Arctic Adaptations

Posted by on May 13, 2013 in Blog, Work | No Comments

I have been under the radar for quite sometime now and there has been a reason for it!. Together with my sister Fei, I have had the honour of working with Lateral Office on their ongoing Canadian Venice Biennale project by designing a wordmark, typeface, website and other assets. The scope of this project was to design and create the branding and website for their project that will be displayed at Canada’s Pavilion in Venice during the 2014 Venice Biennale.

The work between my sister and I were divided by our strengths, however we help eachother throughout the way if its needed. She would do most of the coding and website creation, while I would do the branding and logo creation. The stages we went through were to first make the brand of the project, that we then applied and converted into a website framework.

Graphical Logo Iterations

We had multiple face to face meetings with our client (Lateral Office) and here is the progression on the branding. Initially we wanted to make a logo as an iconic graphical element. After getting a thorough understanding of the project that they were doing, we came up with some draft logo’s that we though had the essence of what they were trying to represent.

Below are the four graphical iterations we made with a small bullet point list rationale of why we created them.

  • Graphic_Arctic_Logo-04
  • Graphic_Arctic_Logo-03
  • Graphic_Arctic_Logo-02
  • Graphic_Arctic_Logo-01

After showing these in a meeting with our client, the feedback was that they wanted to tone down on the graphical elements and make it more of a wordmark where the title of their project would be included (that incorporates the words “Arctic Adaptation”).

Wordmark Iterations

Since this would be a short-lived project that would span for a 2-3 years, including the name of the project would be better to get an immediate understanding of the project. As there would be tons of projects displayed at Venice during this event, having a purely graphical logo would not have the time to create a lasting impact compared to a catchy name like “Arctic Adaptations”.

With that in mind, we scrapped our previous logo iterations and started anew with this new mindframe. To have the name “Arctic Adaptations” embedded within the logo/wordmark. Some of our initial tests are shown below.

  • Wordmark_Arctic_Logo-05-11
  • Wordmark_Arctic_Logo-05-10
  • Wordmark_Arctic_Logo-05-08
  • Wordmark_Arctic_Logo-05-03
  • Wordmark_Arctic_Logo-05-02

One of the earlier wordmark iterations that stuck out during a meeting was one where I had created custom type with lines in Adobe Illustrator (the first and second slide in the slideshow above). We decided to go with the typographic treatment on the second slide, which then lead to a whole new adventure… creating a CUSTOM TYPEFACE :D

Custom Typeface, Arctica

Since this was a timesensitive project, it was important for the client that the wordmark would be available ASAP so that they could start using it. My mindset was that it was important to have both the typeface and wordmark produced at the same time so thats what I ended up doing.

The first hurdle was to streamline a workflow that allowed me to use the tool that I was already familiar with (Adobe Illustrator) together with a typographic creating software. What i stumbled upon was a post by Sigurður Ármannsson on how to draw and import letters from AI into Fontlab Studio By hacking this process to my liking, I managed to get a workflow that would be highly efficient between AI and Fontlab Studio. Let the typeface making begin!


Arctica was born! It is a sans-serif typeface that operates only in allcaps. The letters are mono line width, making them easily used for applications like CNC milling (which it will hopefully experience soon!).The typeface is still in Alpha stage and I am unsure if it will go any further. However, here is a download link of Arctica for the curious!

The wordmarks that evolved out of this typeface can be found below. The concept is that the 3 A’s stack ontop of eachother, each emphasizing a different line in the letter “A”. As it was translated into two other languages (French and Inuktitut) the solid rectangle it created was broken up but the concept still stays the same.
3 AA website wordmarks-04

Website Creation

Our work had now come to a point where we could start creating the website! The easiest way to check out the website is to actually go to it with this link! If you dont have the luxury to check it out live, here are some screenshots. Ignore the Reddit tab :D

  • 5_AA
  • 2_AA
  • 3_AA
  • 4_AA
  • 1_AA

The website is build up by modifying an existing WordPress Theme called Thesis. We made a child theme and started modifying it. Some features to note is its responsive design, interesting scrolling header (how the paragraph text disappears behind the header), Images that go beyond the paragraph sides,

As this project will go on throughout 2014, we are constantly doing small things here and there together with Lateral Office to make this a great Canadian pavilion at Venice in 2014. Down the road, hopefully I get to have a hand in the swag bag that they are planning to make! Looking forward to create some cool loot gifts and products together with them!

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