Impossible Perspectives - A TEDxBrum Brand Story

Current Perspective: 1am, approx 1 month after TEDxBrum 2017 brand launch.

It was a pleasure to work alongside designer Helen Page for last year's TEDxBrum brand interpreting the #PowerOfUs theme, with myself illustrating colourful pencil portraits of the speakers and performers as part of a big, bright and bold design scheme by Helen that mirrored the event's ambition and message.

Taking the TEDxBrum story forward into its next chapter this year has felt like a response to and build upon last year's hope and verve, with perhaps a more complex and nuanced feeling this time; a definite sensation of paradox, of new dreams vs. old habits; of a simultaneous softness and strength. For me this not only reflects the shifts we see in the world, as Immy outlines in this year's Note from the Curator, but also the evolution of my role in the team, and more personally as a creative; perhaps taking a bold leap, gently.


The process began with exploring what perspectives meant to the TEDxBrum team, sharing thoughts, keywords, doodles and quotes to inform and begin to steer the theme content and visual identity. Here are some of the key influencing points and statements from this session that fed into the final brand concept:

Multiple perspectives
Fact / fiction

"Instead of saying no viewpoint is valid or all viewpoints are valid,

we learn more about reality by sharing perspectives." 

Individual, collective

Nuanced, subtlety
Not polarised

"We are unable to change if we cannot find ourselves in a new version of the world."

TEDxBrum Perspectives Concepts-1.jpg

After digesting and exploring all the ideas, I presented two concepts to the team, one of which centred around the idea of impossibility. The letterforms showed multiple perspectives of each letter incorporated together, and would be impossible to build as solid forms, in the same way as M. C. Esher's staircases.

Esher's work features mathematical objects and operations including explorations of infinity, reflection, symmetry, perspective, truncated and stellated polyhedra, hyperbolic geometry, tessellations, and impossible objects, and I was interested in the fact that such objects are of interest to psychologists, mathematicians, and artists like Esher, without falling entirely into any one discipline or context.

This notion encapsulated a lot of the team's thinking around bringing disparate ideas and discourses together, and for me this typography very deliberately represents a strong message: that when different perspectives come together they can make what was previously thought to be impossible into a new reality. 

With nods to the isometric blocks of the #PowerOfUs type, I knew it was important to evolve the colour scheme away from such bold primary colours and into a more subtle palette, this also mirroring the group's points around nuance / rejection of polarisation. I'd long been interested in the colour pink, which has a rich history, particularly representative of the importance of perspective in its arbitrary transition from a colour associated with boys to now, largely with girls. "The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl." - Earnshaw’s Infants’ Department, 1918.

A light 'blush' shade like this is also commonly associated with skin, but naturally that draws from the dominant narrative around whiteness, something I explored in the multi-toned branding for PMT Festival. The type variants represent our ability to see the same things very differently to one another, an important reminder of how who we are and the experiences we have held shape our view of the world we live in.

All of this thinking feeds into the resulting brand identity for this year's event, and now that the theme and brand are out in the world, it's our job to push, pull and apply it to lots of different contexts, and keep exploring visually and philosophically what the concept means to you, us, and the city we call home.

Louise Byng, TEDxBrum Brand Lead


We'd love to know what you think, so feel free to drop ideas or feedback into the comment box below, or give us a tweet at @TEDxBrum! To find out more about this year's theme, just head over to our main page here.