The Eames Institute launches with a curious, “Eamesian” identity, and a logo that observes
Rather than referencing the Eames’ iconic work, Manual Creative distils the design duo’s timeless approach by focusing on looking, play and approachability.
- Liz Gorny
- 7 April 2022
How do you solve a problem like the Eameses? Or, how do you create a brand that captures the essence of the Eameses which isn’t a “cover version” of their work – as Manual Creative’s creative director Tom Crabtree calls it. How would the Eameses themselves solve the problem? This month, a new non-profit opened in California titled The Eames Institute (of Infinite Curiosity), dedicated to bringing Ray and Charles Eames’ iconic methodologies to life to a modern audience. As two renowned designers whose fingerprints can be found across modern architecture and furniture design, to carry on their legacy is no small feat. An equally tall order is the identity for such an institute, which has recently been delivered by San Francisco-based design studio Manual Creative.
“It was at first a daunting task to think about how we could represent the world of Ray and Charles Eames in a new identity,” Tom tells It’s Nice That. “From the outset we were pretty clear that the work should not formally reference any particular product or aesthetic output of the Eameses.” Particularly careful to avoid mimicking forms seen in their furniture, Manual looked to the duo’s process instead, especially evident in the new logo for the institute. The studio has developed a “curious e” for this key cornerstone; “a dynamic monogram that has the ability to shift its gaze in order to observe its context, emphasise content, and carry on the Eames’ legacy of spirited discovery,” says Tom.
It’s a logo that particularly stands out in motion when it appears to search or look around, showcased particularly well in an excellent new website co-created by Instrument and the Eames Institute. Emphasising the spirit of Manual’s identity, the site is full of interactive elements and “digital objects”. Tom adds: “There’s a delightful ‘easter-egg’ bouncing logo moment that invites users to discover the playfulness in the Eamses’ process. But you’ll have to find that one for yourself…”
Similar moments of delight can be found looking at the identity and its physical applications. For which, Tom explains: “We wanted to echo the feeling of being at the Eames Ranch, opening drawers and discovering materials and artefacts for the first time.” For example, typographically, Manual draws from clues found within Eames ephemera. The use of Topol Bold references News Gothic, a typeface that the Eames used in film titles, such as Powers of Ten. Meanwhile, Century Schoolbook Monospace pays homage to the archive labelling that can be found on flat file drawers at the Eames Ranch and in the Eameses’ very own business cards.
The final result is certainly indicative of Manual’s respect and love of the designers’ legacy, an “identity representative of Ray and Charles’ unique vision of the world infused with curiosity,” Tom concludes.
GalleryManual Creative: The Eames Institute (of Infinite Curiosity) (Copyright © The Eames Institute, 2022)
Manual Creative: The Eames Institute (of Infinite Curiosity) (Copyright © The Eames Institute, 2022)
About the Author
Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating from the University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, Indie magazine and design studio Evermade.