Established in 1947, Design Academy Eindhoven, one of the Netherland’s most prestigious design schools — Tord Boontje is among its celebrated alumni — has recently debuted its new multi-versioned identity. The structure is based on an abstracted “E” and is the framework for infinite iterations of the school’s name and messaging, most created by the students and faculty themselves.
The new identity, by The Stone Twins Amsterdam, functions more as a system than a single logo. The limitless variations keep the identity fresh, while audience participation fosters strong brand attachment.
The previous wordmark, typeset in Arial (yes, Arial), did not communicate much about the school. The new identity does the opposite. Its handwritten messages are personal and authentic. This focus on creative expression will undoubtedly appeal to incoming students.
The combination of the simple, heavy frame, contrasted with fluid handwriting, feels undeniably Dutch. The structure feels almost Mondrian-esque (I know, cliché Dutch reference, but nonetheless accurate).
A system with this many visual expressions is bound to have some less successful ones. The versions that feature the name of the institution, in particular, can be a challenge. When used as a script, Eindhoven’s nine characters border on the illegible, and are dwarfed by the heavy frame. By contrast, the caps version works well. The short-worded taglines, like “Dare to dream” or “Kiss the future,” are its most successful executions. Fortunately, with an open system the school will have the opportunity to continue to improve the mark. Over time, the less successful solutions will fall by the wayside.
This new focus on creative interpretation is reinforced by the brand’s quirky introduction videos. The sample above is my favorite. Local passersby are heard guessing the frame’s meaning incorrectly in Dutch, while the English captions cheekily describe the new system in flattering detail. While one woman says, “I think it looks like a window” the caption along the bottom reads, “The centerpiece of a unique brand architecture.” The spirit of the video is in keeping with the identity: a new type of logo for a new audience.
Overall, the new identity is compelling. While a large system like this can be difficult to maintain, the fresh look and new creative focus more than make up for it. The school looks like it should — fun, lighthearted, and most importantly, creative.