Design Week 2014 L.A. Hacking L.A. Brand

We had the pleasure to take part of the Design Week June 15-21, 2014 in Los Angeles at  MFA Graphic Design Program Otis College of Art and Design.

A vibrant international learning community of students, faculty, and visiting artists from studios: Niessen @ de Vries, Amsterdam Cox and Grussenmeyer, Antwerp Type Radio, Rotterdam Feixen Studio, Lucerne, Project Projects, New York and Lava Design.

Design as a thinking process

The main goal of our workshop “Hacking the LA City Brand” was to arm students with the tools to create design with intention. By developing critical thinking we hoped to help them develop future designs solutions that respond to the complexity and richness of their social context. At Lava we believe that the process of in-depth contextual thinking is crucial to building strong identities that thrive and resonate with their audiences.

The parts are bigger than the whole

To achieve that we took students  through a journey that went from research, analysis and conceptual thinking to design development. Our starting point was the controversies of city branding. We tried to get students focused more on the questions that need to be raised than of the answers.

Can a city brand truly reflect the authenticity of a complex entity as a city?

We worked on LA as an example building a conceptual map to analyse how its perception was built vs how it really is: a city of many cities. Our thesis was: the parts are bigger than the whole.

You are the city of LA!

To identify the parts and the differences students brought an object. The second challenge was to reflect their relationship with the city and map LA according to their personal experience. This exercise gave a rich overview on the different city perspectives identifying overlaps, connections and nuts of conflicts.

It is all about the design intention!

Using the elements identified  and working in groups students were asked to think of concepts to hack the ‘LA brand” articulating their intention an purpose.

As a result three concepts where developed into visual identities showing unique and strong perceptions of LA: LA-ish, Los Angeles Originals and Lost Angels.

We couldn’t wish for better students: smart, sharp, quick thinkers and makers. The time was short, the energy high and the engagement INCREDIBLE.

By Cecilia Martin and Menno Cruijsen.