Genspace is a community based nonprofit focused on empowering scientists, entrepreneurs, artists, biohackers, makers, and ordinary citizens of all stripes to engage with science in a collaboratively minded environment. Genspace’s mission centers around building scientific literacy and curiosity through educational outreach, community events, and generally making science more accessible and less intimidating for all.

In a world where our institutions seem to be failing us at every turn and where trust in systems is at an all time low, the Genspace rebrand seeks to imagine a world where communities and community gathering places take up the mantle of our failed institutional projects. Where the EPA and NASA once stood as bastions of scientific curiosity, a political culture of austerity and privatization have left them shambling and impotent while SpaceX and AstraZeneca grow ever fatter. 
    Our hope for a brighter future lies now with our communities; with our scientists and our artists and our curious children. Its out of this spirit of grassroots renewal and of the community continuing in the footsteps of our formerly robust institutions that Genspace takes its visual cues.

The aim of this rebrand was twofold: to position Genspace as something of a contemporary successor to the EPA and NASA, and to differentiate it from the EPA and NASA (how has our view of science and our level of access to it changed/progressed). In short: how is Genspace continuing the tradition of scientific discovery, but also how is it improving upon that tradition? So, in that spirit of 60’s modernist utopianism, Genspace’s updated branding takes up several swiss-international[1] style design cues: austere sans-serif typography, strict use of grid-based columnar layouts, horizontal rules, a clearly defined typographical hierarchy, and a minimalist approach to color. The color in particular, a green on green on white suggests both a grassroots effort, a community growing, but it also completes the trifecta started by NASA’s red and the EPA’s blue. 

[1] Swiss style modernism represented an optimistic vision of the future expressed through a thorough and thoroughly modern design system: progress through order and rationality. It was maybe the last time in history that graphic design embodied any kind of vision or ideological commitment greater than “let’s make this look cool.” It was, in a lot of ways, a productive stifling of the designer’s ego that hinted at what good might come from a more collectively minded civilization. We’ve since veered hard in the opposite direction and, well, I’m getting a bit off track.

What’s more worth talking about than the way the design system adheres to Swiss Modernist tradition though, is the ways it doesn’t. Genspace’s new logotype is made from a bespoke typeface, GEN_SANS_DISPLAY, which is driven by a circle based grid and inspired by cellular mitosis, a process that is both miraculous and the basis of all organic growth, but also something literally accessible to anyone on earth. The typeface is organic, rounded, and slightly whimsical while retaining a feel of empirical rigor thanks to its strict adherence to a grid. The grid itself is also selectively used as a design element, as it conveys the idea of an updated riff on something seen as rational and empirical. Per the guidelines, the grid can also expand and contract to fill whatever space it needs to, in the same way a community can expand to fill any space provided for it.