bijun liang

The Counterforce Lab

2016
Branding

Client: The Counterforce Lab, UCLA Center for Art + Design + Environment
Members: Bijun Liang, Kara Logan Louis Pham, Madelyn Avjean, Samantha Chang, Victor Beteta

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With a team of 5 other designers, I designed the visual identity for Counterforce Lab, a new UCLA Center for Art + Design + Environment. Main phases include Research, Positioning, Creative Direction, and Production.

The CounterForce Lab:
The CounterForce Lab is a research-based experimental arts studio based in the Design Media Arts Department at UCLA, led by professor and artist Rebeca Mendez. With art and design at its core, the CounterForce Lab creates and executes remedial environmental works focused on direct intervention with nature to address existing and speculative ecological issues. CounterForce deepens empathy and emotional connections between humans, animals, and the environment. As a visual communicator and storyteller, CounterForce creates new narratives for the environmental cause based on the values of action, empathy and understanding.


Research

Visual development began with researching existing environmental agencies, institutions, schools, and artists. Each member of the team focused on 4-5 different entities, recording crucial elements and findings related to function, funding, positioning, audience, location, niche, objectives, visual and written language. We also kept constant communication with the client to learn about The Counterforce Lab's own operations and how it compares to current society and culture.

Spearheaded by two experts in design and visual communication, Rebeca Mendez and Adam Eeuwens, The Counterforce Lab is a small, outdoor center focused on field study projects. The identity of the lab lies not in the physical location of an actual center, but by the practice and art created by its members. Our team was keen to position the branding of the Counterforce Lab to reflect these values.


Positioning

The CounterForce Lab is a research-based experimental arts studio based in the Design Media Arts Department at UCLA, led by professor and artist Rebeca Mendez. With art and design at its core, the CounterForce Lab creates and executes remedial environmental works focused on direct intervention with nature to address existing and speculative ecological issues. CounterForce deepens empathy and emotional connections between humans, animals, and the environment. As a visual communicator and storyteller, CounterForce creates new narratives for the environmental cause based on the values of action, empathy and understanding.

Personality
Five words–buoyant, adaptive, coalescent, small, remedial, change–informed the positioning and foundation for the Counterforce Lab's personality and ethos. These words formed the basis for next phase in Creative Direction.

Optimistic and resilient, Counterforce has roots tied together to water and the ocean. It is lifted and sustained by the upward force of the ocean.

Counterforce is experimental and tests new methods to keep up with the changing environment that surrounds it.

Counterforce brings people, animals, nature of different elements together, and participates in growing together as one world. Each element completes the other.

Counterforce is a concentrated village of artists –specialists of different disciplines– who are light on their feet and quick to react to the changing form of nature.

Counterforce addresses ecological, social, and cultural issues and aims to remediate the effects on nature caused by its human inhabitants.

Counterforce is a center for change, in a world that is constantly shifting and evolving. It is a force that initiates change. It is ongoing change.



Creative Direction

The visual development of the logo was heavily based on the Counterforce positioning and personality. The logo was born during an exploration of finding a mark that is small, adaptive, and symbolizes change. We began with the simple "dot" as a starting point for the brand's visual identity.

The Mark
When the mark is alone, it is a declaration. Derived from the period, it is a statement that holds strength and solidity. The mark also stems from the study of the atom, the essential unit from which all other things derive. Counterforce aims to be the hub from which countless meaningful and creative projects that promote and make change may stem from. When the mark is partially filled, it suggests the buoyancy of the filling of water. Water itself is a symbolic representation of progression, adaptation, and time, speaking to the very real and time-based issues that Counterforce addresses which require a constant acknowledgement of time, adaptation, and progress in order to effectively make strides.

The Logo
When the mark is joined by more to form of an ellipsis, it connotes a sense of time, progression, and ongoing activity. The three dots come to symbolize the past, present, and futuvre. Together, they convey a sense of continuation. The logo is adaptive and can be formed from an infinite number of dots – all filled, or filling in gradation.

The Logotype
Combining the primary font Courier Sans Light and the symbol of the ellipsis dots being filled in succession, the Counterforce logotype communicates both continuation and a call to action. The ellipsis suggests the continuance of a set of dots that can be added to, as well an anticipated reaction. It indicates omission and a space to be filled.

Brand Guide
The full brand guide for The Counterforce Lab is available in PDF.

Counterforce

Counterforce.

A dot. It creates a statement. A small symbol that connects ideas into complete thoughts.

Three dots—ellipses. Counterforce is to be continued. It is ongoing and changing.

A hollow dot. A period for other cultures, but also a symbol to indicate temperature, time.

Counterforce is rooted in addressing issues related to the earth, climate, and ecosystems.



Production

The Counterforce brand is lived through a field work kit. Please also see the companion project, Bird of Happiness.