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Formulas for Libraries
Facing up to reality
Back in 2007, I was among the first to start thinking about how to help libraries reduce their expenditure for their physical environments. Despite budget cuts, it was important for libraries to have a clear identity and distinguish themselves. The idea was to create a universal design language for one organization to roll out into various branches, which would create brand consistency as well as financial efficiency. Focusing on library architecture and interior design, I designed 5 formulas for different organizations between 2008 and 2009. During this time, the Dutch library organization also started a similar development.
Despite budget cuts, it was important for libraries to have a clear identity and distinguish themselves.
As an architect, I was taught that architecture is the pinnacle of art. From an architectural perspective, it can be disillusioning when the reality of us living in a commercial world strikes. Although architecture plays an important role, I think that the origin of everything visible to us in this commercial world is the brand. Since we make sense of our surroundings based on context, all brand aspects must be mutually reinforcing to create a sturdy brand. Budget cuts led to the necessity of combining things, and a formula was the simplest and most effective way to achieve this and to keep merging organizations manageable.
The ingredients of the formulas
As Ruud Boer states, a brand’s mentality is the origin of its visual identity and thus of all its communications. Its mentality gives rise to what is experienced, what is heard, felt and what it seen. Advancing further, the brand’s interaction with the outside world takes shape through various brand design carriers that are based on the brand’s visual identity, including internal and external communications, products and services and the company itself. Customers encounter all of these design carriers on their random customer journey, and each day again, each journey is different. Brand consistency is of the very essence of clear communications. That’s why architecture has to be part of the brand ecosystem; there’s just no way out.
Brands construct and maintain their identity based on one of two main approaches. First, a strict standardization can produce cohesiveness as it remains consistent everywhere; this approach also makes branches interchangeable. The second option is a core idea that is open to adaptation by each facility or location. Acknowledging the fact that architecture is only one element within a dynamic interactive ecosystem of brand design carriers, has enabled me to focus on the organizations themselves as brands from a comprehensive point of view that includes architecture, marketing and interior design. As the formulas developed still leave room for couleur locale, organizations are able to adapt to specific local needs, while remaining consistent with their brand.