2021

VOLTS



Client— University project.
Collaborators— None.
Discipline— Strategy, Identity, Processing, Motion, Type, User Interface.


Brief: To design a brand and interface guidelines for a new open-source modular synth platform — similar to VCV Rack or mirack — to provide a more meaningful visual experience, accessible to all users (regardless of computing power).







Wordmark

Made from custom typeface with /t_s ligature. The wordmark, like the Volts typeface, was designed with variable optical sizing, for scalability.










Motion Exploration

Modular synths are controlled by pulses of electricity, running through the exposed cables that users configure to create their desired outcome. 

The Processing (p3) coding language was used to explore various ways of translating the essence of modular synthesis to the visual medium.

Using audio input amplitude to control pixel size. 
    —[video with sound here]
Imagining ‘Volts’ as tiny particles of energy. 
Dividing wordmark into square blocks, and affecting their x-position with a sine wave. The Sine wave is very important to modular synthesisers.

















Flexible Logo System

To accompany the wordmark, a mark was designed to visualise the “volts” or pulses of electricity that travel through the external patch cables and control the synth.

The flexibility of the mark can be seen in different forms across various different touchpoints throughout the project.
















Bespoke Typeface

Volts Light OPSZ pays homage to the eccentric and idiosyncratic wordmarks that heralded every analogue synthesiser of the mid- to late- 20th century.
Volts Light Variable [opsz72]










Volts Light OPSZ is a variable display typeface. It uses one axis, optical size, to keep delicate strokes thin at large sizes yet still visible at smaller sizes. 


















Interface

The Volts identity project attempts to reflect the egalitarian principles behind the open-source modular synth platform, by borrowing the visual signifiers of a time when digital products were steeped in excitement and optimism, part of a vision for a brighter future, as opposed to the scepticism many digital brands attract today. As Olia Lialina puts it:

“To be blunt, it was bright, rich, personal, slow and under construction... Pages were built on the edge of tomorrow, full of hope for a faster connection and a more powerful computer... it was a web of amateurs soon to be washed away by dot.com ambitions, professional authoring tools, and guidelines designed by usability experts.” (2005)

The beige colourway, inspired by the PC hardware of the early internet age, along with the physicality of the buttons and dials, and the low pixel density resolution are all manifestations of this strategy.
















Module Design Tool

The core offering of Volts is the unification of hobbyist developers behind a single platform, with the freedom to see their individual visions come to life as part of a larger creation. This design tool allows developers to focus on the construction of modules, without needing to learn the extra skills to design the graphical user interface.











Open-Source Type

A continuation of the digital vernacular theme, an endless range of open-source fonts are offered to users in the module design tool. 














Posters

Demonstrating the potential of the software to create replicas of exsiting contemporary and vintage synths, the posters are an almost-cryptic instruction manual for how to build the expensive but fascinating Moog Subharmonicon and the legendary 1981 TB-303, legally, for free. The instructions are given in the form of ‘cables’ linking outputs to inputs.


























Volts Producers

Title sequence for a promotional docuseries exploring the use of modular synths. These titles make use of a selection of brand elements and show them in motion; such as the pixelation of images, where pixels are extruded and their x-position is mapped and distorted. The aim is to visualise the variability and expressiveness of modular systems.

Titles demonstrated using footage from Resident Advisor’s The Art of Production.













Social Media Presence

Social media provides the perfect platform for the generative elements of the Volts branding. Here, the generative pixel extrusion sketch is used to accompany the music that Volts shares on their instagram page. The idea of ‘volts’ as physical objects are suggested by the pixels dancing to the music. 














Promo Zine

A promotional zine for Volts, including a vinyl freebie. This shows how the Volts branding translates to print, with pixel grids and gradients featuring heavily. As a sub-brand of Volts, O-S.Er.Q uses a different shade of green, but retains the Volts beige.