Design studio housecleaning - excavated artifact #15

The bit of my design career past I found this past week is different than most of my previously posted excavated artifacts. In addition to filing away examples of past logo design projects, I've been going through a stack of old articles written about my work and archiving them. I came across a clipping, from the U.K. newspaper The Sunday Times, in which a logo I designed is critiqued by Lisa Godson. In my entire career it is the only piece of my work reviewed by a major publication

The logo was created for a web development firm in Dublin, Ireland by the name of DesignEire. The project was one of the first international projects I had done entirely by way of the Internet. The review appeared as part of Godson's regular column "Designer Ireland" on June 6, 2004.

No. 237: DesignEire

The most impressive item in DesignEire’s portfolio is themselves — or rather their logo. It has won international awards, been featured in graphic design manuals as an example of excellence and is utterly distinctive.

The logo is a representation of the D and E of the company name, and plays on visual perception. The letters are placed back to back, this snugness an allusion to their part in a composite word. The E is a curved Celtic uncial, and so at first glance the design appears to depict two back-to-back semi-circles.

It seems almost abstract, with the negative space formed by the two curves emphasised visually by being rendered in white. As the brightest element in the composition, the eye is drawn first to this non-signifying abstract shape — the leftover part of the design forming the central focus, in a subversion of the norm.

Another unusual aspect of the design is the use of dark colours. The shape enclosed by the D is in indigo, and that of the E in a dark leaf green. The allusion here seems to be to cosmopolitanism on the one hand and the local on the other. With a name like DesignEire, it is clear the company wants to be associated with Ireland, but it also works for international clients. The logo is certainly more subtle than the cheeky name — the use of the terms design and Eire make it sound like an official state design organisation rather than a small commercial firm.

The appeal of the logo is not just a cerebral one of optical illusions and allusions but an emotional one. The letters and shapes of it are all marked out in thick black line, and coupled with the strong colours gives it a hand-drawn, child-like air. It is designed as much as an illustration as a corporate trademark — in fact, it is more suggestive of the work of Roger Hargreaves, creator of the Mr Men books than that of a contemporary graphic designer.

Lisa Godson is tutor in Critical and Historical Studies at the Royal College of Art. She was previously a lecturer in the Department of the History of Art, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin Institute of Technology and elsewhere, wrote a weekly column on Irish design for the Sunday Times for six years, and worked as a curator and consultant to the National Museum of Ireland. Godson also wrote the limited edition book Stealing Hearts from a Travelling Show: The Graphic Design of U2.

As mentioned in the review, the DesignEire logo did receive its fair share of additional recognition. The design won a Summit Creative Award (Silver) and appears in the books The Big Book of Logos 3, New Logo World (Japan), Graphically Speaking, Global Corporate Identity, and Logo Design for Small Business 2.

It's interesting to look back on the critique of the design. The simplicity of the finished design has always made it one of my personal favorites. Once again, I'm glad I never throw anything away.

Content of review © Copyright 2007 Times Newspapers Ltd. • bLog-oMotives and logo image © 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives.

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