A Tree Grows in Sweden

Linnaeus University Logo, Before and After

On January of 2010 classes will begin at Linnaeus University (Linnéuniversitetet in Swedish) for the first time as the result of a merger between Växjö University and Kalmar College, giving Linnaeus two campuses in the two cities of its predecessors, Växjö and Kalmar, Sweden. The uiversity has been named after Carl Linnaeus, an eighteenth century naturalist and physician, who is widely credited as the father of modern taxonomy (and apparently, the inventor of the index card). The new identity has been designed by (one of my favorite design firms) Stockholm Design Lab.

Linnaeus University Wordmark

Swedish, above, and English wordmarks.

As the designers explain on their web site, the icon is inspired by a sketch that Linnaeus had made on one of his earliest publications. The result is what I can only call an optimistic tree. It is rendered very simply and abstractly, it could be a leafy tree or it could be an apple tree, but either way it feels like it's bursting. If I had one complaint it would be the way the trunk connects with the top-left circle, which makes it look like an ornament. The way it is used on the web site, small, gives it a certain seriousness. The typography is simple and impeccable and I love how in the Swedish version the accent over the "e" is replaced by a dot instead of an actual accent, giving it a nice rhythm. And I am a sucker for the æ ligature, so it's nice to see it make an appearance in the English version. Judging from the web site alone, this is a highly sophisticated and contemporary identity and I'm sure print and other applications will be equally fruitful.

Thanks to Urban Gustavsson for the tip.

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