Electric Red’s reductive identity for Gaid University is rooted in accessibility and simplicity
Yegor Gaidar Foundation’s virtual academic project Gaid University looks to hold free, online expert tutorials across Russia; regarding the contemporary economic and social science scene – hoping to be as accessible, publicly fruitful and popular as possible. Working with New York-based design studio Electric Red – founded by Nastya Vishnyakova and Svyat Vishnyakov – they have completed a comprehensive corporate identity that brings together Gaid University’s intentions, as well as providing a future-focused aesthetic that looks to translate growth and improvement.
Inspired by what Gaid University are hoping to achieve, and their ensurance for “free access to education for teachers and professionals,” Vishnyakov explains, “we came up with a system and prepared stationery, layouts for online communication and animation for the client.” Due to the university not having an in-house design team, it was crucial for the studio to create something that was developmental and flexible, whilst incredibly easy to understand, implement and format.
The system incorporates a dynamic set of shapes, collating a system that has two functions; one to organise space on paper, and the second to formulate interesting compositions through the use of rulers. “All designers know that putting a few words on a sheet can be the hardest,” Vishnyakov tells us, “this is where rulers come to the rescue again, transforming from utilitarian dividers into branded graphics.” The shapes themselves pay homage to the tables, diagrams and graphics found within the university and economic setting, without the result being so restricting. Instead, the result is a system that gives the audience breathing space; an ethereal aesthetic that highlights the distinct structural underpinnings without being brusque.
The colour palette is also dictated by the academic and economic setting – “thin white lines on the black background are associated with chalk drawings on a blackboard in university classrooms,” he explains, something going hand-in-hand with the need for simplicity. “Such a neat style required a clean colour palette,” he explains, “we wanted the design to look rigorous and academic, as befits a university.”
Truly cementing the work together is the architectural use of Soyuz Grotesk as their typeface, relishing in its innate contrasts and tightly closed apertures that provide a gentle rhythm to its lettering. “The typeface is quite unusual,” Vishnyakov recalls, “it doesn’t have an uppercase” owed to the modernist approach it takes for equality and democracy within its character set. “It corresponds with the concept of the university named after the liberal Russian economist Yegor Gaidar,” they explain, using the typeface within their heraldic, traditional logo design. Using the academically common symbol of a shield, the team then simplified it down to emphasise the “openness and accessibility of this education to everyone.” In doing so Electric Red have harvested an identity that seems transient of tense; with its understanding of the past, awareness of the now and consideration for the future.