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The Chicago Design Archive is a cultural resource archiving the "now-ness" of each year in Chicago's communication design community with design a… Read More
The Chicago Design Archive is a cultural resource archiving the "now-ness" of each year in Chicago's communication design community with design artifacts dating from 1869. For Archive13, Nick Adam of Firebelly Design and Matt Wizinsky of Studio Junglecat + UIC's Innovation Center collaborated with Archive Creative Director, Bob Zeni, to define the 2013 voice and image across various identity and promotional materials. CLIENT: Chicago Deisgn Archive / Archive13 co-organized by STA + AIGA Chicago | DESIGNERS: Matt Wizinsky + Nick Adam | ARCHIVE DIRECTOR: Bob Zeni | DEVELOPER: Bill Talsma Read Less
"This should be about design being more than a beauty pageant or merely a utility of business. It’s about the power of design to tell compelling stories, capture imaginations, and build communities around common drives." - Bob Zeni, The Chairman of Archive13.
The Archive competition is an annual occurrence canonizing regional nowness of Chicago communication design.
Over the past few years (Thirst's Archive11+ Plural's Archive12) Archive's recognition has been growing and has lead to the 2013 partnering of the Society of Typographic Artist (STA) + AIGA Chicago. Building on work that has solidified it's reputation, Matt Wizinksy + Nick Adam's goal was to work with Bob Zeni to demonstrate that the Archive has arrived. It was time to take the stage, to be bold, and to set itself apart. 
Detail of Issac's head from the Sacrifice poster.
How do we tell a story about creating, appreciating, and celebrating greatness?
Rather looking to the past to pay homage, we created a voice and presence that embodies nowness and stands with great courage. We created a custom image manipulation software that works as controllable machine glitching built through processing. Alongside our geometric gliched images is a custom titling typeface based every major moment in letter-symbols history. For imagry, we began with history's most successful stories.
Full recto of the Sacrifice poster.
We looked to history for successful stories that have stood the test of time and asked the following:
What is similar? What can we learn? What does this mean for a community of designers?
We saw that every society creates its own culture and develops its own mythology. Mythology is found in the symbolic codes of the community including its visual representations, pageantry, and rituals. We also found that it is only through a belief in, a commitment to, and a shared understanding of the common culture that a community will thrive. We discovered likeness in the Archive, as it is a yearlong series of rituals, rich with meaning and metaphor, that fulfill its purpose by selecting and celebrating outstanding Chicago design. 
These rituals align with those of any civil or religious society and follow certain archetypes: Sacrifice, Judgment, and Worship.
Recto and verso of the Sacrifice poster.
The first act of the Archive ritual is 'Sacrifice': a call for submissions, for designers to submit their work. 
Greatness demands sacrifice. Heart and soul. Blood, sweat, and tears. So many hours of precious time. It takes a lot to go beyond good or decent. What do you sacrifice to create work that is exceptional, transcendent, timeless? Offer up your best work— in fact, offer up yourself—to face the cruel scrutiny of judgment. Is your sacrifice worthy of praise?
What will you sacrifice?
More than submission of work, greatness means endurance, devotion, commitment, and yes even sometimes suffering.
Ziggurats were once a place for sacrifice, here one is mixed in z-space with directional triangles. A nod to the access contemporary life has to historical information and its nature to be plucked from the sky.
The main image of the Sacrifice poster is from the 1616 painting by Pedro Orrente "Sacrifice of Isaac". Perhaps the most successful story history has on the topic of submission.
The typeface is a current work in progress that is based upon every major alphabetic evolution covering proto-sinaitic, phoenician, greek, et cetera and so forth.
Whatever it takes.... through each phase of the moon. Blood, Sweat, and Tears. Detail from the Sacrifice poster.
Verso of Sacrifice poster. We are presented with the radical constructivist side. Sword of Damocles, representing the precarious nature of human's condition, the false sense of power and the trade-off between risk and security.
Detail of verso of the Sacrifice poster.
Detail of titling type on verso of the Sacrifice poster. 
Second act of the Archive ritual is 'Judgment': a call to the community to attend Judges’ Night, as well to prepare for the judging.
The sharp line of judgment neatly divides the best from the rest. Put your best foot forward, place your hat in the ring, and step up to be judged. Find out whether you measure up to the best. Will you be canonized in the book of greats? Will you join the ranks of those often-spoken names that came before you? Or will you be left behind and forgotten by history?
Are you prepared for judgment?
Recto of the Judgment poster.
Recto and verso of the Judgment poster.
Judgment in our field must go beyond subjective, it requires active critique and complete scrutiny. We must prepare for both ascent and rejection. 
Talent only gets you so far. Courage delivers you. Are you prepared for glory?
Detail of text from the Judgment poster.
The 'weighing of the heart' as shown in the 'Papyrus of Ani' a version of the Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead. An ultimate moment of judgment where fate is determined by one's heart weighed against a feather. Perhaps their game was rigged.
Detail of title text on the recto side of the Judgment poster. A letter-spacing attribute in setting our titling is to create capital ligatures while maintaing the spacial relationships found in Islamic calligraphy Kufic, Naskh, and Ṯuluṯ.
Detail of text from the Judgment poster.
Verso of Judgment poster. Feather of Maat, the measure from the 'Egyptian Book of the Dead' that determined whether souls of the departed would reach the paradise of afterlife.
Detail of text from the Judgment poster.
The third and final closing act to the annual Archive ritual is 'Worship' were we gather to praise and celebrate our community, and decide how this moment will be remembered by history.
Heroes, villains, icons, and idols. The revered saints and notorious sinners whose tales we pass from one generation to the next. We all walk in the shadow of those greats who came before us. But, who are the heroes amongst us? Whose deeds will be remembered? We gather to praise and rejoice in the greatness of our whole community. How will our moment be written by history?
How will you worship?
Recto of the Worship poster.
Recto and verso of the Worship poster.
We speak highly of our colleagues and our mentors, those from our past and those from our future. We celebrate our works together.
Through each of the three poster fronts, Z-space is explored as method of constructing both image and story. It is a natural build similar to the way contemporary culture works within the ethers of information and data around us.
Detail from the Judgment poster.
It is important to note, that while a made form may be exceptional and the maker of the form may be brilliant, it is not until the client approves or the intended audience responds that the form has reached its height of exceptionality.
The salah is one of the 5 pillars of Islam, it is an ritual prayer pattern that seems to have existed since the start of history. It is the construct of repetitious actions and words that brings the prayer to be their greatest self. Process is a successful methodology in achieving greatness.
Verso of the Worship poster.
The Ox Head symbol is the greatest human creation. Carved into surface, the Ox head birthed the Alphe that led to the Alpha, the built the Alphabet and today has informed the 'A' letter. From the Ox Head history was born. 
Detail of the title text from the Worship poster.
Wanting our digital presence to align with all of our conceptual processes and work we worked with Bill Talsma to build the site utilizing parallax.
Each section is constructed with two frames, one static the other parallax.
The parallax page consists of 4 camera planes, creating a feeling of depth and movement. Each plane moves at a different rate of speed during the scrolling.
If you are a practicing designer in Chicago, submit to Archive.
You can learn more about Archive13 here.
You can see over a 150 years of Chicago design cataloged in the Archive here.
About the creative team:
Equal parts nerd and rebel, Matt Wizinsky translates his discontent with the status quo through acts of design, research, education, and collaborative productions. His independent practice, Studio Junglecat, is a hub of investigative activities that include projects in communications, exhibitions, public interactions, social activism, and media experimentation. He also holds a split appointment as educator and researcher at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Design and Innovation Center.
A creative-analytic with a conscience, Nick Adam’s work as a designer and a communication artist is focused towards improving humankind. He specializes in understanding how audiences relate to messaging, environments and each other. Nick employ's design to create work deemed as invaluable, he defines success as creating catalysts that precipitate change, positive shifts, and new understandings of being. Nick practices strategy and design at Firebelly, one of Chicago's leading creative studios.