Ravensbourne

Our task, with both words and pictures, was to find a way to reposition the institution externally whilst bringing the internal community on board. At the same time we were pitching their positioning into the future and reflecting all of this with an identity change.

After six months in discussion and research, we had agreed the words they wanted to use to describe themselves, and we could begin the design process. For a while we tried to ignore what was in front of our noses. But fairly soon that seemed a little pointless. Following the tessellating patterns of Roger Penrose, the visual statement of the tiles was too powerful to ignore. The fact that, from just three shapes, so many permutations were possible, seemed to nicely echo the education process.

We started experimenting with the institution's name thrown at angles through the tiles, originally neatly linking together. But we discovered that by slightly rotating the tiles, we could create a sense of movement and restlessness that seemed to fit well with the college's future ambitions. From countless permutations, we settled on half a dozen examples, in both colour and black and white.

At the first audit stages of the project, we realised that Ravensbourne, like many other design institutions, struggled to make their images and photos of students and student projects particularly unique.

Every library, every computer shot seemed the same, especially after you've looked through a handful of prospectuses. So we developed a way to take the tiling pattern and incorporate it into student photographs that we commissioned.

Almost overnight, they gained an identity approach to logos, typography and images that could ‘glue' together elements such as folders, reports and prospectuses, and has been applied extensively online.

Here's a little bit of ‘future-gazing' as we imagine the kind of imagery and applications that could be used to extend the identity idea.

As the new building took shape and we attended the first of many site visits, it quickly became apparent that signage and wayfinding would prove critical to the building's success, as a viable work-and-play-place. Producing over-sized aluminium logos was one part of this challenge.

Because of the slightly confusing interior architecture of the building, we opted to use vast painted and stenciled shapes derived from the tiling pattern. These incorporated large floor numerals to make it clear to visitors exactly where they were at any stage of their visit.

There’s a more in-depth write-up of the signage aspect of this project here, if you’d like to find out more.