Mary Lim

Thursday, August 27, 2015

ds: steamboat arabia

The nuances of a brand create an identity; the rendering of the logo, the roundness/sharpness of a letter, the choice of color and texture. The most striking tactic in branding we covered in class was utilizing the use of restraint. As a designer, I tend to pile on additional elements, making it complex and convoluted. In certain instances, less is more. A clear example of this that stood out to me was Kota Kobayashi's 'One Pine Tree' beer design which spoke to the tragedy of the 2011 tsunami as well as the hope for restoration. Like we discussed in class, the one pine tree does both these things simultaneously in a respectful and humble manner; paying tribute, with the stark white and black shapes, and instilling hope, using the symbol of a pine tree to represent the only thing that remained after the tsunami. 

Kota Kobayashi's 'One Pine Tree' beer design

Keeping that in mind, I want to rebrand either the Steamboat Arabia Museum or the Nelson-Atkins in a respectful manner. The reason why I chose such institutions was because of my interest in art history as well as the spatial elements it might entail. I haven't yet visited Steamboat Arabia, but I plan to over the weekend. In the mean time, some research: 

This is what their current website looks like:
Photos I found online:


Some things they emphasize, just from what I've observed on their website, is the concept of discovering lost treasure and the idea of being able to see a slice of life preserved from 1856. 

What's working for the design now, is that it definitely does speak to the "lost treasure" look and feel, referring to everything 'pirates' (wood, gold, jewels, ships, antiques...). What it lacks, however, is a nod to its historical significance as holding rare pre-Civil War era artifacts up to 1856. What I plan to do is prioritize the feel of the 1850s in a fresh way that's relevant to today, and make the appeal of  "lost treasure" secondary. 

The 1850s is marked as a time of expansion and division, prompting the Civil War a decade later (1861-1865). By this time, the Industrial Revolution was in a period of transition. Louis Daguerre patented the daguerreotype, and William Henry Fox Talbot had finished his Pencil of Nature, the first published compilation of photographs. The Crystal Palace Exhibition (1851) was held, celebrating industry and technology, and the idealized beauty of Victorian design was in trend. Chromolithography was also in development, allowing for color prints. These are the things that set up the 1850s. 

Owen Jones' Grammar of Ornament (1856)

How can I design something that feels like a slice of life from 1856 in a fresh, relevant way?  

Megg's History of Graphic Design by Philip B. Meggs

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