MOAA Architects by Inhouse, New Zealand9 October,2017
Opinion by Richard Baird
MOAA Architects was founded in 2010. It has an office in Hamilton, New Zealand, and a portfolio of new builds and renovations that span the residential, education, commercial and public sectors. Highlights include their building for Waiariki Institute of Technology’s Health Sciences, a collaboration with DCA, and Piako House, a renovation and extension. MOAA Architects have a passion for ideas and people. This is expressed by a flexible new visual identity of modular play and variety, and a bright yellow and cool grey colour palette designed by Inhouse.
Inhouse’s visual identity for MOAA Architects is built around a grid-based typographic system of modular, building-like letters that can be compressed and extended, stacked horizontally and vertically to fit a variety of contexts. These include portfolio cover, business cards, stationery, notebooks, gridded-paper and signage.
Conceptually it is simple and familiar, however, the changing forms, their contextual sensitivity and variety, alongside colour palette, lend the work a distinctiveness and memorable quality. It is shame that this is limited to printed assets, as the responsive, playful and universal nature of identity would translate well online and could be the foundation for more compelling copy.
Variety and interest comes from the freedom to rotate, compress and extend letterforms within a clear grid-system. The use of a more conventional sans-serif logotype affords the work room to challenge readability, and to use individual letters to establish a discernible continuity that avoids repetition. There is also a pleasant and more obvious connection made to structure, and the studio’s iconic work, in the cropping of portfolio cover, and the architectural photography that sits underneath.
There is a pleasant materiality in the choice of dyed, uncoated papers and boards, open stitching, edge painting and black block foiling, while the pairing of bright sunshine yellow with a variety of grey boards channels something of the typographic and architectural play of the graphic system and works in an element of the industrious.
Other small details include yellow grids on the sketch paper, the two different colours and communicative tones of headed paper and their play with space, structure and visual weighting, and the stacked numbers of the studio’s door.
It is a simple and straightforward graphic expression. It derives distinction from its contextual variety, initial impact in colour and use of form, and is reassuring in its use of familiar communicative cues and material quality. Although perhaps a touch transferable, absent a strong sense of unique positioning, stylistically, it appears to be grounded in a personable approach and a desire to convey architectural ideation in a cheerful, playful and universal way. More work by Inhouse on BP&O.
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