Responses by Jan Šabach, design/creative director, Code Switch
Background: The Baba settlement in Prague is one of Werkbund’s six experimental settlements in Europe. Commissioned for the UNESCO office at Heritage Department in the City of Prague, this identity supports the efforts of Prague to be awarded a European Heritage Label recognition for its unique collection of 33 functionalist buildings.
Reasoning: The whole identity system is based on a square. The custom letterforms are inspired by the buildings themselves, as well as Piet Zwart’s typography. The letters are organized in a chessboard-like manner as a nod to the original zoning plan designed by the Czech architect Pavel Janák. The color palette is simple, utilitarian and bold.
Challenges: Creating a fresh identity that feels current and relevant today, and not just a copy of Bauhaus aesthetics.
Visual influences: Piet Zwart, functionalist architecture and Ladislav Sutnar.
Specific demands: I grew up near the Baba settlement and have a strong personal connection to the place. While I may have had a little bit of a head start when it came to thinking about the visual solution, I also felt a strong sense of responsibility to create something meaningful and appropriate. I hope this identity helps with the efforts to be awarded the European Heritage Label recognition and helps preserve this unique architectural collection for future generations.
Anything new: I’ve always liked functionalism and constructivism, but I don’t think I truly appreciated how radical, different and modern the functionalist architecture was until I saw a 1927 Mercedes-Benz ad with a roaring ’20s-dressed woman standing by her Mercedes Stuttgart 200 model car outside the Le Corbusier House in Stuttgart. It was the incredible contrast between the current style and what is to come.