Pilchuck Glass School Campus Branding
YEAR & TIMELINE
2021 | 12 Weeks
Student Project | Pilchuck Glass School
Branding | Wayfinding Signage | Advertising
Christy Rosenlund: Branding | Logo | Building Icons | Map| Business Cards
Illustrator | Photoshop | Blender Aero
Pilchuck Glass School is a world renowned education center for glass arts nestled in the Cascade Mountains.
Pilchuck has grown organically over time so they have not established a cohesive brand identity. The sprawling campus is difficult to navigate and needs to support the school’s investment in wheelchair accessibility and the international community of students, teachers, and residents.
The branding captures the artistic journey and the physical trek through the campus. This solution references the attributes of the medium of glass in all of its varied states. The Campus experience welcomes everyone by communicating beyond language and accommodating a range of sight lines.
The primary audience of Pilchuck Glass School are the students and artists taking coursework and enrolling in residencies who are fostering and advocating for the future glass work in the arts. The secondary audience of Pilchuck Glass School are its instructors, teachers, staff, volunteers, donors, trustees, volunteers, customers, and collectors.
We began our research by interviewing the Executive Director and a lab technician at Pilchuck and touring the campus in Stanwood, WA. This gave us insider knowledge about the current needs of the school, how it functions, and its history. What began as a one-summer glassblowing workshop has grown into the world’s most comprehensive center for glass art education. Pilchuck Glass School offers courses in digital fabrication, printing, modeling, glass and electronics, glass and ceramics, model and mold fabrication, neon, plasma, flameworking, printmaking, writing and equipment fabrication. In addition to their general course offerings, Pilchuck offers residency programs, wherein artists are invited to stay on campus to explore their craft and share their expertise. Lastly, Pilchuck hosts youth workshops wherein local students are invited to campus for an immersive retreat.
The brand mark is a visual representation of the Wild Artist Within. The physical and artistic journey that Pilchuck students traverse through is imperfect and yet contained. While the flow of the linework undulates, angles are used to resemble the iconic architecture and landscape on campus.
Cool colors were inspired by the natural surroundings on campus, such as the swimming hole and the mossy forest floor. Warm colors were derived from the hot, fiery, and bold action that typically takes place in a hot shop.
In order to accurately represent the artist's journey, the brand employs a sans serif font with variation in stroke widths. Gopher is used throughout the design system for the logo and headlines. It is bold enough to stand on its own while not commanding attention when paired with other graphic elements. Work Sans is a secondary font used for body copy and on signage for clarity. This font was chosen to support the visual style of the brand without competing with other elements.
Signage was created to enhance the journey of discovery. The Executive Director explained that any wayfinding should be lower to the ground so it doesn’t overtake the natural beauty and to accommodate the sight lines of people in wheelchairs. Transparency is used as a constant reminder of the glass arts, which is foundational to Pilchuck’s legacy. In our research, we found that glass can’t be left outside due to fire concerns so we opted to use Lexan and cast resin with metal.
The directional sign is based on the blowpipe since glassblowing is the origin and heart of the school. The top of the directional sign is a lamp that acts as a beacon to help visitors navigate at night. The pointing arms draw from the logo and articulate the winding trek the artist will have to take to find their destination.
LOCATION IDENTIFICATION SIGNS
Three types of building identification signs are used to indicate whether they are a studio, administrative building, or for campus amenities. These are distinguished by color and shapes that show different glass processes–flat work (shards), flamework (molten liquid), and mold work (bowl).
The Monumental sign at the entrance to Pilchuck welcomes visitors. Like the directional sign that acts as a beacon at the center of campus life, the monumental sign takes the shape of molten glass on a blowpipe.
Icons used throughout the map and wayfinding system communicate beyond language. The building icons are based on Pilchuck’s previous logo to create an enticing visual vocabulary that honors the legacy of the school.
BRANDING IN ACTION
The new merchandise system moves away from commemoration towards a utilitarian purpose. The primary feature of the business cards is the die-cut linework. The cutout represents transparency within the organization and the medium of the glass arts.