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GIRVIN | Strategic Branding & Design | Seattle

GIRVIN | Strategic Branding & Design | New York

Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

Digging in, the brand archaeology of art, the person, the persona.

When you work on a brand, people are involved.

Sometimes, companies forget — they think: logistics, operations, planning, transportation, targets, quotients and quotas.

For us — and we’re sure — for many of you, people lie at the heart of the brand; it is they that make stories [and love them] and it is they, that activate the truth of the brand.

So if you’ve got something to say, a story to tell, it’s critical that the human face is actually activating that proposition. Nothing worse than a cool story for a brand, and a faceless front to the activation of that potential.

That’s what we call a true brand. A true brand could be a human brand as well. Human brands are people that live at the center of enterprise. In our experience, that would be Tom Ford, the Rodarte team — the Mulleavy sisters. Or someone like Steve Wynn – in each of these people, human brands, there is a vision and an actionable expression from that person [and their genetic makeup] that fulfills the chromosomal destiny of where that brand goes.

Working with Dale Chihuly and his team, we were asked to support the building of an identity around his new showcase of work — at the Seattle Center. That, for a man that is a legend in “design” — the signing of artfully conceived glass expressions — in all arrays of gigantic installations, sculptural glass-storms, interior treatments, as well as drawings and paintings — is a presumptive task. Let alone the added burden of their opening query and project positioning, “we were thinking you could do some kind of script.”

Like, what?
He already has a script.
Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

We set out, instead, to see about soul — if there’s an archetypal layering to the man, his explorations — something we could dig into, play with, build upon.

More so, to illustrate his spirit and build an identity that drew from him, the work, the journey, the decades of exploration. Working in, we found there was.

Like the swinging gestural articulation of handwriting, you can read an artist’s handworks as an exemplar in authenticity and provenance, even time and place.

We dug in.

And what we found was
a human patterning
in his journeys of discovery.
To each, their own, a patterning of gesture, notations, in the script of being — watching the writing,
much can be read.

Like drawing — which is, and of itself —
a literal “drawing.”

Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

We built these as a series of books. And we called them — Chihuly + Girvin that alone, might be presumptuous, but we did it to identify the effort in the sheer number of people that we linked to, for Chihuly counsel — our Chihuly Council. And, over time, there were a string of books that we produced — from opening explorations, to discoveries, to outcomes and reviews, to solution sets.

And, too, there were teams involved.
Because there were three of us working on it, along with a string of people on Chihuly’s side that we connected to, interviewed and guides that allowed us to dig into the archaeology of the man and his works.

We toured the workshops, the collections of inspirational materials [most artists that we’ve worked with, especially those that have a complex visual vocabulary and “design” lexicon tend to be avid collectors.] Chihuly, like our works around Harold Balasz or Jack Lenor Larsen, have an abiding love of learning, fired by a persistent curiosity.

It all began with a learning book — from our journeys, into the heart of the man and his worlds.
Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

We went everywhere, talking to people, learning more, listening, watching and shooting.

We looked for patterning.

Light and shadow:
Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

Light, context, environments for presentation:
Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

Energy and commitment:
Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

We talked to people that were working on Chihuly projects and installations.
Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

We looked at whimsy and experiment:
Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

Materiality
Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

Technique:
Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

Reflectivity:
Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

Layering and pigment:
Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

Sketches, expansions, objects:
Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

What comes of that?
Interpretations, writing,
photographic assemblies and spreads.
Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

In our books, we wrote on story, positioning and strategy — including creative nomenclature on the name for the “Garden” — following the leads from Leslie C., her insights and directional thinking.
Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

Patterning and Chihuly archetypes — drawings and forms that evidenced journey and layering of expertise, exploration and personal journey, time and place. As Leslie Chihuly had intoned in our meetings, the idea — in paraphrase — is that “journey is fundamental to the effort —
the goal is to draw guests into
the world of Chihuly,
to get a view into Dale’s mind.
It’s surely about his work in glass,
but how he got there is
just as compelling.”
Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

The whorl, the well-inked whirl, the tornado, the box, the weaving, the sphere, the spattered rippling of energy, the chalked and dusted rip-line – these collect into a series of ever-expanding forms. And, looking into the calligraphic signature of Dale Chihuly, it’s all there, the signing, the signature, the signal, the sigil for
the magic that lies within,
and beneath.
Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

We thought, what if the idea — which should be wholly about Dale and the intellectual and spiritual signature of his life — was a multiplicity of identities?

Studies, revealed:
Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

And the evolutions, to study modeling.
Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

The point would be, learn more yourself — go see the work, the exhibition arrangements listen to and explore
the story of the man.

The sheer drama is spectacular — luminous, brilliant, saturated and explosively energetic.
The authenticity, the yearning of the man in making art is right up there with the most luminary of the modern art scene. While his success might be decried by some, I’d offer that getting out there as an artist, is an accomplishment — hard work, commitment, passion.
Dream and push to activate.

Finding the brand soul of Chihuly
[christina sakura and tim girvin]

While our treatments have found expression in merchandising and retail, as well as signing, the online presence has evolved to a more quieted approach.

Not our effort.
Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

In working with dozens of artists, over time — from Northwest luminaries like Jacob Lawrence, Kenneth Callahan and William Cummings to the work of Zen Masters from hundreds of years back, the truth is that passion electrifiers persistence — the work is rarely one of a moment’s discovering, but years of refinement, engagement, pain and struggle to find the recognized and recalled idea[l].

See that evolution, gathered here:
Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

The Launch:
Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

COO Billy O’Neill with
Leslie Chihuly and Dale Chihuly
Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

The Collections Café,
with Chihuly’s accordions
Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

A glimpse of the galleries:
Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

The Pendleton Wall and Dawn Clark
Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

The final retail design treatment
Finding the brand soul of Chihuly

See what you will,
dream what you may.

Tim | San Francisco | Union Square

THE PURSUIT OF BEAUTY:
BRAND | STORY | DESIGN | PACKAGE

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