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Designing a Dual-Purpose Visual Identity
The historic Arts and Industries Building (AIB) is the second oldest Smithsonian museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. To celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Smithsonian and announce the next chapter of the Arts and Industries Building, a series of future-focused events and exhibits will be staged to prepare for permanent renovations and reopening.
Labeled as “The Future Project,” this dynamic space reimagines the traditional museum and plans to be a new destination for the Smithsonian to explore questions around where our species is headed while conveying a thoughtfully optimistic vision for the future. While part of the Smithsonian brand family, The Future Project needed a flexible identity and dual-purpose logo that could stand on its own and serve the needs of both fundraising and promoting the Arts and Industries Building.
Beyond Definition was tasked with building an identity for The Future Project since the Arts and Industries Building had been out of use since 2004. Our team collaborated with the Smithsonian to inject life back into a space that had previously inspired millions of visitors with a series of collections for 125 years.
Our team developed two versions of The Future Project logo and established a brand identity through clean typography and a strategic color palette. We wanted visitors of the renovated space to feel immersed in a completely new experience, starting with the messaging and narrative displayed in the logo. Version one, used for fundraising, showcases the Arts and Industries Building’s exterior in an isometric view. The second version, which will be used for promotion, shows the same view with the roof off, revealing the exhibit’s interior space. The resulting identity and logos for The Future Project launch the Smithsonian into the future, reflecting energy and excitement for the next chapter of the Arts and Industries Building while amplifying the Smithsonian brand.
“Beyond Definition [Bates Creative] really went above and beyond in terms of the time and thought they committed to our project.”
Since The Future Project did not have a previous brand to build off of, our team collaborated extensively with the Smithsonian to capture their ideal vision for the upcoming dynamic exhibit hall. In order to conceptualize a logo that felt fresh and unique, while still existing under the Smithsonian brand umbrella, we studied the history, community, and architecture of the Arts and Industries Building. Much of the brainstorming process was dependent on imagination and visualization for what this space previously represented, and what it will mean for visitors in the future.
ARTS AND INDUSTRIES BUILDING ARCHITECTURE IMAGERY
To bring the logo to life, we pulled in elements of architecture to capture a simplified interpretation of the Arts and Industries Building. This was accompanied by a warm color palette with a gradient effect that looks as if it is shining a light on the future. The new brand elements are dedicated to experience, living at the intersection of the past, present, and future that the Arts and Industries Building will represent. The final logos were then used to establish the design for a promotional brochure for The Future Project, drawing on the Smithsonian’s mission to engage and inspire millions of people.
ARTS AND INDUSTRIES BUILDING AND THE FUTURE PROJECT LOGO DESIGN VARIATIONS