Founded in 1985 by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Professor Nicholas Negroponte and former MIT President Jerome Wiesner in an I.M. Pei-designed building, the MIT Media Lab is one of the world’s most renown research and development centers. Funded by corporate sponsorship, the Media Lab counted with a $26 million budget in 2009 – 10 and served 138 graduate students and 28 faculty and principal investigators. “Unconstrained by traditional disciplines, Lab designers, engineers, artists, and scientists work atelier-style in close to 30 research groups conducting more than 400 projects that range from neuroengineering, to how children learn, to developing the city car of the future.” Inspired by the facility’s expansion in 2010, which “manifests the spirit of transparency, mutual inspiration and collaboration” this new logo designed in collaboration by E Roon Kang and TheGreenEyl was recently introduced.
The new visual identity of the MIT Media Lab is inspired by the community it comprises: Highly creative people from all kinds of backgrounds come together, inspire each other and collaboratively develop a vision of the future.
This unique offering of the MIT Media Lab is reflected in the logo design. Each of the three shapes stands for one individual’s contribution, the resulting shape represents the outcome of this process: A constant redefinition of what media and technology means today.The logo is based on a visual system, an algorithm that produces a unique logo for each person, for faculty, staff and students. […] A custom web interface was developed to allow each person at the Media Lab to choose and claim an own individual logo for his/her business card, as well as a custom animation so?ware which allows to create custom animations for any video content the lab produces.
— TheGreenEyl Project Page
Relative to what we all understand to be a good logo — one that is aesthetically pleasing and that somewhat efficiently communicates a particular aspect of a product, service, or organization — this logo is not good. Except that, well, it is. It is very good. The three squares don’t really mean much, the gradients are fairly gratuitous, and the final compositions are all awkward. But as a representation of this mythical place where magic happens and where we imagine herds of nerds of the highest caliber working away on things most of us will never understand (unless they are bundled nicely like the Media Lab’s One Laptop Per Child) this is perfect. It’s unexpected and distinct, and it oozes as much science cred as a logo is able to do.
What’s also interesting is that the logo doesn’t have to “sell” the Media Lab, it sells itself. So the pressure on the identity to be consumer-friendly is minimal, it should simply act like the Lab itself. I wouldn’t want that logo on my business card, but if I were a sponsor putting in millions of dollars, I wouldn’t mind it being handed to me on a business card by one of them nerds.