Responses by Michael Johnson, founder/creative director, Johnson Banks
Background: The Royal Astronomical Society is using its 200th anniversary to increase and broaden its reach, attract a younger and more diverse membership and better reflect its purpose: to explore our planet and the universe around us, and to share its learning for the benefit of society.
Reasoning: The new symbol takes its inspiration from several sources: the Society’s motto “Let whatever shines be observed”; the vision and discovery that characterizes two centuries of study; and its work with both astronomers and geophysicists. Stepped spokes—that some see as telescopes—are repeated and rotated to form a symbol that can be interpreted in multiple ways, like a stylized eye or planet with an orbiting moon, reflecting the many different sides of the Society’s work. It is also turned 23.5 degrees to reflect the Earth’s angle of tilt from the plane of its orbit around the sun.
Challenges: The original idea came relatively early, but finding the best way to draw the symbol in a way that would work at all sizes took weeks of experimentation to find its final form.
Favorite details: That the extensive experimentation period paid off. By not “settling” for earlier versions, it means that the final mark has been carefully worked through and is far more durable as an idea and a symbol as a result.
Visual influences: We were obviously aware of the multitude of spinning spoke designs that have been designed for the last fifty years, especially from the modernist and Swiss design period. After looking at trademark databases, however, we realized that the floating moon is what makes this idea different. We made sure that it would work as well as it could in the final design.
Specific demands: Not really a demand, per se, but we knew that the imagery available for the project would be sensational, so we sensed from the beginning that a simple monochrome idea that could “sit” in a corner or on one edge would be the ideal approach to let the imagery speak for itself.