PHOTOSHOP, ILLUSTRATOR. FALL 2018.
During my freshman fall at MIT I was fortunate to be able to work with MIT Climate to design their new logo. MIT Climate is an initiative to connect scientists across the world through a shared concern for the rapid progression of global warming and climate change. It was thus a great honour for me to be able to create a logo that integrated MIT's rich culture of innovation and engineering with the modern challenges posed by environmental changes, all the while remaining true to both MIT's and MIT Climates' specific branding.
It was also an interesting challenge for me personally, as it was the first time that I had been tasked with designing a professional logo in Adobe Illustrator, and I learnt a lot over the course of the project. Not only did I have the opportunity to gain more experience with software I had previously only used sparingly, but also in collaborating with a client and working together with them to create a final product that they would be proud to identify with.
Original Design and Application
"The most beautiful thing in the world is, of course, the world itself." When Wallace Stevens said this, a man-made climate disaster was inconceivable. Today, the IPCC reported from South Korea that we are headed towards raising the global average temperature by twice the goal set by the Paris Climate Agreements. Global warming and climate change have been facts for decades, yet now, a catastrophe within the next decades seems inescapable. The damage already done, irrevocable.
As an MIT student, I am surrounded every day by intelligent, passionate people. I hope that MIT Climate will be able to channel that effort and dedication to guide legislation, to inspire innovation, and to promote education. I hope that, with this logo, I will be able to provide some small contribution.
Logo Design Rationale:
My design is inspired by MIT Climate’s dedication to community, cooperation, and engagement. The globe is the heart of the logo, with a focus on Antarctica as it looks today, as a representation of the importance of maintaining the integrity of the ice caps and of the preservation of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Antarctica is also an important geographic entity as it is not subject to the jurisdiction of a single country, but of many, just as stopping climate change is the responsibility of all countries. The viewpoint is also intended to recall the United Nations emblem, and its commitment to making the world a better place. The silhouette of the logo is that of a gear. Human figures provide the negative space of the teeth. Thus, seen from afar, the logo reflects MIT’s technological culture. Moreover, gears work collaboratively, just as the solution to climate change will be a collaboration. On closer inspection, however, the human elements of the logo are revealed. Scientists, laymen, students — we’re all involved in protecting our planet, and we are not only parts of, but integral to, the solution. We work together to learn and to problem-solve. Hence, we form the gear that drives progress. I chose the colours to be a gradient from green to blue to match the graphic identity MIT Climate already has. Moreover, blues and greens are symbolic of sustainability and hope, which I believe MIT Climate can, by educating, and encouraging climate awareness and engagement, most certainly provide.
My proposal was chosen for the logo, and I collaborated with the MIT Climate team to produce an icon which corresponded with their existing design language and vision. One of the primary focuses of the redesign was removing complexity and cleaning up the most distinctive elements.
Since we decided to remove the people and have more simple gears, one of the first things I did was to actually draw out the gear in Rhino, along with the semicircular elements I would need for the colour patterns.
Experimental design iterations
One of the primary changes was the use of the world map in place of Antarctica, which is unfortunately not a very recognisable continent. I also experimented with different distributions of visual elements, including extrusion beyond the borders of the central sphere, and different levels of noise and detail in the map.
To the left are a number of colour options I provided for the final design. While the many colours present in the initial design lent themselves well to the illusion of transparency and overlapping elements, it would be easier to implement as a logo, as well as being more graphically bold, if there were a more restricted colour scheme.
I also presented a series of font options in different weights for scrutiny alongside the black and white logo. We also had to adhere to MIT's own design principles. Reading through and applying the information given in a design brief was both an interesting and first-time experience.
Speaking of which, the black and white version of the design also went through a couple of interesting iterations, including one version where I removed the gears on one half because they were offsetting the balance of complexity in the logo. I quickly rescinded it when it had the unfortunate consequence of setting the design even more off balance.