Each week, RGD features a project case study by a Certified RGD Member in our RGD Word e-newsletter and on the website. After reviewing those submitted in 2017, four industry professionals with a business/media background have identified the case studies they feel best articulate the design process and demonstrate the value design can bring to business.
RGD's case studies highlight the thought, research and insight involved in developing a project, providing details on challenges, solutions and results that often occur through the design process. By establishing an archive of case studies that cover a wide range of projects, RGD's goal is to build understanding and respect for the role of design in business and put a spotlight on the specific objectives and deliverables that can be addressed through the power of design.
Chris Frey, Publisher, Writer, Monocle
Jennifer Horn, Editor, Strategy Magazine
Kristina Urquhart, Editor, Applied Arts Magazine
Janine Vangool, Publisher / Editor / Designer, UPPERCASE Magazine
Selections were made based on the following criteria:
- The project is well-designed and represents strong execution of fundamental design principles
- The write-up illustrates the design process in a way that is easy for non-designers to understand
- The case study clearly articulates how design translates into project deliverables and contributes to the achievement of the client's goals
- The project and write-up are interesting and relatable for a diverse audience
Top Case Studies of 2017
Blok Design builds new identity and website for leading Canadian architecture firm, superkül
Authors: Vanessa Eckstein RGD & Marta Cutler, Blok Design
"An impressive example of how storytelling, research and conceptual rigour can successfully drive the design process, especially as this rebranding grew somewhat organically out of Blok's work on superkül's 10th anniversary commemorative book. As one would hope occurs during such an intensive collaboration, the exercise helped crystallize the thinking of the firm's founders around the sort of practice superkül aspired to be, which in turn necessitated this rebranding. From there, Blok went to work honing superkül's brand story and voice, mining for still deeper insights, as well as scouring for best practices among innovators both within and adjacent to the industry globally.
Along the way, Blok struck upon a few key phrases — such as "understated boldness" and "quiet gravitas" — that gave some definition to superkül's ethos and architectural sensibility. (Notably, Blok was unafraid to embrace whatever paradoxes or ambiguities they discovered; nor were they above keeping elements of the old branding that still worked, such as the lower-case lettering of the wordmark.) The results manage to distill the essence of architecture as a practice and art through the most basic of elements — dimensionality and use of space (on paper or screen), type, materiality, graphic form — while maintaining a sense of playfulness that is often absent in the way architecture firms (so serious, so stolid!) present themselves. As far as case studies go, this one is full of insights and lessons that should be instructive to all designers."
- Chris Frey
"Not only are the designs themselves well-executed, but the case study further conveys the superkül identity and aesthetic with high quality images of the branding project. A few sophisticated animations illustrate variations of the identity design and offer a hint at their client's website. The accompanying copy is personable, engaging and follows a natural story arc from beginning to completion. I enjoyed the narration, which hints at the emotional connection the designers have with their work—you can tell they are passionate about cultivating a good relationship with their clients and proud of what they create. The result is a case study of a design that is grey and monotone—while being anything but monotonous."
- Janine Vangool
National Gallery of Canada's Sakahàn International Indigenous Art Exhibition turns construction obstacle into design opportunity
Author: by Stefan Canuel RGD, Senior Designer, National Gallery of Canada
"What a clever example of function working with form. The in-house design team at National Gallery of Canada thought outside the box on this one—Stefan and company managed to transform a construction site not only into a place of learning, but also an actual art form that would engage the community.
What stands out to me is the way the design team adapted their plan for the Sakahàn exhibition to include the construction hoarding rather than shy away from it as per the original ask. They were uncompromising in their vision for the exhibition, even sourcing new hoarding when it was determined the existing grey wouldn’t fit with the rest of the design. This hoarding could have rendered part of the gallery completely useless during the renovations, but instead, the team considered how people move through an exhibition and reimagined how to use the liminal spaces. The bold typefaces of the didactic materials displayed on the hoarding serve great purpose in drawing the viewer into the exhibition, and in reflecting the challenging content inside.
Of course, the most exciting and innovative part of this project was the vision for the Great Hall, the National Gallery’s glass-walled pyramid, which was to be covered in scaffolding during the construction phase. The gallery curators and design team decided to cover the unsightly construction with a giant mural wraparound. They commissioned artist Inuk Sillis Hoegh, who drummed up more visitor interest by creating an iceberg that passersby could see from afar. This project truly begs the question—can’t all construction sites be this impactful, informative and well designed?"
- Kristina Urquhart
Capilano University's IDEA School of Design prioritizes soft design skills with unique first-year assignment
"The power of insightful design was unfurled in this process-trumps-the-product assignment by instructor Dominique Walker. Knowing what to craft is just as important as knowing how to craft. The intellectual quotient was placed on the same pedestal as the emotional, with students learning the skills behind observing and mining true meaning behind the designs they create. Creative folk (and journalists like myself) can relate to and appreciate the lessons learned from this exercise in design thinking — such as the art of instilling confidence through calming interview techniques or obtaining the right information that results in truthful work. Looking at the final products and post-interview quotes, I find myself wondering what posters the students would create for themselves if they, too, were asked to reveal a lesson they gleaned for future budding designers to heed."
- Jennifer Horn
Interested in submitting a case study? Download 'Guidelines for Contributing Content' and email .