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Project: California Academy of Sciences


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Project: California Academy of Sciences

(Music playing) Kit Hinrichs: Being in San Francisco, there is this wonderful California Academy of Sciences, which we were asked about a year-and-a- half ago to create an identity for them, which then continued not only from the outside, for the identity for all of emotional pieces, but also inside.

When the Academy came to us, they had hired Renzo Piano to be able to put this absolutely fabulous building in the middle of Golden Gate park. It's where the old academy had been for 150 years, so it's a very strong tradition in San Francisco to have this thing. When we were creating the identity itself, it was like how do you create something that is unique to the place and still has kind of presence, not just another abstract symbol? So when we saw the plans for this and we saw the wonderful curve that you see within the atrium here and that also is reflective in all of the other hills on the roof, we thought "Why don't we take that particular form, replicate it again and again, and be able to create a symbol based on that." It's in three different colors. Each one represents a different aspect of the museum and it used to be marketed as three different groups and now they want it to be brought together as the California Academy of Sciences.

Then we did all of the promotion pieces for them, as it went forward, I mean, virtually every thing that identified the academy along the way. Laura, who is one of our associate partners who was here, who is now gone on to London, was very instrumental in putting this whole symboling program together. The building was underway when they engaged us and the director had just been brought on, so it was a relatively short period of time, but he wanted to have a modern clean symbol. He wanted it to represent all the different complexities of this place, but understanding all of this is about life. And so we thought that this symbol that we're creating for this is also about life. And so its somewhat radiant aspect - kind of sun aspect of it - also represents that as a source for all things.

This will be a successful place if there wasn't a single symbol on the outside and there was just a word on it. At the same time, what we do in setting up the typographic system, creating a new identify and entirely new communications program is what talks about the space and the experience you are going to have. Then when you come here, it's realized because everything has been put together so nicely. One of the things, since we were not going to be involved in creating the exhibitions themselves, but had some limited corporate exposure there, they asked us to do the Donor Wall. We kept thinking, because they something like 300 individual scientists there who were doing things, that as you go in and you pull out drawers, it's just like pulling out all these specimen drawers with all these things in it.

So we thought if we could do the same thing as turning a specimen drawer vertically, putting it on the wall, the rarity of the object that is being shown would designate the amount of money that you had donated. So there are fewer butterflies, because they are five or ten million dollars. Then there are poppies. An interesting thing, when we started doing this, was that - we thought, "Well, it would only - it would stop here," because that was the number of heavy donors that they had done. But then as people started to see what this could be, then that got to extending it on the other side because of more people who joined.

It's been very effective. We've loved doing it and we love being able to make something that is really unique and celebrate the donors who have been part of it.

Project: California Academy of Sciences
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Project: California Academy of Sciences provides you with in-depth training on Design. Taught by Kit Hinrichs as part of the Creative Inspirations: Kit Hinrichs, Graphic Designer

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