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Design Philadelphia

Visual bridge connects conventional to unconventional

Client’s Challenge

For 10 days each October, the DesignPhiladelphia festival invites the public to attend events and view installations showcasing the work of local designers, architects and creative professionals. Run by the nonprofit Center / Architecture + Design, the 12th annual festival this year encompassed more than 100 events involving universities, cultural institutions, civic associations, city agencies, retailers, manufacturers and startups across the city.

Hollister Creative was asked to design the graphic identity for this year’s festival theme – “home.” The leadership team at DesignPhiladelphia had settled on an unconventional concept in which a person’s home extends out through multiple layers that encompass family, friends, neighborhood, community, state, country and world.

The challenge was to convey that concept while preserving the conventional sense of home as an intimate experience of love, warmth and belonging.

Our Solution

The graphic identity for DesignPhiladelphia 2016 was used on the website and print collateral, including the cover of the event guidebook shown here. The Hollister Creative design team collaborated on a variety of designs for the client to choose from. The design selected was inspired by traditional cross stitch patterns for “Home is where the heart is” – an iconic representation of homey feelings.

Using design software, the designer “stitched” the word HOME on an aged cloth background, mounted it in a circular frame and hung it on a wallpapered surface. The color palette and use of colorful triangles to create the “stitching” invokes Pennsylvania Dutch hex signs.

To bridge from the conventional to the unconventional meaning of home, the designer juxtaposed classic cross stitch with modern design styles, using a bitmap/pixelated look and feel for the red date banner and purple Philadelphia skyline.

Client Comment

Working with Hollister Creative on the 2016 DesignPhiladelphia graphic identity was fantastic. We are so pleased with the result and received tons of compliments on our festival theme and logo this year. Hollister’s team was able to incorporate our goals of the “Home” theme into a visually stunning and effective graphic identity for the festival. In addition to the end product, I was also very pleased with how effective and efficient working with Hollister was. The designers are smart and quick. They did an excellent job of listening to our ideas and concerns, and always responded thoughtfully and creatively.
– Rebecca E. Johnson, Executive Director, Center / Architecture + Design

Three Quick Tips

If you are faced with the challenge of creating a graphic identity to represent a theme, here are some tips to help you:

  • Brainstorm all the way to ridiculous. In the end, a graphic identity can seem like the obvious choice. But that only happens if, in the beginning, wildly creative thinking results in many, many ideas – some of which are ridiculous. The process of weeding out weaker ideas and gaining consensus leads to the best idea.
  • Look for inspiration in like things. For example, since “home” conveys a sense of place, we looked at many other designed objects that people associate with a place. One was the association between Lancaster County and the hex signs made by Amish craftspeople.
  • Leave room for interpretation. When a theme has to speak to many different types of people, conceptual-and-broad works better than literal-and-specific. Instead of telling the audience “this is what the theme means,” let them interpret the design and add their own meaning.