The Made Shop - Adobe Remix
Inspiration Is
When Adobe asked us to re-imagine their logo, we were super excited. The Made Shop works primarily in graphic design, but our background comes from architecture and object design, and we enjoy blurring the distinctions between those fields and getting our hands dirty making physical objects for graphic projects whenever we can. Among the many tools we love and rely on in our shop on a daily basis — pencils, Photoshop CC, power tools, Illustrator CC, sketchbooks, After Effects CC, exacto knifes, InDesign CC, erasers — a good many of them have that Adobe logo on them — so we couldn't wait to get our hands on it.
We just recently gave a talk about how the (physical) tools and materials you use have an inherent friction, or grain, that influences and shapes your project as it pushes back against you — which is a frustrating but also wonderful thing. But the best digital tools should be just the opposite — they are inherently frictionless. They recede and disappear while still invisibly supporting and enabling you to capture and craft your ideas.
So when asked to re-imagine the Adobe logo and given two weeks to complete it, we started with a simple question: How do you capture the aesthetic of good creativity software? But it struck us quickly that there is no inherent aesthetic. It's not what it is, but what you make with it. It's an invisible armature. It helps shape and support and present your work. So we decided that, rather than making a single new logo, we'd spend the first week designing and constructing the logo as a simple, empty, clear cube. And then during the second week, we'd fill the cube each day with any number of materials that reflect our daily design process, frustrations, creative fuel (coffee, of course), inspiration, challenges, and so on as the mood struck us.
The final re-imagining of the Adobe logo then is not any single image — but rather a sort of open-ended structure and process for creating an ever-expanding set of images from whatever raw material and ideas surround all of us each day.
Watch this short time lapse video of us working over the course of the week on the seven cubes:
On the first day of work we decided to turn the Adobe cube into a fishbowl. Starting work on any large design project can often feel a bit like moving into a fishbowl: exposed, on display, admired, trapped. We started with 300 pounds of ubiquitous aquarium rock, added 22 gallons of (aerated) water, and then brought in 130 temporary fish friends to spend the day with us. (And I should say — no fish were harmed, and all were returned alive and happy to the local fish store at the end of the day).
On the second day of work we went back to one of the most basic tools of design: the pencil. We bought 8,000 pencils, stacked half of them eraser-side-out, and then went through a series of trials and errors trying to figure out an efficient way to sharpen the rest of them (in the end we found a power drill could sharpen an entire pencil in about 2.5 seconds) to fill the 'A' with the shavings.
(after the project we donated the whole pencils to a local school)

Early in any design project, apart from the actual work of designing, you often find yourself ruminating, mulling, and just chewing on the problem (often outside of work, driving, showering). While it doesn't always feel particularly productive, I find it enjoyable and have a hunch that this seemingly mindless circling ends up setting the stage for later insights and breakthrough.
On the fourth day of work, we wanted to capture the feeling of being struck by an idea late at night. As any creative worker knows, some of our best ideas and breakthroughs come in the middle of the night, glowing, ambiguous, and enticing. We filled 500 balloons with small LED lights, then broke out some fluorescent black lights, drained the ink from a bunch of highlighters, and poured the glowing mixture into the 'A' while shooting away.

Apparently designers are second only to medical professionals when it comes to caffeine intake. It felt only appropriate to follow-up the "Late Nite Ideas" cube with healthy dose of our favorite socially-acceptable stimulant. Over the course of the day we brewed just over 350 cups of pour-over coffee (a year's supply!) into the cube — surrounded by enough sugar to rot an army's teeth.

On the sixth day, we wanted to simply make something simple, raw, and beautiful. We filled the cube with a small-city-garden's-worth of rich soil, and then spent the day nurturing our inner florists cutting and arranging just under 1000 fresh flowers. The shop smelled wonderful all day.

All along we knew that we wanted to do something with smoke on the last day of the project. We'd previously worked with smoke bombs on an albums cover (Son Lux — check it out) and had a blast and loved the beautiful chaos. It also felt like taking something so ephemeral, shapeless, and fleeting and capturing that within our clear prism captured the essence of our idea: the best tools, digital or physical, are those that let us capture the ephemeral, shape it, pin it down, and re-present it.
The Made Shop - Adobe Remix