After not having been to Italy in all of my young life, in 2006 I found myself there twice: First in May when we spent some leisurely time in Rome and then Tuscany and again in September when we went to Venice as guests of the über friendly folks at Università Iuav di Venezia’s for their Teachme3: Comunicare l’oggetto conference. We were there to talk about blogs and the vibrancy, immediacy and connectivity they bring to our (and every other) industry. And these three attributes are strong at play this week. Two of the major Italian design blogs — designerblog and SocialDesignZine — are wildly hosting the discontent of the Italian design community (click on the em-dashed links) immediately after Premier Romano Prodi and Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli unveiled the new logo this past Wednesday.
There might be some elements lost in translation here, but I’ll try to explain as best as I can what I’ve learned about this new identity for Italy.
1. It was designed by Landor Italy.
2. Apparently, they were the winners of a contest with over 60 entries.
3. The identity will be mostly used in its two-letter configuration of it. (A smart move considering that their top-level domain is .it).
4. Said configuration enables the presence of red, white and green, the colors of the Italian flag. Although as pointed out in designerblog, the flag reads inversely: green first, white and then red.
5. The green shape is meant to convey “movement, flexibility and imagination”. Another meaning behind the green shape is to “strengthen the image of a country rich in natural beauty”.
6. The black (Bodoni?) i is meant to stand for “traditional” and “classic”.
7. Point 7 here was not necessarily part of the briefing but, yes, the logo uses at least 4 different fonts, none of which should be used together in a six-letter word.
And I’m sure there is a lot more where that came from. Now, as I mentioned, I was in Italy for a total of nearly 18 days last year and I bring this up not because I want to brag about my limited world travels but because I feel I can express the disconnect between what I saw in those trips and what is presented in this identity. In theory, as a tourist, I’m one of the key target audiences for this identity and if someone had pulled me into a focus group for this one, they would have gotten their $75.00 worth. Italy is a country rich with layers of textures, sights, flavors and smells, none of which feel, look, taste or smell like this new identity; Italy does not feel like a Karim Rashid salt shaker. Italy does not feel like incorrect and childish letters that change between upper and lower case for no apparent reason. Italy does not look like a jalapeño pepper. Italy is not a cold sans serif. Italy is everything that this logo is not. Including sense of humor. Antonio Moro swiftly parodies the new logo (I took the liberty of translating his captions):
Alora…If it’s not good enough for Italian designers, it’s not good enough for me.