Critical Mass Studio (CM-S) is a London based design collective employing architecture, science and engineering to push the boundaries of the language of design. Specializing in audio/visual installations and experience design for events and brands and creative visualization for products and services, the collective's solutions are both innovative and inspired.
Much like phonons and pixels which make up the building blocks of our audio/visual culture, critical mass in physics represents the smallest amount of fissile material needed to sustain nuclear fission.
YuZhou Wu, the founder of CM-S approached us to design a full identity for the studio. Seeing that the full name of the collective is rather long, we decided to design a more compact marque as a complement to the full wordmark.
For the design of the marque, we divided the name into two entities, one being the primary 'Critical Mass', followed by the defining 'Studio'. Securing the shorter domain, cm-studio.co.uk, also helped inform the design of the marque. Wanting to illustrate the studio's way of building experiences using architecture and digital technology, we combined regular glyphs and their pixelated counterparts.
"For more than two decades, typography and screen technology have not been dissociated. While the impact of the screen on the design has remained an ongoing issue for designers, Nicolas Eigenheer capitalized on the limitation of the pixel to research how technological parameters could create new forms in typography." — An excerpt of Optimo's description of the typeface PX Grotesk, that was used for the identity.
A greeting – 'have a wonderful day', was translated into Chinese using Google Translate, resulting in a boxy 美好的一天, verbally reminiscent of the voice of an artificial intelligence trying to communicate with a human being. This greeting was used throughout the identity to further emphasize the meeting of physical and digital and to tie the identity to the Chinese heritage of the studio's members.
For the colour scheme, we were inspired by the pale reflections of distant neon lights in the urban landscape. As a part of the project, we also designed two neon signs for CM-S' London office (shot by Shaun Bloodworth for this case study).