Nov 06, 2014
This is an amazing study about the new identity of the City of Porto in Portugal. In this post you will see all the notes that enforced the decisions taken on this new identity that now represents the entire city. Enjoy!
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New identity for the city of Porto
In June of 2014, we were invited to design the new identity for the city of Porto and its city hall.
The challenge presented was very clear. The city needed a visual system, a visual identity that could organize and simplify communication with the citizens, and could at the same time define a clear hierarchy, bringing together the city and the city hall. We needed to represent Porto, a global city, the city for everyone.
That city could never be an empty entity, or a mere geographic location, restrained by physical boundaries. It is filled with life, with character, with icons and symbols, with habits and ways of living, with landmarks, landscapes and a very particular horizon. It could not be summed up in a few buildings. It is alive, and its identity shouldn’t be fixed or closed. It needed to breathe and grow every day.
Ancient, Very Noble, Always Loyal, Undefeated City of Porto.
Porto has always been a very passionate city. It has a scale that allows for a relationship of proximity. Here we feel cozy, we feel at home. We develop a feeling a ownership with every landmark, with every street. The city is ours. And with each step we recognize its accent and its attitude.
The cause is the city. The cause is Porto.
This idea of ownership felt very important for us. This unique home that each one of us finds in the city needed to be represent. Everyone should have their own Porto.
With this idea in mind, one of our first tasks was to understand how others view the city, and what comes out of that observation. It’s obvious and even cliché to identify the big icons like Torre dos Clérigos, Casa da Música, Ribeira, Fundação Serralves, the river. These icons go from the incredible gastronomy to the unmistakable accent of the north of Portugal. The Port wine, the São João festivities, the old and the contemporary, the landmarks and the familiar, the list of “Portos” continues.
For each citizen Porto represents a different thing. If you ask someone “What is your Porto?” the number of answers is endless. We felt like we needed to give each citizen their own Porto. We needed to show all the cities that exist in this one territory.
Thus it became clear to us that Porto needed to be much more than a single icon, much more than a single logo. It needed complexity. It needed life. It needed stories. It needed personality.
Looking at Porto from an aesthetic point of view we found the inspiration we were looking for in the blue tiles spread all across the city. Although the city is known for a wide range of colorful tiles, with patterns and drawings that go from the totally geometric to the fully illustrative, only the blue tiles were used to tell stories. The blue tiles show our history, talk about the city and its landmarks, they are narrative by nature.
Inspired by the stories in the tiles we developed more than seventy geometric icons that represented the city and its people. The icons were designed based on a grid that could connect them with each other, creating a continuous network that evokes a tile panel. These icons became a visual code to represent the city. A code that can live by itself, viewing each symbol individually, or as a network of symbols that show the never-ending complexity of our city. The icons could also be more illustrative, telling stories, showing the landscape, translating our passions.
Porto is a city with a strong personality. It has a recognizable attitude that is unmistakably ours. So living along the network of symbols, we needed a brand with a clear message, one that summed up our identity.
The word was enough. In a simple direct affirmation of who we are and what we are. Nothing else but Porto. The city is undisputed, unavoidable, incomparable. It’s Porto.
In the word, in the dot, we visualize the orality of the city. As if the attitude of Porto was just waiting to be revealed. It is the blunt affirmation of what we are.
One of the things we realized when designing the icons was that the list of things to represent was endless. To each person we talked to, a new possible icon came up. The list kept growing from an initial twenty icons, to the current seventy and counting.
It is meant to be an open system. Through suggestions, drawing panels and interviews we are trying to collect as much input as possible, and every week a couple of new icons appear.
We hope we can make this identity feel as much like home as possible to the citizens of Porto. We want it to be theirs. Their ideas and their participation will be taken into account and we’ll build these stories together. Porto is a shared identity. It is not meant to be done or closed. The openness and versatility of this system allows the identity to reveal its various stages of maturity, to grow and to develop in a dynamic, mutable environment. Our ultimate desire is that the identity can work for each Porto citizen, that they can relate to it and find themselves in it. In the diversity of the symbols we want to find unity.
Porto. is the romantic feeling that shows loyalty until the end.
Client: Câmara Municipal do Porto Studio: White Studio Year: 2014 Art Direction: Eduardo Aires Design project: Ana Simões, Raquel Rei Designers: Raquel Rei, Ana Simões, Lucille Queriaud, Joana Mendes, Maria Sousa, Dário Cannatà Motion: Tiago Campeã Photography: Alexandre Delmar