The Athenaeum of Philadelphia • Autumn 2021
The initial brief was to help The Athenaeum of Philadelphia (founded in 1814) by providing consistency and coherence to their visual identity with a branding guide. To deliver any brand guidelines document effectively, both the client and designer need to fully understand the brand. So we set about crafting a few pieces of print collateral, then we were able to unlock the treasures that come together to represent The Athenaeum today.
Photo of The Athenaeum Reading Room
In the summer of 2021 I joined Catchafire, a US based volunteering platform. I was delighted to be matched with The Athenaeum of Philadelphia, and the rest is history.
Client: The Athenaeum of Philadelphia
The centre of The Athenaeum crest features the ancient Greek goddess Athena, who is associated with wisdom, handicraft, and warfare. As part of my research I visited the Temple of Athena (situated in Troy, Turkey), which dates from the 2nd century BC. Carefully refining the crest was the first step, to increasing the legibility of the brand – especially online and across its social channels. The resulting Athenaeum crest is cleaner and more flexible in its application.
Oswald Bold is used for Athenaeum headings and key brand information. Oswald is a reworking of the classic style historically represented by the ‘Alternate Gothic’ sans serif typefaces. The characters were initially re-drawn and reformed to better fit the pixel grid of standard digital screens.
Work Sans is a typeface family based loosely on early Grotesques, which was used for Athenaeum body copy. The Regular weight and others in the middle of the family are optimised for on-screen text usage at medium sizes and can also be used in print design.
The grid structures used are based upon the geometric Italianate Revival style architecture.
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