Mission Cliffs Applications

Mission Cliffs Applications

In his 1952 essay “On Trademarks,” Herbert Bayer refers to the trademark as a form of “pictorial stenography.” A good trademark is glyphic, and functions as visual shorthand for the client’s product or service. Our MC monogram for Mission Cliffs in San Francisco exemplifies this approach.

As I tell my students at CCA, the trick is to create a mark that is simultaneously simple but distinctive; that reproduces well in one color at less than half an inch, but that nonetheless pulls the eye and engages the mind. Here are two applications of the Mission Cliffs identity at extreme scales in size: lit signage above street level, and dumbbells.

A warm “thank you” to former student Sarah Devyani King for letting us use her photo of our signage! [MF]

Mission Cliffs Monogram

Mission Cliffs

We are proud to have been given the opportunity to redesign the identity of our favorite climbing gym, Mission Cliffs in San Francisco. Housed in a former foundry, the gym has an urban, industrial feel: concrete floors, steel I-beams, and a massive crane hook with the hand painted legend “20 tons of capacity.”

We thought the identity should feel empathetic with the space and so relied on simple, constructed forms. (The MC monogram is the kind of no-nonsense trademark that could be stamped out of metal, or stenciled on a machine.) The hexagonal silhouette is a reference to the bolts that are used in both indoor and some outdoor climbing to fasten anchors to the wall; the arrow both reinforces the hexagon and suggests the idea of up!

Pictured with the final design is our second inking of the monogram which is around 5 3/4 inches wide.

Fox at the Denver Art Museum

Kinder Gentler Carpet Bombing

One of my political posters, “Kinder, Gentler, Carpet Bombing,” is now on view in the exhibition “Drawn to Action: Posters from the AIGA Design Archives.” Culled from the AIGA Design Archives at the Denver Art Museum, the 33 posters in this exhibition “demonstrate the inventive techniques designers use to provoke action.”

I designed “Kinder, Gentler, Carpet Bombing” to question the first U.S./Iraq War in 1990, and distributed the poster via fax to a few friends and colleagues. I also hung it in the windows of my house, studio, and car. (The “GTO” designation in the lower right-hand corner is an abbreviation for Graphic Terrorist Organization, a name suggested by Seattle designer Art Chantry.) This poster is also in the collection of the United States Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. [MF]

Design is Play Archive

Justin Holbrook’s 2008 recontextualization of the classic fairytale Hansel and Gretel

Our original (non-responsive) Design is Play website is now accessible at designisplay/archive. This older site includes work from many of our former CCA students featured in projects from Angie’s Type 1 class and Mark’s Graphic Design 1 class. Student work can be found in the Classroom section of the site.

Pictured above are two spreads from Justin Holbrook’s 2008 recontextualization of the classic fairytale Hansel and Gretel.

Design is Play Morphs!

What did Angie do this summer? Redesign our site so that it is responsive! (Mark wisely watched from a safe distance.) Our heartfelt thanks to web developer Paul Davidson and designer (and CCA Alumna) Heidi Reifenstein for helping us bring Angie’s design to life. 

Our intern, Mystique, also provided invaluable assistance with this fluid medium.