You see before you the work of the design firm Spunk Design Machine, which has created a new graphic identity for the college with input from many of our faculty, staff, students, and alumni over the last nine months. As always happens with good design, we learned a lot about ourselves in the process--about who we are and what we value.
In interviewing a wide range of people both inside and outside the college, Spunk's staff heard us repeatedly talk about our common goal of transforming the world, making it a better place in which to live. That goal has found visual expression in our identity by transforming the University of Minnesota's block M into a set of parallelograms that form the background grid for the Proxima typeface that comprises the body of our print pages.
Spunk has also chosen photography that reflects the hands-on activities that occur in the college. Most of us either make things or study things made, and so the identity's photographic backgrounds feature close-ups of hands at work and materials undergoing transformation, capturing both the dynamic energy and the practical problem solving that happens here every day. The identity's color palette echoes that energy. A few colors balance the University's maroon and gold to enliven each page.
Spunk's designers recognized that many in our college imagine the future as well as document the past and analyze the present. That led them to the tagline What if..., a more speculative version of the University's Driven to Discover campaign. What if we evolved new and more inventive solutions to real-world situations? What if we envisioned practical and profitable alternatives to our existing realities? The number of what-if questions we can ask--and need to ask--is almost endless.
Such questions, however, do not focus only on the future. As this issue of Emerging shows, much of the work we do in the college involves preserving the past and reconsidering its meaning in light of our present predicaments. From the conservation of historic clothing, furniture, and graphic design in our Goldstein Museum of Design to the preservation of world heritage in our Center for World Heritage Studies to the education of graduate students in our M.S. degree in heritage conservation and preservation, this issue covers some of the range of our teaching, research, and outreach related to history.
Indeed, in the troubled times we live in, some of the most important what-if questions we might ask involve looking back as much as peering ahead. What if we could have seen our current global problems coming? What if we had anticipated the full consequences of actions that have gone so wrong? We may never finally answer such questions, but we might get better at avoiding the bad planning, poor design, and myopic thinking that has plagued our recent past by getting better at asking ourselves, "What if...?"
Thomas Fisher, Professor and Dean College of Design