Play blend biology with textured illustrations in their emotive identity for Arcadia Science
Arcadia Science is a research and development company leveraging the biology of non-traditional organisms such as ticks, poisonous frogs and algae. In need of an identity to echo their mission, push the boundaries of open science and innovate at every stage of the research process, the company approached Play. In response, the San Francisco-based design studio have provided a rich visual language which combines the company’s experimental vision with charming character.
The resulting design system is grounded in an abstract representation of the tree of life – a mark that was carried over from the original brand with a few adjustments, such as increasing line weight to improve legibility. The identity’s concept further links to the significance of the tree as an ancient, cross-cultural paradigm for connecting all forms of creation. “We built upon this idea for the brand’s conceptual foundation,” Founder and Creative Director Casey Martin tells us, explaining the thinking behind the identity’s concept, “experimentation, research, and evolution were a few of the ideas that grew from the existing logo and ultimately became the roots for the brand system.” Furthermore, the wordmark sees the introduction of a new typeface, Favorit Light, to establish a strong visual relationship between it and the symbol.
For the leading brand typeface, Play specifically selected Suisse Int’l due to its roots in Swiss style – a movement that espoused the objective presentation of information – as well as for its clean and professional authority. Rounding out the typography is Suisse Works, chosen for its elegant, balanced proportions and legibility; and Suisse Int’l Mono for labelling and other supporting roles.
The logo, and much of the visual language, is clean and contemporary, nodding to the innovation and scientific nature of the company. However, the heart of the identity can be found in the distinctly hand-drawn, textured illustrations that bring warmth and personality. As Martin explains, the drawings, inspired by observational sketchbooks, proved integral to the storytelling of the company. “They were thoughtfully drawn to convey big ideas like discovery and community,” he continues, “while still being relevant to the written content.”
The mix of highly technical and abstract illustration is elevated with the emotive use of vibrant hues, which complements the identity’s organic bio-inspired palette perfectly. “As such,” Martin notes, “the brand palette serves as a backdrop for the illustrations while grounding the brand in soft, neutral tones,” he concludes.
In a follow-up interview with Lauren Richardson, Arcadia Science’s Director of Communications, she commended Play’s creative outcome, which has helped the company stand apart from its competitors whilst inviting unconventional talent and collaborators. Reflecting on the impact of the identity so far, Richardson tells us “we want to emanate a sense of exploration, experimentation, creativity, and wonder.” The visual language succeeds, whilst emanating the company’s approach. “The identity that Play created for us absolutely delivers, visually conveying our unorthodoxy and our admiration of the natural world and evolution,” she concludes.
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