“An effective logo must be uncomplicated, relevant, and memorable. Not unlike principles associated with the Bauhaus, which put forth, ‘simplified forms, rationality and functionality, and the idea that mass production is reconcilable with the individual artistic spirit.’ While I did not want to equate CAUS with the Bauhaus, I did want to call upon its principles and pay homage to the school’s influence on CAUS’ fifty-year legacy. The college’s founding dean, Charles Burchard, was a student of Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius at Harvard. There are four circular forms found in the stylized ‘50.’ Each represents one of the four schools under CAUS. The forms are all interwoven to represent the college’s perpetuation of collaboration
— 50th Anniversary Icon Competition Winner David Spradlin, BFA Visual Communication Design 2012
In commemoration of fifty years of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies — 1964 to 2014 — a committee of current and emeritus faculty organized the 50th Anniversary Icon Competition for faculty, staff, students, and alumni of the college to submit their concepts for a design that reflected the spirit and history of the college.
The jury for the competition comprised renowned designers Sagi Haviv, a partner and designer at Chermayeff & Geismar, a leading graphic design firm in the fields of corporate identity, brand development, and logo design; Lisa Mahar, College of Architecture and Urban Studies alumna and founder of Kid O; and Rocco Piscatello, founder of Piscatello Design Centre, an independent strategy and visual design systems consultancy working for clients and cities worldwide.
When evaluating the designs, the jury considered a number of criteria. They wanted the mark to be a memorable, unique, and appropriate representation of the college for its milestone anniversary, and while artistic merit was an important factor, other key considerations were scalability and versatility, including the potential to be reproduced both two-dimensionally and three-dimensionally.
In his comments following the awards presentation in Cowgill Hall, juror Sagi Haviv offered the full-house crowd his advice on design.
“Always start from an idea — never just do something for decoration. Before you do anything, think of what you want to say, have a strong idea, and then go execute it,” Haviv said. “If there is an idea behind something, it engages the viewer. The viewer has to think something about it, feel something about it; it’s not about beauty … the idea will make it beautiful.”
Spradlin’s icon design was based on his research on the history of the college and the influence of the Bauhaus on founding dean Charles Burchard, as represented through the streamlined architectural design. He also illustrated a sense of a community and collaboration between the schools within the college by using the interwoven numerals making up the stylized 50.
During their visit to Blacksburg for the awards presentation, the three jurors also gave guest lectures on their own work and experiences and toured the campus, talking with students in industrial design, architecture, and visual communication design and providing feedback and professional advice.
For many participants in the competition, the opportunity to receive feedback from the internationally known designers was its own reward.
“By far the greatest gain from this competition was working and meeting with the jury. It’s not every day that you have an opportunity to put your work in front of world-class designers like these,” Spradlin said. “In the context of the competition, [winning] means that I created what the judges saw as the most effective design solution for the icon. So gaining that kind of approval from Rocco, Lisa, and Sagi was a victory right there.”
Building on the concept and elements in the icon, Spradlin also designed a number of graphic variations that will appear throughout 2014.