For its forthcoming Brand New conference, UnderConsideration has created a new identity to reflect the event’s relocation from New York to Chicago. It uses the two versions of the typeface named after the city, designed in 1984 and 1991, to weave all sorts of typographic patterns…
“Because we are always obsessing about 1984 – the year, not the dystopian novel … our thoughts led us to the origins of the Mac, the venerable tool that allows most of us to make a living,” says UC co-founder Armin Vit of the identity’s development.
“This led to thinking about Susan Kare and her original family of fonts for the deliciously low resolution interface of the original Mac Operating System.” The collection of bitmaps fonts Kare created included Monoca, Toronto, Geneva and Chicago.
“A delightful bitmap font with a heavily accentuated contrast between its thicks and thins, Chicago was the main interface font in Mac’s OS and decades later it was also the UI font of the original iPod,” adds Vit.
“However, as the OS evolved and the resolution increased, Apple moved away from bitmap fonts and began introducing smooth-edged fonts in the interface; not ready to leave Chicago behind Apple commissioned Bigelow & Holmes to literally smooth out the original version [see gif above], keeping the same structure but curving all the corners.”
Vit isn’t a fan of the 1991 work – and suggests that Apple slowly fazed the font out, initially decommissioning it from its UI before leaving it out of the OS altogether – but saw something in combining the two versions within a single identity for Brand New.
“This Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – or, well, more like Mr. Hyde and Mr. Hyde – double personality and the legacy of Chicago as a font in the Apple brand was very appealing and seemed like a good place to start exploring,” he says.
Other reference points in the identity include developing a “pixellated-slash-cross-stitch pattern” to suggest the “holiday sweaters” adopted in the colder climes of the American midweat; and the animating data boards of the Chicago stock exchange.
UC has created two pattern animations, below…
… and experimented with the lettering on speaker names and portraits for potential Brand New conference programmes and stage slides (speakers Jim Bull and Roanne Adams shown below):
The treatment is also carried onto the website (homepage detail shown, below) – with the patterns at the top forming a rather hectic scrolling animation. The supporting typeface is Burlingame by Carl Crossgrove for Monotype which, says Vit, “has a hard-working, blue-collar feel to it that we feel goes well with the city and oddly enough pairs well (or really wrong) with Chicago.”
The result is a heady mix of jagged and smooth lines that will thread the new identity across a range of conference materials come September.