More on OCAD identity

June 14, 2011

It was very recently brought to my attention that the new innovative identity concept so enthusiastically endorsed by OCAD, was not so original after all. Turns out a similar approach was used in 2007 by Samata-Mason for the identity of… are you ready for this?… another art school.

So, at first glance, my proposed approach – the one I presented to OCAD’s identity review panel back in August 2010, and that was rejected by them – may not appear as innovative as I thought.

However, it is important to consider the following:

1) While the basic precept of my proposed approach may appear similar (aesthetic considerations aside) to Ringling’s (that’s the other art school) and to “BMD’s” solution for OCAD, it is however significantly different in very strategic and important ways. Let me explain: OCAD’s RFP stipulated that a key priority was stakeholder communities engagement, and that proponent firms needed to demonstrate innovative ways to engage with these various constituencies. This requirement was the genesis and the thrust of the approach I recommended and as such, it went way beyond simplistically showing the work of a few handpicked medal-winning graduating students. It was conceived and presented as a social experiment in design, turning the branding process into a stakeholder engagement and participatory process, inviting students, alumni, and even the arts and design community at large to be involved and become co-creators in a perpetually evolving brand… a much more exciting, open and experimental vision, and a genuine reflection and embodiment of the nature of art and design.

2) Also, in my view, what this primarily shows is that, in the many months they had to supposedly “come up” with their concept, they completely failed to do their due diligence. That this comes as a surprise to them at this stage is just unforgiveable. This is a complete failure of process.

I am not making excuses here, but I had exactly two days between the time I first conceived of this idea (about 4:30 am on August 11 while at the Westin Nova Scotian Hotel in Halifax… I remember it well as I couldn’t sleep thinking of this presentation) and the time I presented it to OCAD, two days later. Until this past week, I had never even heard of Ringling Art School. My bad!…but if they couldn’t even bother finding it in the 8-9 months they had, I don’t feel too bad if I didn’t in the 2 days I had. But that is neither here nor there.

Bottomline: Once it is out, you simply cannot put the genie back in the bottle, or induce mass amnesia for that matter. You can however force some form of institutional mass-delusion and pretend you have never been exposed to the idea in the first place. OCAD simply took a bold idea that was presented in good faith as part of the RFP process, shrunk it to its most simplistic form, and just hired another firm to produce it and claim credit for it… a conduct most unbecoming of a “would-be” University. In the end, they look like a “me-too”.

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