concept development, streetscape design, architecture, lighting design and signage.
Washington Avenue features a unique mix of beautiful, late 19th and 20th century brick, stone and terracotta buildings that were in need of revitalization. We took a sensitive approach to contemporary design within this historic environment, establishing guidelines for new retail and the preservation of original buildings. With the help of these guidelines, developers have sensitively converted buildings into residential and commercial lofts with retail on the ground floor. The revitalized street has attracted $4.5 billion in investment and a new generation of loyal residents. It was named one of the Ten Great Streets in America by The American Planning Association in 2011.
Place is the Space marked the beginning of a year-long celebration of the tenth anniversary of CAM’s critically acclaimed building. Featuring five new site-specific commissions by major contemporary artists, the exhibition is an unprecedented curatorial collaboration between the building’s architect, Brad Cloepfil, founding principal of Allied Works Architecture, and Dominic Molon, CAM’s former chief curator.
Each of the five works in Place is the Space responded to different aspects of the structure, including surface, scale, transparency, and boundaries. While demonstrating the building’s unique ability to shape the presentation and experience of contemporary art, the exhibition also examines the larger idea of how various artists address museum spaces as a key element in the development of their work. Artists in the exhibition include: Arocha-Schraenen, Jill Downen, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Virginia Overton and Dominique Petitgand.
Our studio designed the exhibition catalogue which includes essays by Architect Brad Cloephil; Dean of Washington University’s Sam Fox School of Architecture Bruce Lindsey; Architect and Author Robert McCarter, and CAM Chief Curator Dominic Molon.
Following the exhibition, CAM commissioned us to design the identity, invitation and program for its 10th anniversary fundraising gala, “Space for Possibility”. With a brief focused on celebrating the building’s architecture, we developed a graphic of intersecting planes – a feature of the architect’s work – that was debossed and printed at various scales across collateral that included a save-the-date, invitation, poster and program.
We were commissioned to create a long-range Strategic Plan and Redevelopment Blueprint for uptown Mt. Sterling, a rural town of 2,000 located in Brown County, Illinois. Working with citizens and civic groups, we carried out a comprehensive study of the city’s history, built environment and planning, and potential revitalization opportunities.
The Redevelopment Blueprint offers a detailed plan for a phased revitalization over the next twelve years. Covering projects in the public and private sector, it sets out a clear strategy and timeline for improvements to architecture, streetscapes, public spaces, transportation and parking, retail and business development, and community programs. The plan lays out economic development and investment opportunities for eight blocks of downtown.
Rather than take a top-down approach to redevelopment, we helped different community groups organize small initiatives – such as an annual regional fair, farmer’s markets and events to support local retail – so residents had ultimate control over what change took place. We helped the community obtain grants to fund the first series of projects and oversaw the work, including the restoration of the water tower, the preservation of the Post Office’s façade and signage, and lighting of the old Courthouse. Working with Dot Foods, the region’s largest employer, we created a façade grant program; renovated the Hagel building, one of the oldest buildings in town that had long been vacant to create leasable space for a new restaurant; renovated a historic building on Main Street for leasable shell retail units; and designed a new building that houses a small, independent supermarket. These first projects have been instrumental in bringing activity back to the town center, and following their success, a number of local business owners have participated in renovations of other historic buildings along Main Street.
We continue to work with the Mt. Sterling Steering Committee to implement the plan, which will continue over the next decade.
Shakespeare Festival St. Louis produces over 250 public performances each year, including the largest-attended free, outdoor Shakespearean production in the country. The Tempest Ball is the organization’s annual fundraising gala with over 300 guests in attendance. We designed the identity, invitation, signage and space for the event.
Henry IV and V were the Festival’s major productions for the upcoming year. Referencing the Shakespeare’s use of simple contrasts in the two plays, “Rule or Romp” was chosen as the theme for the Ball. The design conveys this idea of doubles and opposing sides, and references the playing card, which originated during the reign of Henry IV.
Sculpture City Saint Louis 2014 was a year-long initiative to draw attention to the presence sculpture has in the landscape of the St. Louis region. Led by Laumeier Sculpture Park in collaboration with regional arts organizations, it brought new ideas to the interpretation and understanding of the works that adorn and define the community. Organized as part of this initiative was Monument/Anti-Monument, an international conference for artists, historians, curators, architects and other experts to share global perspectives on sculpture and its relationship to place.
We created the graphic system for both the year-long initiative and related conference, including a website, conference program, advertisements, posters, postcards, monthly newsletters and film credits. In response to the conference’s inaugural theme, Monument/Anti-Monument, the inverse of St. Louis’ most iconic sculpture, the Arch, was used across posters, stickers and totes distributed at sculpture-related events and exhibitions throughout the city.
Originally intended to end at the end of 2014, the success of the program and a growing response from those within the field helped secure funding to continue the Sculpture City initiative as a long-term community project.