On saturday 7 September an exhibition had its opening night at the Meridian Gallery in San Francisco. The exhibition, called ‘American Beauty: The Opulent Pre-Depression Architecture of Detroit,’ was produced by photographer and good friend of HTC Philip Jarmain.

The subjects of Philip’s photographs are the decaying, yet mesmerizing buildings of Detroit’s hay day. The pictures themselves are amazing, printed at large scale with so much detail, each image is unique and thought provoking. The images alone would attract a great audience, but in a town where PJ isn’t as well known he needed some marketing materials. He tasked us with the design of the exhibits identity, posters, postcards, eNewsletters and tweaking the website he had created.

I wanted to create a wordmark which contextualized with the era of the architecture, the early 1900’s. The resulting mark was created in an Old English style font, something that resonates with Detroit, mainly for their baseball team’s logo, the Detroit Tigers. Their logo mark was created in that same era, and the team wear a refined version of it today.

The visual style of the posters make use of negative space to create more drama and focus on the image, then the information. It took some convincing for PJ to agree with the cropping of his artwork but he finally gave in. We as creative and marketing people know the rationale behind design styles, but putting it to the test doesn’t always produce the results you expect, but when it does it’s really something special!

Belle Isle Aquarium Poster
Highland Park Police Station Poster
Woodward Presbyterian Poster

The poster was shown in a frame/lightbox facing the street at the front of the Meridian building. The gallery reported increased footfall, and called Philip to say it’s the first time in 25 years that the general public stopped and stared at a poster, read the information, and went inside the gallery to enquire, taking gallery materials with them!

Moral of the story, good design matters.

American Beauty is running at the Merdian gallery till October 20, 2013. If you find yourself in San Francisco between now and then I advise you to check it out!

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