Organized first in 2006, San Francisco Design Week (SFDW) is a “week of events highlighting the diversity and professionalism of the design community around the bay” led by the San Francisco chapter of AIGA in partnership with Adobe and the local chapters of the the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), the Interaction Design Association (IxDA), and the Society for Environmental Graphic Design (SEGD). Its goal is to “raise public awareness of the impact that all design-graphic, product, interior, fashion, architecture, advertising, et cetera-has in the San Francisco Bay Area.” We reported on the event’s identity last year. This year, AIGA SF worked with Manual to design a logo that would be established as a consistent mark for all future SFDW events as well as the creative campaign for this year’s edition, which kicks off today.
When approaching the logo design, we looked to steer clear of any obvious visual clichés associated with San Francisco. Hills, fog, bridges, cable cars had all been done in previous years campaigns, and we felt it unnecessary. It was more important to us to create a strong typographic logo than could stand on its own. Much like other design week identities for other international cities such as London Design Festival, and Tokyo Design week.
The resulting logo was based upon a very abstract influence: We were initially looking at the rows of houses set in hillsides of San Francisco and noticed the layered, terraced visual appearance. Two words also came up when assessing and interpreting any meaning within logo: “highlighting” and “emerging.” While these are arguably tenuous links to Design Week, the ideas of “highlighting” design, and designers “emerging” (various design studios opening their doors to the public for studio tours) seemed appropriate. But really this was internal rationalization — the fact is, the AIGA felt it was simply a strong mark.
— Commentary from Tom Crabtree, Creative Director of Manual
I like the idea of creating a logo that establishes a consistent link from year to year, serving as the endorser mark of the event more than the leading visual element. The resulting logo is a simple typographic execution that, surprisingly, manages to capture a feel for the city. When I first saw it I thought of the effect that walking up a hill has, where you only see the tops of the building on the block ahead and I also thought it was another way of portraying fog, last year’s inspiration, where things are only partially visible. My only complaint would be about the font and style chosen — slightly too generic and perhaps not bold enough to fill in the bars better; it also looks as if the spacing to the right of each word is smaller than to its left. Nonetheless, it’s a strong anchor to allow each year’s campaign to be its own thing.
For the marketing communications, we set out to visualize design in the context of San Francisco. We attempted to capture, in a series of images, the various disciplines of design in SF. Rather than focus on design as a finished state, we explored the idea of design as an ongoing process of exploration, inspiration, and application of technique.
Borrowing materials and samples from various SF design studios (FuseProject, Ammunition, IwamotoScott Architecture, Mike & Maaike to name a few) we chose to celebrate the ad hoc “stuff” of design and elevate its status by having it photographed it in a very polished style. The unfinished nature of the materials, and the sophisticated visual execution provided an interesting visual relationship. Continuing the use of the acronym SFDW from previous years, we designed a set of custom typographic tiles which we had laser cut from wood, and incorporated these into the photographic diorama. Quite different in style from the San Francisco Design Week logo we had designed.
The campaign for this year — with hero photography by Michael O’Neal — has a remarkable contrast with the high-end gloss depiction of rudimentary design stuff. It’s amazing how you can elevate anything with the right amount of sexy lighting and backdrops. I love the concept of creating this little world of design minutia and elevating it to what many hope their work is seen as: if not art, at least something worth paying attention to. The other great element on the campaign is the set of laser-cut tiles with the initials of the event; cool and abstract and also indicative of the kind of diversity that SFDW tries to promote. Overall, it’s a great look to get local designers and the general public excited about the event.