The story of the punk sludgehog

Where our hero rediscovers the irreplaceable value of user testing, and valiantly turns a rebel mollusc into an exotic flower.

I have been thinking about a new visual identity for unfoldscience for about a year now. I really love how the word "unfold" empowers our wandering imagination to think about how science can open out if we allow it to. I wanted a logo that would reflect and support this meaning.

In January 2008, I attended the Biodevices conference in Madeira. I also took a few days of vacation to visit the island after the conference. It was not yet the season for flowers, but it was really beautiful and flowers were growing all over the island; among them were strelitzias, also called birds of paradise. When I saw them, it hit me: they were a perfect symbol of unfolding. Besides, they were orange and blue, my two favorite complementary colors. They were just perfect. I took a lot of pictures of strelitzias and I used them to design a draft logo that represented a bird of paradise unfolding (pictured below).


I had created a whole new species and I didn't even realize it.

Every designer will tell you that no matter how hard you work on a product, you have to seek feedback from users and people who have not been involved in the process. I would even say that the harder and the longer you work on it, the more you have to seek external feedback. In the case of my draft logo, I had worked on it so long that it was obvious for me it represented an opening strelitzia.

However, the first two people I asked did not think of a strelitzia; instead they asked me why my logo was some sort of chimera that would be the improbable result of a one-night stand between a punk slug and a hedgehog. Thanks to their comments, I managed to see through their eyes and I had to admit they were right, so I tweaked the logo a bit.

In order to avoid the confusion with a sludgehog, I added a small stem to the flower. Now, if someone does not recognize a strelitzia at first, they will think it represents some sort or bird, which is much better than the previous mythical creature.

Is it a bird? Is it an exotic flower? Well, at least, it's not a punk gastropod.

Is it a bird? Is it an exotic flower? Well, at least, it's not a punk gastropod.