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Bold like an elephant

A conversation with Loonatiks Design Crew about Solomon’s new bold design logo, the creative process, and how their work was influenced by Solomon’s history.

Solomon was named after the main character of José Saramago’s book The Elephant’s Journey. How did the story influence your design?

We found the story which inspired the name of the group really interesting. For those who might not know, Solomon or Suleiman was an elephant who traveled to Renaissance Europe when King John III of Portugal presented Solomon as a gift to Archduke Maximilian of Hamburg. Prior to this trip, Solomon had lived in Lisbon for two years, and prior to that, in India. His story has much in common with the lives of people crossing borders and continents in search of a secure life.

Now, in terms of the logo’s design, what we wanted was for the story of Suleiman to be seen in some way, but without using or coming up with usual depictions of the animal. We wanted the imprint of his story to be integrated in the logo in such a way that in essence one does not just see a representation of the elephant.

What other elements did you take into account when creating the design for the logo?

Of course, the character of the Medium played a key role – Solomon is a group of young people focused on presenting truthful and balanced journalism about our society’s “gray issues”. So, the result had to bring out the seriousness of the subject but at the same time have an experimentation and a freshness. We also had to solve a basic problem, we had to create a design which would fit into a pre-existing design environment (Solomon’s website), but without being limited.

Tell us about the creative process behind the design of the Solomon logo.

When we start with a project we read about its history, we analyze its character, we find keywords that we believe represent it and based on the etymology and history of these words in combination with the values of typography we are guided to a design solution. Our main tools are wikipedia and dictionaries.

This was the process we followed for the design of Solomon’s logo. Starting with the name and the history associated with it, the character and the subject of the Medium, all of this had to eventually be incorporated into the logo. As we mentioned above, however, without using representational forms of the animal, which we believe would make it more difficult regarding the use of the logo, in terms of providing solutions. Moreover, this use of representational forms does not reflect the way we design, or our worldview.

The third step was to analyze the characteristics of such an imposing animal, and translate them into the language of typography, it is a living representation of the word “bold” − tall, thus condensed but with firm footprints thus serif (flat ridges). So this is where it came from, the combination of a very bold font with the serif font that Solomon was already using.

How do you decide, in the middle of the creative process, to continue in one direction or another? What is the approach to logo design?

This is now a “simple” process for us. When we began, as a studio we set some design principles which express us as designers and which we follow. Everything we design is filtered in this way, and if it does not comply with these principles, it is rejected. This now works instinctively.

In recent years we have avoided designing logos in the traditional sense of the symbol. We approach this issue as a system where the basic principle is typography. By typography we mean letter design, in which the values of each project are incorporated. Many times we create custom fonts from the original design and so the font itself becomes the system that adapts to the project implementation.

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