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the narrative:
a visual communication design studio


We work with companies, organizations, non-profits, cultural institutions, and individuals in diverse fields and disciplines to create meaningful and distinct visual narratives. 

HAPPENING AT the narrative:

New Website by The Narrative:

What is Mies typography? What typefaces did Mies himself use? How would Mies have wanted his buildings branded in the 21st century?
These are questions asked by Sofya Karah and Dan McManus, Design Directors at The Narrative, while rebranding 900 910 North Lake Shore Drive, a pair of perpendicular glass and steel highrise buildings designed by Mies van der Rohe in Chicago. In this video they will be discussing their research-based methodology, historical discoveries about Mies van der Rohe, and the design process behind the rebrand of these iconic buildings.
As the newest design studio in town, we were honored to be asked to brand AIGA St. Louis Design Show 26—the show has a great tradition and we were ecstatic to be able to contribute to the St. Louis design community and introduce ourselves and our work.
The implementation of the branding for Design Show 26 was bold and playful—reflecting the joy of bringing the design community together in person for the first AIGA Design Show since the start of the pandemic.

Design Workshop: Saint Louis City Punks SG

Saint Louis City Punks (SLCP) is an independent supporter group (SG) for St. Louis CITY Soccer Club (CITY SC). The Punks are a group of new and old friends who love soccer and music and are always happy to welcome new folks to their sorta weird, sorta cool group. SLCP is also a 501(c)(3), which enables the group to support mental health & suicide prevention organizations through fundraising.
In preparation for St. Louis CITY SC’s inaugural soccer season, a group of Punks gathered for a graphics generating workshop to create a visual 10 day countdown until the home opener and other branded images.
The process was to be analog, fast, messy, and unpolished—Punk Rock. Images from Historic St. Louis and the Library of Congress were selected and printed out. Markers, stencils, found typography, and hand lettering were the only tools used. The graphics were then photocopied using the photocopier’s contrast settings (way up) to further enhance textures. The graphics were then photographed and ready for digital typography to be added and used to promote SLCP and CITY SC.

New Brand by The Narrative:
Artspace 304

Artspace 304, formerly known as Carbondale Community Arts, sought a new brand identity and website that reflects the organization’s role as the preeminent center for art, culture and community in southern Illinois and recognition of its unique ‘recycled modernist’ building—a mid-century architectural jewel.
For the brand identity, The Narrative designed custom typography inspired by the Artspace 304 building and a typographic and visual system incorporating custom illustrations that would be dynamic in both digital and print use. The identity was designed to be timeless, accommodate future sub-brands, and be welcoming, respectful, and appreciative of varied cultural needs, backgrounds, and disciplines.
The Chicago Graphic Design Club sought submissions for a poster using the official Chicago typeface, Big Shoulders, that communicates what Chicago means to you. This poster was partially hand assembled, using layered Chicago imagery and historic symbolism to create a poster that feels truly Chicago in a personal and abstract way.
The base layer photomontage is composed of two photos taken by the designer of locations Chicagoans are very familiar with—the lake and an alley—representing the dichotomy of the Chicago living experience.
The text is a reinterpretation of a famous Norman Mailer quote “But Chicago is a great American city. Perhaps it is the last of the great American cities.” The typeface Big Shoulders Stencil Display was first laser cut into a stencil, and then applied to the poster with spray paint for the second layer.
The top layer, applied by hand as stickers, consists of a formal deconstruction of the Flag of Chicago. To edit the word “cities” to “city”, the 1892 Chicago Municipal Device Y symbol is used. “The Y symbol is meant to be used unofficially by citizens, businesses and other organizations to promote pride in the city. Users are free to color and design it however they wish.” The Municipal Device is Chicago flag red, continuing the deconstruction of the flag. There is also reference to the great John Massey’s “Chicago Has a Great Lake” 1966 poster. Series of 5 prints.
Project recongnized by the Society of Typographic Arts as part of the STA 100

New Brand by The Narrative: 900 910 Lake Shore Drive

Few buildings in the world reflect the iconic nature of a city like 900 910 N Lake Shore embodies Chicago. Designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and built out of concrete, glass, aluminum and steel, the buildings are “giant mirrors for lake beauty.”
The Narrative was entrusted with the first rebrand for 900 910 since the 1970’s—beginning the project with extensive archival research and interviews that informed and enriched the design process. The final identity directly references the “golden ratio” of the black windows—perhaps the most visually iconic aspect of the buildings. In keeping with Mies the style is rational, methodical and stripped of subjectivity wherever possible. The brand implementation centered on elegantly incorporating the stories and vision of those invested in the enduring life of the buildings.


brand research & strategy
business naming
brand positioning
logo design
custom website design
social media campaigns
newsletter design
marketing collateral
branded environments
data visualization
book design
annual reports
publication design
icon systems
information design
poster design
wayfinding & signage
theater set design
exhibition design
design consultation

let’s visualize your narrative:

Interested in discussing a project, in a creative collaboration, or becoming a client?
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