Fashioning Architecture Weighs in on Brand as Place

This is the first guest post on my blog. Recently, you might have noticed my series on the branding of spaces and places. I thought it fitting to have the perspective of a student of space weigh in here and offer some insights from someone less obsessed with the graphic articulation of complexity and more obsessed with the origins of much of that complexity. I have long been a fan of architecture, but still have much to learn. Thank you to Miss Bozzi over at fashioning architecture for her myriad perspectives and for being a constant source of inspiration. I hope to publish many more of our long evening discussions in the future as I find they keep me grounded and help me to find a balance. Enjoy and thanks again!

When Foster first started this branding series, I was inspired. And then he asked me to write a guest post about branding, specifically branding of cities/countries, from an architectural perspective, and I was honored.

Right off the bat without much research into the topic, I really question if architecture can be branding? Does architecture need to be branded? Why do we need logos and typefaces for cities if the space can brand itself?

But then on the other hand, ‘architectural branding’ has become the new buzzword of the architectural industry in the last decades and rightfully so, since architecture becomes an expression of the newly developed experiential brands. Despite our increasingly virtual world, we still need physical buildings to establish personal relationships with brands and architecture plays a vital role in this equation by not only confining customer experience, but defining it, which is more than any brand can do. I really question the ideology that architectural branding adds significant value. And I am still waiting for a good reason for why architecture itself can’t brand the cities.

Take a look at skylines. I think that you could probably guess which planning committees in the United States use their skyline as a branding form. In some cases the city skyline is a brand. When I look at the silhouette of Seattle, I know right away, “oh hey, that’s the space needle!”  And when I see the Washington Monument peering up, I immediately think “oh hey, that is Washington D.C.!” The proof is in the pudding and the postcards.

Seattle
Iconic Space Needle in Seattle
The District's Obelisk
The District of Columbia’s Obelisk

To be more critical, I really have to examine architecture at a human scale, not from the vantage of a hot air balloon. When you look at a downtown skyline, there is no sense of what the city really feels like, what culture is like, or the people who live there. What about cities that do not have a memorable skyline? What goes on their postcard?

I recently became fascinated with how the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao was constructed as part of a revitalization effort for the city. It turns out that the Bilbao, as it has come to be known, has defined the new cultural position of the city because people come from all over the world to see Frank Gehry’s design.  In a way, the museum has transformed the city and made way for gentrification in the surrounding areas. Although the success of this single piece of architecture constructed in a run-down environment is remarkable, I am left wondering what would Bilbao be like if Frank Gehry hadn’t been commissioned.

The Guggenheim Bilbao
The Guggenheim Bilbao by Frank Gehry

The Guggenheim Museum was supposed to create a new image of the city in an effort to attract development. Since the city’s decisions did attract this outside development, it is now deemed successful. When people visit the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao they leave in awe of Frank Gehry’s Decontructivist work, but are they fascinated by the city and the people of Bilbao? In fact, in Chicago, you can experience a piece of Bilbao at Frank Gehry’s Pritzker Pavilion. Ironic. Or you can go to the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and experience Bilbao. In the end, are all these little pieces of Bilbao spread throughout the world, in fact, pieces of the brand of Gehry?

Image links:

Seattle’s Space Needle: http://www.visitingdc.com/picture/seattle-skyline-picture.asp

D.C. :  http://blogs.state.gov/index.php/site/entry/young_legislative_fellows_dc

Guggenheim: http://www.guggenheim.org/bilbao

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Vladimir: Transforming Russia, One City at a Time: Khramov

Kursk
Kursk: Case One

From the city of Samara in Russia, Vladimir Khramov has set himself and his studio Stilistica.ru ahead of the curve with its positioning of cities. Bridging the gaps between graphic design and architecture to create unique and powerful brands, Vladimir’s work is about the experience of form. We are confronted with a city’s physicality in his work as well as its unique story, a rare experience, but one often felt when visiting an urban area. Vladimir’s thoughtful exploration of line, texture, and dimension gives a viewer the chance to experience not just a city but also the history of a place through space in the form of a marque and its range of applications. Keep a close eye on Vladimir and his work as it is representative of something new and something distinctly Russian. In today’s global world, Russia is a powerhouse of design, music, and luxury. Branding happens here. Russia is repositioning itself not just as a place and culture, but also in the world of design. Vladimir’s work provides beautiful evidence of this fact.

Kursk Applications
Kursk Applications
Kursk Progression
Kursk Progression
Kursk: Progression
Kursk: Progression

Another Body of Work for Kursk.

Kursk Case Two
Kursk Case Two

For the city of Samara.

Samara: Explanations
Samara: Explanations
Samara: Map
Samara: Map
Samara marque
Samara marque
Studies
Studies
Samara Brand
Samara Brand
Brand Pin
Brand Pin
Marque Variations
Marque Variations
Samara shirts
Samara shirts
Marque Application
Marque Application
Samara applications
Samara applications
Samara Application
Samara Application
Samara at Night
Samara at Night
Samara Buildings, Travel
Samara Buildings, Travel
Samara Theatre and Arts
Samara Theatre and Arts

The Bahamas c/o Duffy & Partners & Co.

Bahamas Marque
Bringing Together Distance and Diversity through Design

“Every island in the Bahamas needed to be represented and their independent personalities expressed within the overall message. The graphic design solution of the Bahamas identity was the foundation that brought the Bahamian islands a common message that could be broken into differential parts as needed.”

–Bart Cleveland, Adage.com

In 2008, I had the uncommon experience of seeing and meeting the indubitable Mr. Duffy for the first time as a student at SCAD. I watched his presentation, listened to his thoughtful careful words and viewed his breathtaking work with hungry eyes. This chapter meeting of the AIGA in Jacksonville was what graphic design was supposed to be all about. But what was this word ‘branding’? What did it take to ‘brand’ an island chain as disparate and uncommon as the Bahamas? There were so many of them. They all had their own unique characteristics, culture, music, food. And yet, they were all politically and economically connected. Much like any other place. Is it even possible to ‘brand’ something as ephemeral and meaning-packed as a place?

Duffy and Partners work, in cooperation with Fallon Worldwide, raises many questions about place. How do we define ourselves as part of a nation? Can we describe the process of what it takes to become a Floridian, an Ohioan, a Cincinnatian, a New Yorker, a Madrider, a Havanite? What do these places mean to us? What does it mean to grow up there? To eat there every day? To work there? To sleep there?

Think on all these questions and then attempt to think about how the people in the city 50 miles away might answer them. How are they related? Is there some common or shared experience? Now think if this place, this city were an island separated by many dozens of miles of water. These are not just tangible, physical challenges, but problems of identity and boundary, politic and economy. These are the things that make us similar and at the same time, make us alike as humans. The best solution is part of Duffy’s holistic approach to branding. Go there. Meet the people. Listen to them. Allow them to provide the solutions. Allow the work to flow from what they say, what they do, how they do it, and who they are as people and citizens and brand ‘partners.’

Setting the mood of the Bahamas
Setting the mood of the Bahamas

In commercial art, we are often presented with a client and a communication problem whose undertaking may seem impossible. Bringing together so many islands in the Bahamas might have seemed that way on first glance. Patience and the open minds of thinking designers proved different. Here is some of the evidence. However, I highly recommend Duffy’s Book, A Brand Apart, for a more complete and wholesome elucidation.

Bahamas Patterns
Bahamas Patterns
Range of Materials
Range of Bahamas Materials
Full range of islands
Full range of islands

Dubai: Space is Place

Dubai-Ski
Dubai-Ski – Polar Bear of the Desert

Dubai. Everyone knows its iconic buildings. Most have seen the transformations done to the physical topography. Many know the names of hotels there though they might not have been. Perhaps Dubai is itself the brand. The first city of its kind, born in an era of sophisticated branding and communication techniques the likes of which the world hadn’t yet seen. Taking the ideas Las Vegas has made popular in accounts like Thompson’s Fear and Loathing to a level that could make Buckminster Fuller and Salvador Dali blush together and hold hands–Dubai is perhaps the world’s only complete example of ‘place as brand.’ The region was created for a singular, commercial, and opulent purpose. The architecture speaks for itself in this Emirate of Dubai. The buildings are perhaps the only ‘brand’ the city will ever need. In today’s day and age, it might be more prudent to think forward in this fashion since the days of Rand’s 50-year logos are dead and gone. Though the bubble might have burst for now is Dubai, a brand? Or a place?

The Palm
The Palm
Dubai
Dubai
Koju Trading
The rich calligraphy of Koju Trading
Pharco
Pharco
Dubai Towers
Dubai Towers
Dubai Tourism
Dubai Tourism
Dubai World Central
Dubai World Central
The World
The World
Dubai Advertising Award
Dubai Advertising Award
Dubai Trade
Dubai Trade
Burj Al Arab Hotel
Burj Al Arab Hotel
Dubai Caledonian Society
A marque for the Scottish in Dubai
Avari_Dubai_Hotel
Avari_Dubai_Hotel
Dubai First
Dubai First
Marques as Motion
Marques as Motion
Dubai Airports
Dubai Airports
Dubai Calendar
Dubai Calendar
Icon Hotel
Icon Hotel

 

Aswaaq Supermarkets
Aswaaq Supermarkets
O-14 Commercial Tower
O-14 Commercial Tower
The Water Discus Hotel
The Water Discus Hotel
Masterplan
Masterplan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

100% Pure New Zealand

Pictures say 1000 words, especially when they move and sing.

Go to their YouTube Channel to immerse yourself in the experience of New Zealand and the work created. Something to keep in mind is not only the word New Zealand, but also the sophisticated and subtle use of the island as a punctuation mark in the 100% Pure New Zealand marque. The island chain becames an inescapable piece of the brand pie and is even seen in Somo’s distinctive Tourism Export Council marque. Though it doesn’t have the same brand power and punch as the 100% Pure New Zealand campaign, the form of the islands are too bold to ignore when working for anything tourist related.

Stay tuned for more New Zealand and after, more locational branding.

New Zealand and the Origins of Tourism Branding

The World Travel Awards recently voted New Zealand Australasia’s leading Tourist Board for the third year running. Its iconic 100% Pure New Zealand campaign will compete against the other regional winners from around the world on December 12th for World’s Strongest Brand. (See here for whole story.)

What most don’t know is that New Zealand is also responsible for the world’s first government tourist board with its Department of Tourist and Health Resorts, est. 1901. I recently ran into an article on these origins by Peter Alsop about his book, Selling the Dream: The Art of Early New Zealand Tourism. The author makes comparisons to the age of the Internet and globalism which highlight the bravery of what this great nation accomplished with its ‘Railway Studios.’ For the full synopsis and some of the author’s revelations, read this article from Idealog.

I not only learned something new today about New Zealand, but also have made the connection that for New Zealanders, tourism and branding are a way of life. The people are known for their hospitality and kindness as well as the scenic beauty of their island abode. It now makes sense to me that an incredibly sophisticated and tech-savvy industry has developed in this nation to bring those valuable economic boosters we call tourists. In this age of globalism and in the afternoon delight of the world traveler, New Zealand was once and remains today a positive force on the World Branding Stage.

More intriguing are some of the brands that spring up in New Zealand. Many fully embrace their physical origins. It is as if the entire nation retains this culture of branding and fully embraces it not only as a people but also as a resource for spreading the good word about their products and their nation. Stay tuned for more on this subject…