Wedge designs an approachable but “not too childish” identity for Gender Creative Kids Canada
The studio talks us through its visual language for GCKC – a non-profit education, community and resource company for trans, non-binary and gender creative youth.
- Ayla Angelos
- 12 January 2021
- Reading Time
- 4 minute read
When we last heard from Justin Lortie and Sarah Di Domenico – founders of Montreal-based creative studio Wedge – we came to learn that everything they put their minds towards is driven by authenticity. The duo run on an ethos that views good design as something that can only arrive from a combination of challenge, strategic thought and high craft. “This means that at the end of the day, you stand for something – you have a real story to tell, whether that’s by words or pure visuals,” says Sarah. “A clear point of view in a complex world; one that people are excited to share, surpassing trend for true authenticity.”
Working across visual identities, packaging, campaigns and projects that range from city wayfinding sculptures to store experience, Wedge’s work spans fashion, furniture, food and drink, sustainable products, luxury goods, culture and institutions. People and the planet are two key pillars to the work that the studio puts out into the world, so it’s no wonder we were drawn in by its branding project for Canadian furniture company EQ3 last year, that saw exceptionally conscious design paired with a modern aesthetic.
This time around, we’re seeing Wedge lend its skills and positive ethos to a new project for Gender Creative Kids Canada (GCKC), working as its official brand partner and producing a new identity. GCKC is a non-profit organisation that launched in 2013 and, ever since, has been providing education, community and services for trans, non-binary and gender creative youth in their home life, education and society as a whole. The relationship between the two companies is one that grew naturally, after GCKC invited Wedge to pitch its own vision – that which succumbed to an idea to “be themselves”, says Justin. “We presented ourselves simply as people, speaking from the heart to connect with the board and shared inspirations we envisioned that would drive out work together.”
As such, the brief went a little like this: “Help us dignify our visual expression from the world stage.” Positioning itself as an advocate for inclusivity, community, empathy and joy, Wedge responded with an identity that goes far beyond the visual aesthetic. Sarah notes how the process began with education, guided by the GCKC team through a series of workshops and training: “There was a lot of listening to understand the organisation’s experiences, perspectives, who they serve, what they want to project, and to gain a sense of how the community may react to certain choices or various concerns to keep in mind.” This led to a more graphical focus rather than photography led, which was a move decided upon to maintain anonymity. Blended with various illustration styles, graphic references and typography, the team then opted for an Agrandir typeface – “approachable but not too childish” – designed and donated by Montreal-based type foundry Pangram Pangram.
Optimism plays a huge part in the language of this identity, where character development and a colourful palette spearheaded the design decisions at hand. The team worked with a combination of hand sketches to first map out ideas, before moving onto Adobe Illustrator and Sigma prototypes for the digital components. “The visual language is joyful, inspiring, human, friendly, inclusive and makes you feel safe,” says Justin. “Colour brings that instant emotional response.”
Not only did the positive, multicoloured palette instigate this, but having an equally as strong and universal symbol that could transcend the brand’s identity through other avenues was also a driving factor. “The heart is the truest part of you and presents a universal language – it’s something we wanted children to recognise and love,” he continues, citing how the character was a “lovely surprise” that emerged from this notion. “They stand tall and confident, providing an additional layer of optimism to the upbeat expression.”
When submitting a brief – and finalised project, for that matter – it can be a daunting process, let alone if it were to be reviewed by kids. For Wedge, it had the final workings looked over by the children that GCKC work with. “Nine year-olds can certainly be more direct than CEOS,” says Sarah, stating how they involved the kids and parents in the final review of the visual identity – “who had a lot to say about choice of colour and instantly approved the symbol.” For Wedge, it was important that its users loved the work and were included in the final phase of the design’s execution.
The end result is a positivity affirming identity that raises a smile, especially for the fact that you know each of those involved had great intentions for their work. Wedge sees the project as that which will spark happiness and a “welcoming feeling”. Above all, though, they want the identity to evoke a sense of hope. “We want to make the journey more hopeful and less scary,” says Justin, “and to encourage people to connect with GCKC as a safe space and community.”
About the Author
Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and has continued to work with us on a freelance basis. She has spent the last seven years as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.