SPACE10 – Interview on new visual identity

SPACE10 published a microsite to clarify the principles behind their new visual identity.

Usually a brand seeks a unique, memorable visual expression to ensure it's easily recognisable and stands out in the crowd. The visual identity of SPACE10 does quite the opposite. The designers have worked with great design studios (Norgram Studio, Barkas, DIA Studio and Wang & Söderström) on evolving our visual identity, yet they have strived for the end result to be as neutral, adaptable and democratic as possible. And that is exactly the point. SPACE10 is an interface for innovation. They strive to surround ourselves with people who are smarter than them. To enable collaboration, their visual identity must be accessible for anyone, anywhere: a solid foundation that doesn’t define a destination, but encourages experimentation and creativity. 
To explain the thinking behind the approach, the designers published an interview on with Creative Director of SPACE10, Bas van de Poel, and Mitsuko Sato, SPACE10’s Visual Design Lead, where they explain their thoughts designing a visual identity in a time where visual culture progresses extremely fast, and visual identities outdate faster than ever.

24.09 2020


Kinetic Typography — DIA

How do you try to reflect the values of SPACE10 and its mission in the process of creating its visual identity?

Mitsuko: We hope the visual identity can be a springboard for innovative thinking, and that people will be able to use it as a tool with which they can envision great ideas. Those great ideas can then aid in our mission of trying to create a better everyday life for people and the planet.

Bas: Our identity doesn’t try to outshine or shout over anyone. It’s really about highlighting the research and design projects we do in collaboration with others. We have this saying at SPACE10: “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” What we’re hoping to achieve with the work we do is to engage a larger community in our mission. It’s a big, bold mission and we’re very aware that we wouldn’t be able to accomplish it on our own — so the more people join us, the better.

We have the same approach when developing our identity. For example, we’re not kinetic typography experts, so that’s why we work with DIA, one of the best studios in this particular field. Together we collaborated on an application that anyone can operate to create kinetic typography. Everyone within SPACE10 should be able to use these tools, not just co-workers with a design background.

Pin — Norgram

How are SPACE10’s values represented in the identity?

Mitsuko: SPACE10 isn’t built to last, but to evolve. With that in mind, its identity has not been iterated on per se, but is constantly evolving. The elements that make up the brand identity are very simple and solid, and we’re constantly trying to make it a little bit better in order to fit alongside our values.

I think we’re in quite a unique position, in the sense that we do both research and design. There’s a multitude of platforms that come into contact with SPACE10. Because of that, we constantly have to think ahead. Also, we’re constantly working with collaborators: people who are more talented and smarter than us, who can inform us on finding new solutions. So if we can aid the process instead of hindering it, I think that’s really the key to our visual identity.

Right from the beginning, it was really important for SPACE10 to stay really democratic and to have tools that were accessible to both collaborators and designers.

Pin — Norgram

How do you translate the diversity within your projects into a visual language?

Bas: I think that our straightforward identity, rooted in a strong foundation, reflects the many different places we present ourselves to the public and the community. We might do a talk in an academic environment, or we might find ourselves in a remote area in India. We might be having conversations with machine learning experts, or with people who are doing incredible things in the world of food. We appear in so many different places and contexts that our identity should be neutral and able to adapt to any given situation.

Mitsuko: We need a strong foundation which is uncomplicated, but still of a high standard. We work with collaborators in a variety of countries, so something familiar and accessible, like Helvetica, just feels like a solid place to start.

Bas: We used Helvetica because it’s very democratic. It’s a typeface you can find on almost every computer. Same with the choice of pure black and white: its performance won’t fluctuate depending on different types of screens across the world.


SPACE10 Copenhagen. Photo — Barkas

The world is changing, shifting and evolving so quickly. How will the SPACE10 identity keep up?

Bas: Visual culture progresses extremely fast, so visual identities outdate pretty rapidly. Simultaneously, the places we interact with, or that create visual culture, are also changing. For that reason, SPACE10’s brand identity is designed to be ever-evolving, never finished, always a work in progress. I think that’s another rationale for having the identity we have: it’s timeless. Also, the field in which we operate progresses so fast. What is an identity in the age of augmented reality? What is an identity in the age of smart speakers, where you suddenly don’t have any visual branding elements? Our identity needs to keep up with these challenges.

Mitsuko: We are both proactive and reactive in seeing what’s happening in the world and how technology is moving. We take pride in being flexible and adapting to the waves of change.

Does that make you feel excited?

Mitsuko: Yes. But does it make it easy? No. It can sometimes feel like the possibilities are infinite. I don’t think our work is ever done.

Credits: SPACE10

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