Branding a house in Oregon. I’m still digesting it really. Is it so foreign a concept? I stumbled upon something at one of my favorite blogs, Identity Designed, that presents a project based on the dynamism of sun play across an architectural submission to an annual international contest called the Solar Decathlon. Their submission is called the Odooproject. The visual identity for the project was developed by a Hungarian design agency called Hidden Characters. The identity uses the plan of the house, and the passing of light across it, as the fundamental piece to establish a logo and graphic language. Immediately you can the relationship between the ecological awareness of the house and the visual design that represents the entry for the contest. As a dynamic system, the logo is not one graphic, it is a graphic determined by the position of the sun, something that is ever-changing and that’s the pulse of project.
Branding an architectural structure certainly isn’t something new, but the goal for developing such graphics is usually rooted in the presence, influence or preservation of the structure. The White House for example has a logo. So does Monticello and The Alamo and the Trump Tower. It would seem, though, that a primary instinct for marketing such places is merchandise. Why is it, when we’re first presented with a logo for something, that we immediately envision it on a t-shirt, or a water bottle, or a key chain? We want the word to spread, for people to get excited, but more importantly, to capitalize on that excitement.
Researching brand identities for architectural structures isn’t yielding anything for the House in Oregon though. No, this project is more personal. There are no plans, nor will there ever be, of creating merchandise for the house. In fact, the whole idea of the house is that it is out in the middle of nowhere. It’s a secluded respite from the world of marketing and branding and consumerism. Visuals that I’ve been gravitating towards are more in line with heraldry, ranch brands or kamon. I want to dive into those soon, but honestly, the best inspiration for a project so personal is the subject itself. I contemplated doing an inspiration board for this project, but I don’t really think it would work in the same way; I’m not sure it would serve me, as the subject isn’t a patchwork of ideas that are being blended to form something new. It doesn’t seem like the right choice to understand the subject either—the House in Oregon isn’t about trends or a unique chemical reaction between forms and color and type. It’s what it is, a house in Oregon, away from it all, away from the trends. So, Mountain Man and Dotty sent along some stunning visuals of the area and the house. You can tell easily by the space and vacancy of the home snapshots that this place is personal and special to them. No collage shows the navigation and breadth of the area like a gallery.
I mean, seriously. Gorgeous area with a real secure relationship to the life around it. The home fits in the trees like a baby bird in a nest. The images are devoid of car noises or cash registers. The light exudes family and peace. It’s like Christmas in the form of a river house. The surrounding area, with its vistas and waterfalls is like some sort of Valhalla. You don’t want to put something like this on a billboard or a shot glass, you want its representation to fit into the landscape, like a hiking trail symbol or some mark you’d make with a hatchet to remember how to get home.
And that’s just the soul of the project: we’re not looking to place a mark on a house that brandishes outward how magnificent that place is. We’re looking to draw inward with a symbol a reminder to a family where they’ll find their home.