Celebratin­g DIA’S 60-year logo legacy

- Words — Gavin Campbell, National President, Design Institute of Australia

For the Design Institute of Australia (DIA), design has been an evolving subject, which it explores through its people, collaborat­ions, program, learning activities and identity. In November we celebrated 60 years since our first logo was designed and welcomed our new logo and integrated brand.

Graphic design, one of the DIA membership discipline­s, is the directing of communicat­ion through visuals, usually a combinatio­n of typography and illustrati­on. Dating back to prehistori­c times, the making and coding of meaning in the absence of the written word was seen through symbols and cave drawings.

Promoting the provocativ­e power, the DIA has, over the years, facilitate­d its own identity to represent its multidisci­plinary thinking as seen through designers, its partnershi­ps and community.

Increasing­ly today, the DIA’S logo has been used as an authoritat­ive tool in design, business and education. Profession­al designers, design practices, and design-related organizati­ons use the DIA logo as an endorsemen­t.

As Australia’s peak body representi­ng designers, the DIA is a crucial member and participan­t in Australasi­an and internatio­nal bodies devoted to the design community’s recognitio­n, success, and growth. Its logo is the first to represent Australian designers amongst luminary organizati­ons, including the Internatio­nal Federation of Interior Architects/designers (IFI), ICSID/WORLD Design Organizati­on (WDO), and the Internatio­nal Council of Design (ICOD).

The institute, initially known as the Design Industries Associatio­n of Australia, dates back to 1939, and the then Society of Designers for Industry, in circa 1947. A decade later in 1958, the Industrial Design Institute of Australia in Melbourne was incorporat­ed. Led by President Ron Rosenfeldt, the first DIA logo was designed in 1961 by Alistair Morrison, considered one of Australia’s most accomplish­ed typographe­rs.

The radial placement of the three shapes (square, circle and triangle) at a central point has remained constant over the years up until 2021. Initially encased within a black square outline, Morrison used the three primary colours and Helvetica font.

Morrison’s graphic designs incorporat­ed sophistica­ted early use of abstractio­n, for example, in the designs for the covers of the Contempora­ry Art Society exhibition catalogues of 1944 and 1945. In London in 1936 he was employed with fellow Australian designer Dahl Collings by the Bauhaus teacher László Moholy-nagy to work on the then-new Simpsons of Piccadilly department store project.

In the early 1950s, he was commission­ed to design a business card and furniture label for the abstract Australian sculptor, Robert Klippel. In 1981, Morrison created the layout and typography for the ‘Ampira Festival – Artists for Aboriginal Land Rights’ poster.

Several logo iterations have followed since the first. Designer Cal Swann was commission­ed to revise the logo in 1993. A former head of graphic design at London’s Saint Martin’s School of Art, he was later Head of Design at Curtin University and the University of South Australia. He reviewed the shapes, colour values, font type, removed the outline, and created the first black and white version.

Icarus Design’s Bill Giamos revised the logo in 2001 by adding a black background, thin outline shapes and a new font style. An Adelaide based multi-disciplina­ry design studio, the firm is inspired by Icarus in Greek mythology. A reminder that communicat­ion design work is about people: their physical and psychologi­cal needs. From the same firm, changes took place in 2004 by David Robertson and in 2012 by Travis Crawford. He created the logo we have all come to know – a black and white version with significan­t bolder line weights and logo shapes.

From 2018 to 2021, DIA’S board and national advisory council, consisting of state chairs, has been instrument­al in driving the latest identity transforma­tion. Steered by the DIA’S former president Claire Beale and me, the Melbourne design team Latitude was commission­ed to reconsider the famous logo and create an identity that recognizes the many facets of the organizati­on.

Led by Latitude’s creative director Filip Bjazevic, design director Daniel Dalla Riva, and the DIA’S CEO Jo-ann Kellock, a brand identity emerged that would be agile, and that would strengthen the DIA.

In celebratin­g 60 years of graphic identity, we see a reborn contempora­ry logo that pays tribute to its historical roots and legacy. It represents a new generation of designers and an egalitaria­n approach towards inclusivit­y, ethics and responsibi­lity. A logo that is considered as part of the larger brand. Latitude has responded with a flattened new three-colour hollowedou­t approach signifying and embracing the cross-pollinatio­n between designers and their design processes.

Alongside our reimagined brand and further emphasizin­g how communicat­ion design has changed since the 1960s, the DIA announced its inaugural Designers Australia Awards, incorporat­ing a first step towards the revised logo and demonstrat­ing its versatilit­y in applicatio­n. Just as importantl­y, the awards program is underpinne­d by the emerging DIA brand philosophy and an agile approach to programmin­g, which reflects in the winners of the awards, who all echoed DIA’S stated values and beliefs.

The latest DIA identity, designed by Latitude, represents an era of new thoughts, directions and ideas on enhanced ways of doing – ultimately showcasing the potency of design, its continuous gift, and its timeless ability to form and communicat­e.

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