Established in 1930 in Pasadena, CA, ArtCenter (or ArtCenter College of Design for long) is a private, nonprofit college — granted Non-Governmental Organization status by the UN Department of Public Information in 2003 — focusing on art and design. ArtCenter offers eleven undergraduate and seven graduate degrees to approximately 2,000 students with a full-time faculty of 102 and a part-time faculty of 331. This July ArtCenter introduced a “revised and clarified” identity. No design credit given.
A revised and clarified ArtCenter identity system was introduced in July 2015.
This identity takes elements that have been associated with ArtCenter over its 85-year history and remixes them in a way that provides flexibility in application and a strong and contemporary visual presence in print, in environmental applications and online.
The name of the college is written “ArtCenter” or “ArtCenter College of Design” with a capital “A” and “C” and no space between Art and Center, in running text as well as when the name stands alone. This more unique construction helps differentiate ArtCenter from other “art centers” and enables more relevant online search results, among other benefits.
Visually, the goal of the graphic identity is to communicate both the essential character of ArtCenter and the idea of design itself through the bold use of elemental form, color and typography.
In the brief history section of this handsome identity microsite, ArtCenter admits that its identity has been anything but consistent other than having a dot that is sometimes orange, sometimes really orange, and sometimes less orange. Its typography has fluctuated between Helvetica, Futura, and Univers. It’s lock-ups are all over the place. Tightening the two very basic elements of the identity, ArtCenter has done a great job in verbalizing and visualizing a new, standard yet flexible way to use them, without resorting to a full-on redesign that will have people complaining.
The most visible change is the size of the dot: bigger. Approved. The wordmark has been changed from Univers to Neue Haas Grotesk — which, if you are going to use an Helvetica, this is the one. Another point in its favor. From there, things are kept fairly flexible and un-lock-up-ed, with both elements working independently (yet together) to establish the identity.
This isn’t a groundbreaking identity nor does it ooze creative-ness, a common complaint since the expectation is that design schools’ own identities should look like all the winners of a design annual blended together. Plenty of companies and institutions have laid claim to the circle as their logo so that’s nothing new either but here there is a history and precedent in the school’s existence and the circle isn’t presented as an over-the-top concept, it just serves as an identifier. Overall, this is a simple and well thought out system that gives ArtCenter a vivid Californian presence while retaining a scholarly feel.
Thanks to Andy Liang for the tip.