Expressive ever-changing visual identity for OCAD University

From rectangle to square – Evolving and ever-changing, Canada’s University of the Imagination, OCAD University, has launched it’s visual identity.

After being part of the consultation process and committee, I am definitely excited about the final result. As a proud OCAD University graphic design student, this launch is something I have been looking forward to for the last several months.

OCAD University wanted a new visual identity to “reflect the path of a 135-year-old institution moving quickly into the future.” Bruce Mau Design – the Toronto-based studio that also created the identity of the AGO amongst others – spent many months and countless hours of consultation with students, alumni, faculty and staff before arriving at their final design.

The BMD team facilitated interviews, designing multiple workshops, disseminating questionnaires, leading classroom discussions, and I had the chance to help with the social media connections – the overall goal being to capture the spirit of OCAD U.

But what a challenge – to design for an art and design school! Bruce Mau Design asked themselves, ‘can the visual identity reveal the extraordinary creative energy that lives at OCAD U?’ Here is how they describe the result:

Inspired by the iconic and transformational Alsop-designed building, BMD “created a base of black and white pixel ‘windows’” which are meant to be frames to hold actual student work. It is through these ‘windows’ that we see the core of OCAD U that is often hidden from view – conceptually strong, diverse, and compelling. This is a dynamic and modular identity where every year, graduating student medal winners will be invited to contribute to the logo within the basic window framework, providing a set of logos for that year. As OCAD U grows and matures, a living library of identities will necessarily emerge, recording the ideas and aesthetics that have shaped our culture over time.

If you’re thinking that the black squares look familiar, they were inspired by the architecture of OCAD U (the Sharp Centre for Design by Will Alsop). They created a “base of black and white pixel ‘windows’” which are also frames to hold actual student work.

Here is a video created by the design studio with the university to express and explain the exciting new identity:

I am most inspired by the openness and inclusiveness of the ever-changing design: the ability to add new pieces of artwork and design within the fixed square of the logo. This will express the diversity of our university and allow it to stay fresh.

It was an incredible experience to be part of the process, and I thank both Bruce Mau Design and the OCAD University Marketing & Communications department for the opportunity.

Visit the OCAD University Visual Identity page or the Bruce Mau Design article.

Update: My favourite branding design blog has posted their review on the new brand! Read the post on Under Consideration’s Brand New here.

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