For the many: ANTI’s rigorous, generative identity system for Forskningsrådet unites 38 sub-brands
Facilitating impactful partnerships between scientists and businesses alike, Norway’s Research Council (Forskningsrådet) champions progress; looking to inspire and enact real, thoughtful change. The institute, however, required an aesthetic, strategic and structural shakeup – with 38 sub-brands to its name – turning to Oslo and Hamar-based studio ANTI to achieve as much.
“The Research Council was previously perceived as fragmented and not visible to some audiences,” Designer Markus Storsveen, Senior Designer Veronika Artiuschenko and Design Director Kristoffer Eidsnes tell us. “The fact that they lacked a unified platform to communicate their mission and function clearly,” they add, “even caused certain misunderstandings regarding the organisation’s work and value,” a critique that went on to found the basis of ANTI’s design concept. “Essentially, they’re creating efficient and meaningful connections,” Storsveen, Artiuschenko and Eidsnes detail, “connections enable change, as we formulated it in our design concept.”
To translate their concept whilst unifying the dozens of brands under The Research Council’s belt, ANTI turned to a generative approach when crafting its brand, resulting in a connection-making system inspired by the mathematic feature, Dubins path. “This formula describes the shortest curve to connect two points,” the trio recall, encouraging them to create the generator produced in partnership with TRYApt. “The generator uses a default 4x4 grid,” Storsveen, Artiuschenko, and Eidsnes explain, “with each grid point representing an area in which the Research Council works.”
Subsequently, they found further inspiration beyond mathematics and into typographic history – notably Armin Hoffman’s visual variation study. Strictly explaining the process behind the brand, they detail, “the generator picks a series of random points in the grid and uses Dubins path to connect them,” resulting in numerous variations that maintain a shared, poetic aesthetic. “This library of icons serves as logo symbols for both the mother brand and selected sub-brands,” Storsveen, Artiuschenko, and Eidsnes continue, “and informs all graphics, 3D designs, physical objects, and illustrations used across the entire identity.”
Having utilised Dubins path to reunite The Research Council’s 38 sub-brands, ANTI then pursued their Swiss-inspired typographic output, calling on Pangram Pangram’s Neue Montreal and IMB Plex from Bold Monday as the pairing of choice. “Neue Montreal complements the organic visual language of the Dubins path-based icons,” Storsveen, Artiuschenko and Eidsnesand suggest, relying on the sans serif’s neutrality and capacity to provide a robust bedrock for the surrounding visuals to flourish upon. “IBM Plex Mono was selected to provide a clear visual reference to the scientific field,” they add, with additional typefaces, such as Displaay ’s Tobias feeding into the multitude of sub-brands. “For example, Kilden is a sub-brand of the Research Council that promotes gender research,” they note, “which uses Tobias as part of its typographic toolbox,” addressing the intense editorial requirements of the sub-brand and its communication needs – as similarly tackled through the ANTI’s approach to colour.
“In our pursuit of selecting the appropriate colours for The Research Council’s identity,” Storsveen, Artiuschenko and Eidsnes explain, “we delved into the role of colour in science communication,” finding issues in colour contrast and comparison, whereby changes of hue were interpreted as data changes and not part of a variable palette. “To accurately display the data in the design, a perceptually uniform colour space was necessary,” they remark, implementing The Research Council’s colour theory across the existing research-based principles of Dubins Path.
“We developed a system of 145 colours based on 12 selected hues and a perceptually uniform colour space,” they explain, all of which were named after Nobel Prize laureates. “Each colour in the system can be combined with one another,” Storsveen, Artiuschenko and Eidsnes continue, due to the set all sharing common origins, “however, we ensured that the parent brand’s selected palette was present to some extent in the sub-brands,” giving each their own signature hue alongside the primary greens, greys and blues of the mother brand. “They provide vibrancy,” they conclude, “while still maintaining a sense of seriousness.”