New City Identity for Porto, Portugal by White Studio
New identity for the city of Porto
In June of 2014, we were invited to design the new identity for
the city of Porto and its city hall.
The challenge presented was very clear. The city needed a visual system, a visual identity that could organize and simplify communication with the citizens, and could at the same time define a clear hierarchy, bringing together the city and the city hall. We needed to represent Porto, a global city,
the city for everyone.
That city could never be an empty entity, or a mere geographic location, restrained by physical boundaries. It is filled with life, with character, with icons and symbols, with habits and ways of living, with landmarks, landscapes and a very particular horizon. It could not be summed up in a few buildings. It is alive, and its identity shouldn’t be fixed or closed. It needed to breathe and grow every day.
Ancient, Very Noble, Always Loyal, Undefeated City of Porto.
Porto has always been a very passionate city. It has a scale that allows for a relationship of proximity. Here we feel cozy, we feel at home. We develop a feeling a ownership with every landmark, with every street. The city is ours. And with each step we recognize its accent and its attitude.
Looking at Porto from an aesthetic point of view we found the inspiration we were looking for in the blue tiles spread all across the city. Although the city is known for a wide range of colorful tiles, with patterns and drawings that go from the totally geometric to the fully illustrative, only the blue tiles were used to tell stories. The blue tiles show our history, talk about the city and its landmarks, they are narrative by nature.
Inspired by the stories in the tiles we developed more than seventy geometric icons that represented the city and its people. The icons were designed based on a grid that could connect them with each other, creating a continuous network that evokes a tile panel. These icons became a visual code to represent the city. A code that can live by itself, viewing each symbol individually, or as a network of symbols that show the never-ending complexity of our city. The icons could also be more illustrative, telling stories, showing the landscape, translating our passions.