Mica is a Montreal-based design studio.
As we hope you’ll find in these examples of our work, we are inspired by our clients. We see this inspiration as a foundation to authentic design.
Through authentic design, we strive to truly express the spirit of the organizations we have the good fortune to work with.
Mica is a Montreal-based design studio.
As we hope you’ll find in these examples of our work, we are inspired by our clients, and we see this inspiration as fundamental to authentic design.
Through authentic design, we strive to fully express the spirit of each organization we have the good fortune of working with.
Since its founding in 1972, the SSC has promoted the development and application of statistics in Canadian public life.
The organization’s leadership wanted to revitalize its visual identity with a contemporary, and lasting aesthetic.
The new design expresses the SSC’s vibrant, active, and engaged role in the field of statistics in Canada.
The SSC connects academic and professional statisticians through its conferences, and other in-person gatherings.
It so happens that a group of SSC members are capable photographers who devote a great deal of effort on high-quality photography of SSC events.
Since they are consistently available, and depict a primary mission of the organization, the home page is built around these images of the SSC’s national and international gatherings.
The SSC’s most recent visual identity was based on its coat of arms, which had been serving as its logo.
The SSC’s mandate includes bringing a statistical perspective to public policy, and to encourage statistical thinking for all Canadians. The leadership hoped for a new logo that would resonate in those outreach activities.
They also wanted to bring forward two elements of its coat of arms: the imagery of the snowy owl, and the colour red.
Incorporating the owl image was a tricky proposition. While a coat of arms is understood to be full of metaphorical images, a literal depiction of an owl would inevitably prompt the question: “why the owl”?
The solution was the most impressionistic rendering possible while still being recognizable. With vibrant colour, and a more energetic flying profile, the first experience of the logo is sensorial, and the literal question recedes.
In print, perhaps surprisingly, red is produced by mixing magenta and yellow inks.
This real-world result is mimicked digitally with a “multiply” transparency.
This is the basis for the three colours of the logo, which, perhaps also surprisingly, work well together.
Mica produced a design style guide, which articulates an aesthetic vocabulary for the SSC, and inspires future designs.
Along with technical specifications, the guide helps create continuity across projects, and over time.
It also describes the brand's relationship to the organization's ethos, and provides further design explorations.
ProducedLogo and visual identityWebsite design
Treatment for children with autism involves intensive teaching in language, cognitive skills, and social development. Over many years of emerging understanding, research has shown that the earlier intervention begins, the more beneficial it is.
With that understanding, new therapy approaches have been designed for children as young as 1.5 years of age. Rather than rote, repetitive teaching, these therapies are grounded in naturalistic communication and play.
The Act Early Autism Project espoused and implemented these three essential facets of early intervention: 1, public and professional awareness of the very early red flags for autism, 2, diagnostic testing at a very early age, and 3, new therapy approaches for very young children.
An appealing visual design was created for this initiative — both to advance its public education component, and to help meet its ambitious participation goal for the research component.
The challenge of the design was to communicate with parents, and health care professionals alike.
To do this, instead of a common (and arguably over-used) “kids' drawings” aesthetic, the communication had a fundamentally adult tone. In this way, it connected with parents, without failing to represent the scientific foundation of the project.
Above: researchers’ presentation of study findings.
This study was faced with a difficult task, made even more challenging by a tight deadline: to recruit 40 participating families — 20 in the treatment group, and 20 in a control group receiving enriched community services.
Radio interviews, guest columns in community newspapers, posters in community centers, and overall cohesive communications — all contributed to meeting participation requirements on schedule.
ProducedLogo and visual identityWebsiteWriting and communicationsMarketing strategy
The art featured in this invitation was expansive — up to 24 feet across. A goal of this design was to give a sense of that scale. To accomplish this, the print size was quite large, and its images spanned folding panels.
As well, the panels were cut at differing widths so as to reveal the art inside, further conveying its size.
Published by the AOE Arts Council in Ottawa, Canada, the aim of Zygote Magazine was to give the reigns of editorial direction to young artists.
In consensus with its editors, the approach was to express this youthful and eclectic art in an uncluttered and clear design context.
The low-res or grainy quality of many featured images was merged into the overall style.
For example, this cover image was scanned from about 3 square inches of a 4x6 photo. The logo was "embedded" into the grain of the photo, and the blur was contrasted with sharp overlaid text.
A “zygote” is the first, single cell formed by a fertilization. That metaphor of combination is expressed in the wordmark’s “o”, and in the magazine’s tagline.
Zygote won an
Ontario Arts award for best new publication.
ProducedLogo and visual identityPublication designProduction management
Bessette is a family-owned heating, ventilation, and air conditioning company in the region of Lanaudière, Quebec.
Throughout its growth, the company has prided itself on its connection to its community. As with all growing companies, at a certain point, not-professional design stops conveying “mom and pop shop”, and starts conveying “poorly run company”.
Of course, this is a good problem to have, and the ownership felt it was time to elevate its brand to better reflect its stage of evolution.
For a company that delivers current technologies in the context of peoples’ homes, goal for the new brand was to convey a tone that is both energetically contemporary, and amicable.
For this Québecois company (speaking in very general terms), there was also a goal of merging a bold North American aesthetic with a European concision.
Since Bessette has a fleet of vehicles travelling in and around the community of Lanaudière, Quebec, particular effort was made towards an eye-catching and memorable design.
The vehicles are white and vibrant, and each side features the logo’s cool (summer) and warm (winter) colours.
ProducedLogo and visual identityVehicle design
Among the ideas to be expressed in this design are the organization’s role of connecting people in the field, and facilitating the sharing of ideas.
Also to be expressed is the organization’s Canadian identity. Right out of the gate, this presents two challenges:
1) There are thousands of Canada-esque logos. Given that, to overtly express the maple leaf image is to join them in obscurity, and saddle the client with a logo that may itself be pleasing to the eye, but is anonymous and forgettable.
2) As a Canadian icon, the maple leaf is packed with referrents and literal meaning. It would therefore be easy for these to overshadow the other ideas to be represented. This problem can be expressed in text form: “The Canadian Applied and Industrial Mathematics Society”, which is obviously excessive in its emphasis.
The familiar silhouette of the maple leaf is transposed subtly. In this way, the motif is more sensed than seen, and it allows other concepts to shine through.
Among those concepts are the organization’s roles of providing a professional hub, and of facilitating "reaching out" into new idea spaces. Visually, these might be thought of as opposite, but they are nonetheless unified in this design.
The content of the CAIMS website is primarily text — which its readership is entirely comfortable with.
Given that, it was fitting that the design provide a clean and distinctive foundation, while generally staying out of the way of the written content.
To give some flavour to the site, images and graphics relating to the mathematical subjects at hand were produced.
ProducedLogo and visual identityWebsite designIllustrationWeb developmentMembership database
The group brings to the chess world a unique combination of irreverent humour, the vibe of the electronic music scene, and elite-level play.
Their goal is nothing less than to create a shift in the chess world, and to inspire the next generation of players.
Expressing particular layers of the group would be straightforward, but the more representative goal is to capture all of them — a challenge, since these are seemingly contradictory themes and energies.
Twitch is popular among millennials, and gamers in particular. The Chessbrah stream draws 100,000 views per month, making it a major broadcast in the chess world.
To give the stream a distinctive Chessbrah design, the online chess competition, the player’s webcam, and the designed elements are composited into a single broadcast.
The brashness of the identity is modulated through design variations, and through inclusion or omission of the name.
As a matter of emphasis, the name Chessbrah can be a genuine expression of a vibe, or more tongue in cheek.
ProducedLogo and visual identitySocial media brandingStream designProduct design
As a designer since — oh, before the internet, I founded Mica Design to bring together collaborations of designers and developers.
We create compelling and lasting design foundations, and implement them in a cohesive way across traditional, and digital media.
If you have a project you’d like to discuss, I’d love to hear from you.