The Alesari project originated with a senior/graduate-level special topics environmental design course at Kent State University. Design students in David Middleton's class teamed with architecture students from the Illinois Institute of Technology and real estate MBA students from The DePaul Real Estate Center in Chicago. Teams of students from each of the three schools worked together in several interdisciplinary groups during the 15-week course, via weekly videoconferences and two in-person group meetings at IIT.
The team developed market and feasibility studies, a business plan, architectural design, and environmental design/graphics for a fictional independent retirement living community in Park Ridge, IL. The assignment also included naming, a brand strategy, and ad campaigns promoting the community.
Based on site plans and data from the market/feasibility studies, Kent State students Zak Krusynski, David Roll, and Kayne Toukonen developed a brand concept based on the Latin verb alescare, meaning “to grow,” which is the initial form of the verb alere, to nourish. The brand platform encompasses the concepts of nature and the continual enrichment of residents' lives through the synthesis of nature and culture.
The Alesari logotype features the word alesari bisected by a line of negative space, alluding to two pieces coming together as a whole and also referencing the two halves of the concept: nature and culture. A secondary symbol depicts two halves of a circle.
The team developed several graphic elements to reinforce the brand concept. A print ad campaign reflects the nature/culture aspects while introducing very personal human elements: close-up black-and-white photography of elderly peoples' hands petting their dogs, holding flowers, playing music, or comforting others. The photos are combined with one-word taglines such as “Culture,” “Nature,” and “Pride.” A billboard campaign was designed as a companion to the ad campaign. A construction barrier presents nature-inspired images and one-half of the alesari logo combined with images from the “hands” campaign.
With access to the architectural drawings provided by their collaborators, the design team was able to integrate site signage into the architectural plans. Both exterior and interior sign families employ the brand circle symbol, using one or both sides of the circles in primary identifiers, banners, room identifiers, and directionals. The team conceived freestanding directories as cylindrical, three-dimensional versions of the circle symbol.
“We all thought we'd be proud to have done work as solid as this, so as student work it represents a very high benchmark. Its programmatic work is thorough and the brand concept has a pleasing continuity from the name to the use of typography to the dignity of the ad campaign. There is real maturity behind this.”
David Middleton (instructor)