Custom Type and Non-Linguistic Visuals Anchor a Community Brand in Heritage and Accessibility

Posted inType Tuesday

Denver’s Sun Valley neighborhood has a rich history that continues to be shaped by immigrant communities overcoming a host of environmental, housing, and poverty challenges. To address this longtime inequity, the Denver Housing Authority (DHA) partnered with the design studio Wunder Werkz to create a new identity for the neighborhood. The new brand story aims to look towards a hopeful future and give voice to the community’s diverse cultural heritage.

Copyright Wunder Werkz

Sun Valley’s unique identity includes a flexible mark system including custom typography, an ADA-compliant color system, an iconic lexicon, and expansive grid and layout systems for collateral, marketing, web, and signage.

There are two aspects of the larger Sun Valley project that stand out to us. The first is a custom typeface designed for Decatur Fresh, a new supermarket helping to address the neighborhood’s food desert. The font is translatable into 12 languages, an essential component for accessibility for the community’s rich diversity of cultural backgrounds.

Also central to the identity is a cleverly built non-linguistic visual system. Sun Valley has 29 different spoken languages and many ESL residents, so Wunder Werkz designed tile icons inspired by various heritage motifs – flags, textiles, tiles, and patterns from many cultural groups. The easily recognizable icons appear across the identity. More importantly, the visuals were designed with straightforward usage and construction rules so the community can add to them in the future.

Non-linguistic outcomes were key to success. No matter the origin, art plays a central role in a number of diverse global cultures and we wanted to tap into that to create a common thread between these disparate groups.

Jon Hartman, Partner at Wunder Werkz

Wunder Werkz, the design studio based in Denver and Reykjavik, is known for an eclectic and humanistic mix of hospitality, civic, and real estate/development projects, including A-Frame, spotlighted by the New York Times.

Learn more about the marketplace and custom typeface. And check out the larger Sun Valley identity project, including the non-linguistic visual system.

Learn more about Sun Valley’s history and the context for its redevelopment.

All images courtesy Wunder Werkz.