AIF PROGRAM BOOK
The Aspen Ideas Festival was born out of a casual conversation in 2005 between The Atlantic’s vice president Elizabeth Baker Keffer and The Aspen Institute’s president and CEO Walter Isaacson. Their original vision for the festival was to create a summer camp of sorts for the world’s intellectuals. Since then, it has grown into a renowned annual gathering of the world’s best and brightest thinkers and doers. Throughout the weeklong event, speakers and presenters from across the globe explore critical issues such as the economy, justice, the environment, media, science, education, and much more.
With the summer of 2009 marking the festival’s 5th anniversary, festival organizers requested a new look for their materials, the expansive program book, in particular. A 150+ page book, the program presents a comprehensive listing and descriptions of all of the festival’s programs, topics, and events, as well as biographies of over 100 speakers who are attending. More than just an informational piece, the program book is meant to be a keepsake and represents the very essence of the Aspen Ideas Festival.
For the previous four years, the original design was updated with new colors each year, and design elements such as fonts, tabs, headers, and footers were updated slightly, too. The size and binding of the book had changed in 2007 from saddle stitched to coil bound, but that remained the most significant change since the festival’s inception.
The request for a redesign coincided with our move from employees to partners and owners of our own firm. We jumped at the opportunity to put a new face on the Aspen Ideas Festival. The Institute’s only requests were to do something different, to keep the colors bright and festive, to incorporate divider pages, and to make the book feel more substantial, all while staying within their budget.
The redesign process began with the program cover. Through our initial studies and research we realized that the Institute was not prepared for a complete and sudden departure from the existing identity. We determined that the solution was to deconstruct the existing logo and reconfigure the elements to create a more abstract cover layout. By doing so, we updated the look without making a complete departure.
Once the cover design was complete, we turned to the book itself. Based on the request for a more substantial piece, we decreased the overall size and added extra heavy cover stock divider pages. These changes made it thicker and stiffer. We then turned our attention to the guts of the book.
As a result of this new direction, we redesigned every section of the Aspen Ideas Festival program book from the contents page to the thank yous—cover to cover. We delivered on all three-client requests and feedback from festival organizers was overwhelmingly positive. The program book was just what they envisioned.
BASALT BIKE AND SKI LOGO
Basalt Bike and Ski was established in 2006 and is located in the heart of Old Town Basalt. Due to its central position in the Roaring Fork Valley, along with the owner’s experience with both the cycling and ski industries, the store serves the valley’s snow riders and cyclists by changing out its entire inventory for the two different seasons. Consequently, it was important for the logo to reinforce the name and communicate the store’s unique position as both a ski and cycling shop.
Based on the owner’s input, we immediately envisioned a logo that incorporated a bicycle or bicycle part along with skis or imagery that represented skiing. We felt the logo needed to be very clean and simple while also communicating strength, solidity and athleticism. It was also important that the logo be appropriate for different applications, including store windows and merchandise such as t-shirts and caps.
Through the design process, we found that using a full bicycle with skis made the logo overly complicated. Alternatively, a bike wheel was a simple yet clear representation of the sport. We eliminated skis from the logo, as we wanted it to be inclusive of snowboarding. Ulitmately, we decided on a simple representation of nearby Mount Sopris as a very graphic way to capture all snow sports and also to speak to mountain biking, which is a significant part of the store’s summer business.
The nature of the store itself is somewhat rustic and down to earth. Because of this, we wanted the logo to reference vintage ski area patches while maintaining an up-to-date feel. This lead us to choose a more contemporary typeface combined with the more vintage shape of the logo. We chose the colors based on the owner’s preferences along with our desire to evoke a retro yet hip feel.
Today, Basalt Bike & Ski is a thriving sporting goods store with a devoted following of locals and visitors. It is known for both its excellent customer service and its hip sensibility, and the logo adorns everything from bags to water bottles, military caps to t-shirts and cycling kits.
ITHREE GRAPHIC DESIGN WEBSITE
After our company logo and identity were established, our next step was to create a website. Our objectives were to effectively market ourselves in a crowded marketplace and reflect our creativity, professionalism and personality.
Designing for ourselves has been the most challenging yet the most rewarding of our projects. As three confident designers, we each have our own aesthetic and opinion about how we want to present ourselves. Fortunately, while we approached this design question from three unique perspectives, we focused on the most important: our commitment to quality design, collaboration, and the success of our business.
As a graphic design firm, it was imperative that our website be compelling and distinct. As our “online portfolio,” it also needed to be informational and easy to use. Most importantly, however, it needed to present who we are as a firm.
Our process began, as always, with research, and we spent time looking at websites of design firms we respect and admire. While we found this helpful in determining what elements to include in our site, it could not help us determine the look of our site. On the one hand, we felt our work should be the focus of the site and should stand out more than our own identity. On the other hand, we wanted our website to display our somewhat quirky sensibility and creativity.
Our first layout leaned more to the former. After sitting with this design for a bit, it became clear that we were not yet there. The second rendition moved toward the more traditional website with a very subtle look using few design elements other than color and a clear division of space. We found that this look, while professional and clear, did not reflect our personality or creativity.
We went back to the drawing board, and after an intense brainstorming session, it occurred to us to use elements of previous projects as the primary design elements of the site. We felt this was an innovative way to keep our work at the forefront.
We started by cropping out sections of existing pieces with relevant copy to create a collage of words describing our firm’s reputation, style and values. We created a rough draft of the idea and presented it to our marketing consultant for feedback. While she responded immediately and positively to the overall concept, it wasn’t quite hitting the mark.
With some minor tweaking to do, we decided to use pieces of pattern rather than copy to create the collage composition. Now on the right track, we wanted to take the site to the next level and make it more dynamic. We felt that incorporating flash and rollover navigation would achieve this.
Once the home page elements were determined, we then carried them over to the secondary and tertiary pages. The end result is a website that presents our design capabilities, showcases our work, and reflects who we are as a firm.