Barcelona Studio Forma Is Here to Streamline your Signage

Forma is the Barcelona-based graphic design team whose understated way-finding work for Spanish electrical company Simon showcases their flair for hole-in-one design: nailing brand identity, in the fewest possible number of lines. Forma is a company that works, among other things, to illustrate and fine-tune brand identities. In this case, the brief was to build on the corporate iconography they’ve previously designed for Simon, adapting it to two floor’s worth of office space opened to coincide with the company’s centenary.

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Forma have worked in the past with the likes of Nike USA’s creative team, and this time around were in collaboration with interior designers Areazero 2.0. In keeping with the latter’s design for the new corporate space, these icons are to be printed onto cut vinyl, and are designed to work as well on white walls as they do on the wood and glass surfaces of the space’s interior.

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In keeping with this minimisation of ‘fuss’, Forma models itself as a company on the sort of close-knit workplace and intimate structure that facilitates swift action and close supervision of their idea-based projects. We got in touch with the cosy team to hear more about helping people find their way.

The Plus: What sort of thing influences you guys?
Forma:
Anything surrounding us becomes an influence. Things not necessarily related to graphic design —such as movies, supermarket products, or everyday life objects— can lead us to think about their graphic design elements.

TP: How did you have to adapt the original signage for the new floors?

F:
Since the system we created was already designed to be displayed in small, medium, and large formats, we didn’t have to change it very much. We just had to combine it with the right size and weight of corporate typeface to make it look nice whilst still being strictly functional.

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TP: How do you go about developing icon families?

F:
When facing this kind of project the first thing we do is make sure that we know: what function they are going to serve; how and where are they going to be applied; which are the most challenging limitations; who will use the icons; what the sizes are at which they must work properly; how abstract we can make the icons; whether there will be a need, later, for stop-motion; etc….
As you can see, there are tons of factors you must consider before beginning to design an icon family. Once we have analysed them all, we also look for the brand’s visual resources to develop a series of essential features that we can later apply to a grid that we have specifically generated, in order to make the project recognisable and connected to the brand.

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TP: What is the process behind finding a style that perfectly ‘fits’ a brand?
F:
To find a style that perfectly suits the brand, we have to use its DNA: what makes it different from the rest. It is really difficult to be innovative in a representation of a cloud or a sun. We have designed a huge amount of icons, and we often have to represent the same idea or object. The main challenge is to make an exclusive icon, containing the brand’s DNA. The icon must belong to no one but the brand.
When we draw a sun, if we have designed the system properly, that sun might look like other sun icons – but it will be the only one to fit the family for which it has been designed.

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TP: Is there any icon or logo that you think is due a re-think?

F:
We constantly analyse icons surrounding us. We use Spotify daily and, sadly, its icons are not as well designed as the app is.

TP: What’s next?

F:
Our relationship with Simon is ongoing, and we are working on several projects with them. We have already designed more than 600 icons that are being applied to products, apps, software, website, animations, catalogues and communications of all kinds – we are looking forward to sharing the whole project. We are also in charge of the visual identity of Teatre Nacional de Catalunya (Catalan National Theatre), designing an app for a famous music festival, and working on some books and other stuff.

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