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A stack of Designing a Better Chicago business cards using the colors lime and olive green

Designing a Better Chicago

Fostering A Dynamic Design Community

Designing a Better Chicago is an annual celebration, for residents and visitors alike, that shines a light on the extraordinary impact of design on civic life. The program also supports local individuals and organizations using the power of design to advance social good through its Design Impact Grant. 

The effort is a collaboration between theMART, NeoCon, DCASE and the Design Museum of Chicago. The team reached out to us looking for a thoughtful visual identity to build awareness and enthusiasm. Together, we developed a thoroughly contemporary system that is deeply rooted in Chicago’s history of design excellence. 

Visit Website


Mockup of mobile website, featuring olive and lime green
Mockup of desktop size website, featuring olive and lime green with a small red circle
Static mockup of a red and tan website
Mockup of the DBC website featuring sage and teal
Mockup of the DBC website featuring teal and an abstract photo of water
Mockup of the DBC website on a tablet, featuring light gray and olive

Representing the full expression of the visual identity, the website provides an interactive platform to learn more about DBC and highlights the Design Impact Grant program. Dramatic floods of color shift as users scroll through content. With a prominent link out to NeoCon, it also displays how the DBC identity plays well with the marquee event’s branding.

Printed + Environmental Applications

Two DBC business cards
Stacks of business cards green and black
Corners of letterhead featuring small DBC logo
Arrangement of multi colored business cards
Outdoor vinyl banner featuring DBC logo
DBC Logo Extend Frame v1 ds
DBC Logo Extension Grid 1

Photography ranges from environmental and ambient to active and people focused. The textural images inspire folks to look differently at the world around them. Human subjects provide a glimpse into what is happening throughout the city at any given moment.

A series of oversized posters pasted onto on an urban wall
Exterior vinyl banner featuring elongated DBC logo
Exterior vinyl banner featuring elongated DBC logo
Booklet cover mockup with cropped DBC logo
Tote bag with cropped logo
Photo at night in downtown Chicago of an illuminated sign

Wayfinding Signage

Extensions of the core logo symbol, design-inspired geometric shapes work together to guide people through future exhibitions and installations across the city.

Wayfinding signage on an interior white wall
Variety of shapes used in wayfinding signage
DBC Wall Arrow 1
Wayfinding signage on a glass entry way

To develop the logo, we discovered inspiration in the overlooked — Chicago’s municipal device. An iconic symbol that hides in plain sight throughout the city, it references the 19th-century engineering feat of reversing the flow of the Chicago River. The linear forms provide a pared down yet meaningful foundation for the entire visual system.

Chicago municipal device in various locations
Chicago municipal device in various locations
DBC logo variations and arrangements
reflected DBC logo symbol

Composed of a reflected symbol and wordmark, the logo becomes flexible and dynamic as arrangements are formed. The offset alignment emphasizes the DBC initialism and sits comfortably alongside the symbol. Set in the typeface Telegraf, the wordmark connects to the symbol through geometry and subtle angles. 

Small DBC logo construction diagram
DBC logo

Impact in the First Year

  • 2

    Grants awarded, totalling $25k

  • 7

    Projects honored with special recognition

  • 50+

    Total proposals submitted