It’s not every day that you get to work with an organization on a mission to save the world. But by harnessing the power of nanotechnology, that is exactly what the International Institute of Nanotechnology at Northwestern aims to do. Producing $1 billion in research, the IIN investigates how nanotech can resolve issues found in sectors such as environmental science, medicine and homeland security.

Part of these world-changing efforts include awarding the $250,000 Kabiller Prize to an outstanding scientist every two years. We initially worked with the IIN to develop the mark for the prize, and our efforts later evolved into not only designing the Kabiller trophy itself but also updating the IIN’s overall branding and updating its offices with environmental design.

Leveraging Scientific Discoveries

To develop the mark for the Kabiller prize and the Institute identity system, we initially focused on three major technologies that the IIN researchers developed: Raman SpectroscopyDip-Pen Nanolithography and the Spherical Nucleic Acid. Using original scientific imagery as primary sources, we created several mood boards and visual concepts interpreting the Discoveries to become the foundations of the IIN identity system.

From a strategic standpoint, the IIN was working behind the scenes on refining the company brand. We proposed the organization could leverage its foundation of unique scientific innovation through the branding of its scientific discoveries. By converting these brand assets into actionable touch points, the IIN is uniquely identified in publications and by scientists, donors and the general public.

Raman Spectroscopy and molecular electronics inspired pattern for use in original terrazzo floors designs

Nanoflares and Dip Pen Nanolithography patterns

Dip Pen Nanolithography and Raman Spectroscopy

1. An Online Branding Center and tools were provided to the organization to ensure the new guidelines are properly used and available to all IIN constituents.

2. Extending the identity in 3D through this Concept for a Trustee gift package illustrating the IIN proprietary Spherical Nucleic Acid (SNA) Discovery 3D-printed in plastic and encased in a frame.

Extending the brand into the environment

The Art of Designing a Scientific Prize

The Kabiller trophy is crafted with 10 pounds of Starphire glass meticulously cut and precisely assembled so that various layers of transparencies can playfully line up to represent the Kabiller logo. The colored glass owes its yellow hues to suspended gold nanoparticles.

The deceptively simple geometry of the trophy belies a construct of intricate shapes reflecting their etched surfaces onto one another. Custom illuminated pedestals were designed to enhance the reflections of the trophy through the use of dichroic film.

The IIN in Numbers

Billion $ in Scientific Funding

Complementary Identity Systems

Environmental Graphics sites

Custom Trophy Design

“ Studio Pax has given us the framework we needed to represent the caliber of the work that’s happening here at Northwestern”
–Kathy Cook, IIN Chief of Staff. 

An adaptable evolving identity system

As new discoveries are unearthed by the IIN scientists, these new elements are strategized to become integrated within the existing identity system using a simplified language of patterns and colors across multiple channels.

Environmental design honoring audiences

Now, not only does the IIN’s branding reflect its recent discoveries and its status as a Northwestern institution, but the donors who walk its halls have a lasting reminder of how their gifts are benefitting the organization.

Cross-disciplinary collaborations

Working across multiple channels requires a wide range of partnerships and coordination with expert sign fabricators, specialty printers, trophy manufacturers and even custom wallpaper designers.

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