Tuesday, 3 January 2017

OUGD601 - Liquid Identities/Liquid Modernism

In the contemporary moment, visual identities, in particular, logo design is a flexible affair. Gone are the days when the humble logo-type or iconic logo would suffice as the main visual component representing a brand, product or cause. These are commonly known in the field as 'flexible identities'.

There has been a growing interest in flexible visual identities in the last ten years, with lots of design studios starting to abandon the idea of the logo as the centrepiece of a visual identity, instead dedicating their practices to the development of visual systems. These visual systems are coherent yet eclectic and excitingly diverse, ultimately challenging the conventions of Modernist identity design. 

Some call them ‘dynamic identities’, some ‘liquid’ or ‘fluid’ identities (referring to Zygmunt Bauman’s term ‘liquid modernity’). Further, ‘generative’, ‘responsive’, ‘evolutive’ or ‘living’ are all terms used to describe flexible visual identities. What all these terms have in common is an attempt to describe flexible visual identity as the opposite of the static visual identity, based on a static logo design.

For me, liquid identities are representative of the current condition in graphic design practice. They reflect an urge to be experimental whilst functional, intersecting the avenues of modernist and postmodernist mindsets. That is to say, these identities aren't without their restrictions, as all successful identities usually are. However, the restricts allow for more freedom, as they aren't as strict as say the brand guidelines for a huge, international sportswear brand.

A good example of this can be seen in the visual identity for the 2015 Beijing Design Week.
The design for the Beijing Design Week 2015 is based on a few visual elements and their ability to be transformed, stretched or jolted. It is a closed system because the elements are pre-defined, no new elements can be added. The elements and their ability to stretch or jolt and the various ways how the visual system can be applied to different items makes the VI flexible. 

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Another great example is the identity for MK Gallery, designed by Sara Dabont. This identity involves a logotype comprised of six distinctly different typefaces. The logo is displayed as an independent GIF which demonstrates its liquid state well. On the gallery website, the logo can be found at the top left-hand corner. Each time the page is 'refreshed', the logo changes, subtly revealing its liquid quality to the user of the site. 

Full article - https://www.grafik.net/category/feature/flexi-time

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