Over on Brand New today, Armin Vit writes about Wellesley’s recent identity update (designed by Base). Essentially, it’s a modified Garamond W; nothing too groundbreaking (not that it needs to be), attractive or even interesting. What is interesting, though, is Wellesley art professor Pat Bowman’s discussion of the new mark and the underlying theories that informed it.
Around the 3:39 mark, Bowman starts articulating the design nuances of new Wellesley W. She points out that the modified character has a uniform weight to all strokes which she says “creates a sense of stasis and stability.” Shortly thereafter she describes it as “balletic” and then says that the qualities that make it static also “create a sense of excitement.” In listening to her presentation, I was struck by just how easy it is — especially for a person in a position of authority — to say just about anything and have it sound sensible. In what way, exactly, is stasis exciting? It isn’t. In every sense, stasis refers to a total lack of movement, action or progress. It is stagnation, the cessation of all activity. Hardly balletic.
Bowman sounds authoritative and convincing, but her assessment of the formal function of the new mark — at least in terms of its character — is more wishful thinking than critical analysis. I wonder if this is what designers sound like when we post-rationalize our work?
For my money, the following is a far more convincing ode to the letter W: