Sorry, full access to our website is available to Only!
Become a Member today and get benefits listed below.
In June of 2014, we were invited to design the new identity for the city of Porto and its City Hall.
The challenge presented was very clear. The city needed a visual system, a visual identity that could organize and simplify the communication with citizens and that could, at the same time, define a clear hierarchy, bringing together the city and the city hall. We needed to represent Porto, a global city, a city for everyone.
This idea of ownership felt very important for us. This unique home that each one of us findsin the city needed to be represented. Everyone should have their own Porto. With this idea in mind, one of our first tasks was to understand how others view the city and what came out of that observation. It is obvious and even "cliché" to identify the big icons like Torre dos Clérigos, Casa da Música, Ribeira, Fundação Serralves, Douro river. These icons go from the incredible gastronomy to the unmistakable accent of the north of Portugal. The Port wine, the São João festivities, the old and the contemporary, the landmarks and the familiar, the list of “Portos” continues. For each citizen, Porto represents a different thing. If you ask someone “What is your Porto?”, the number of answers is endless. We felt like we needed to give each citizen their own Porto. We needed to show all the cities that exist in this one territory. Thus, it became clear to us that Porto needed to be much more than a single icon, much more than a single logo. It needed complexity. It needed life. It needed stories. It needed personality. Looking at Porto from an aesthetic point of view we found the inspiration we were looking for in the blue tiles spread all across the city. Although the city is known for a wide range of colorful tiles, with patterns and drawings that go from the totally geometric to the fully illustrative, only the blue tiles were used to tell stories. The blue tiles show our history, talk about the city and its landmarks, they are narrative by nature. Inspired by the stories in the tiles, we developed more than seventy geometric icons that represented the city and its people. The icons were designed based on a grid that could connect them with each other, creating a continuous network that evokes a tile panel. These icons became a visual code to represent the city. A code that can live by itself, viewing each symbol individually or as a network of symbols that show the endless complexity of our city. The icons could also be more illustrative, telling stories, showing the landscape, translating our passions. One of the things we realized when designing the icons was that the list of things to represent was endless. To each person we talked to, a new possible icon came up. The list kept growing from an initial twenty icons, to the current seventy and counting. It is meant to be an open system. Through suggestions, drawing panels and interviews, we tried to collect as much input as possible, and every week a couple of new icons appeared. Our goal was to make this identity feel as much like home as possible to the citizens of Porto. We wanted it to be theirs. Their ideas and their participation were taken into account and we built these stories together. Porto is a shared identity. It is not meant to be done or closed. The openness and versatility of this system allows the identity to reveal its various stages of maturity, to grow and to develop in a dynamic, mutable environment. Our ultimate desire is that the identity can work for each Porto citizen, which they can relate to and find themselves in it. In the diversity of the symbols we want to find unity.
Client and citizens of Porto identified with the new visuals instantly. The new Porto identity received national and worldwide positive recognition.