London-based studio Zak Group have art directed the Chicago Architecture Biennial, America’s largest international survey of contemporary architecture in North America.
Titled ‘Make New History’, Zak Group’s “flexible identity” is built from a bright colour palette of pink and blue, “a reinterpretation of the industrial colour code devised by Faber Birren for Du Post factories,” explains the studio. The typographic treatment takes inspiration from the city, drawing upon “the legacy of Chicago émigrés designers who transformed language into images through composition and repetition”.
The entire identity again is influenced by the biennial’s home, referencing “two histories that intersected in Chicago during The New Bauhaus – the history of colour in architecture and the history of typographic experimentation”. Zak Kyes, a partner of the studio says the identity’s process developed as the studio “looked at the past in order to develop a visual language for the future”.
Zak Group collaborated with artistic directors and curators of the biennial Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee from La-based practice Marklee to visualise the event. “Collaborating with Zak Group on the biennial has been an immersive experience into total design,” says Mark. “The biennial’s identity highlights the essential role graphic design has played in the invention of new architectural histories.”
The studio’s work includes a bespoke signage system for Chicago Cultural Center as well as six other sites in the city, way finding graphics including “freestanding printed and interactive signs, mounted on custom-made steel and concrete stands,” and a catalogue published by Lars Muller Publishers investigating “the importance of history in contemporary architectural production”.
The Chicago Architecture Biennial opens on 16 September.
About the Author
Lucy (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a staff writer in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In January 2019 she was made deputy editor and in November 2021, became a senior editor predominantly working on It’s Nice That's partnerships. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about creative projects for the site or potential partnerships.