A recent collaboration with the local community resulted in the creation of the official logo for the Italian city Gaiole in Chianti. DIVA course Visual Communication Design Fundamentals Studio II, taught by Ivka Markovic, was approached by the mayor of Gaiole with the specific design request to renew the city logo. The course's regular goals include the teaching of conceptual skills and practical knowledge in the effective application of visual communication disciplines. Prof. Markovic adds that the course "revolves around problem-solving through research, concept development, design including both layout and editing phases, and a strong emphasis on professional critique." Students applied these course approaches to a professional design project that was evaluated step-by-step by Gaiole in Chianti. Prof. Markovic is interviewed here about the experience.


Prof. Markovic, what was the end goal of the Gaiole project?


The project served as a perfect platform for students not just as means to fulfilling our course objectives, but to take it beyond and experience real professional atmosphere: dealing with a (unique) client, understanding the creative brief, research of the real historical and contemporary setting of the client represented, strict and tight deadlines, and finally, the challenge of extracting the most important aspects of information given and delivering it back to client in the form of a minimalist logo. Our end goal was providing the Comune of Gaiole with a number of well-executed and conceptually strong commercial logo solutions to choose from.


Can you describe the work phases involved?


In the first phase, students were introduced to the material. Before visiting Gaiole, they conducted the necessary research and prepared their questions, as well as preliminary sketches. In Gaiole, they received a creative brief, historical, social, and cultural background of the town. In the second phase, students were instructed to develop their concepts (3 each) to critique in class prior to presenting the first draft to the client. This was the difficult phase, as we were dealing with a large amounts of unfamiliar information. We did one class critique and brainstorming session which helped to prepare the first drafts. After the first client critique in the final stage, students transitioned into editing and revisions, and prepared a presentation of 4 final designs for the client.


Tell us about the creative approaches and local contextualization applied.


We were able to visit Gaiole to personally experience the client. The intense research that followed worked well as base for inspiration. When the students had reached the gathering point of all data, the occasional sense of feeling overwhelmed and grappling with info hierarchy was eased by group discussions employing the process of elimination. They were guided to find the most important aspects within the creative brief as well as the information given. With the remaining facts, they easily formed an informational hierarchy, a perfect base for their conceptual development - the client was in fact pleased at the first critique.


What was the interaction between the class and the city like?


Students embraced the town of Gaiole at first sight and the visit was crucial for their work. The group also had to present the first draft to the mayor at the FUA campus, after which the final critique was conducted through Skype. Both critiques went quite well! The town granted certificates for the entire group and artwork for the finalists.
From an instructor's perspective, what are some highlights/milestones reached during the project?
Creating a visual identity for any client is a challenging task. Creating an identity in a classroom setting with a very limited timeframe and for a town representing the Chianti area is a daunting task, both for students and the instructor. This was demonstrated during the first phase where most students may have felt intimidated by the real-life project, tight deadlines, quantity of information, and lack of experience. Once they were allowed to relax and brainstorm within a group setting, I saw their shells "crack open" and ready to deliver truly creative solutions. I was quite impressed.


DIVA participating students: Richard Alvarez Cruz, Samantha Celek, Nicole Ciccone, Mikaela Fortuny, Andrea Hringsdottir, Ramzi Maalouf, Olga Makarova, Sujani Munamalpe, Brian Potopowicz.