The Valletta Design Cluster is Malta’s national centre for design. Slated to open in 2019 on the site of a 16th century slaughterhouse in the historic Biccerija community, the Valletta Design Cluster needed a visual identity and communications strategy that reflected its brand values and organisational objectives. The core challenge of this significant brand building exercise was to construct a visual identity appropriate and meaningful to its physical site, its organisation intended to exist in perpetuity, and its address in Malta’s capital city.
Our research for this ambitious undertaking took off by looking for the origin and history of Maltese design. This led us to visit the National Library and National Archives, and to interview key participants who played an important role in the development of design in Malta from as early as the 1950s. Our primary research raised more questions than it answered, but we were able to conclude that Maltese design—just like much of Malta’s culture—is at its core an eclectic mix of global influences (more here).
It was important that the Valletta Design Cluster’s identity avoided Maltese visual clichés, such as the eight-pointed cross or patterned tiles. Instead, we looked at the site itself—which will become the most iconic brand touchpoint for Malta’s national centre for design—as a point of departure. This structure offers an unlikely but significant visual reflection of Valletta’s landscape, with stepped lines prominently marking both sides of its edifice reflecting the many physical and conceptual layers that are Valletta’s (and Malta’s) building blocks. We used this identifier as the point of departure for Valletta Design Cluster’s brand identity. The E’s found in the name create an interesting visual ‘staircase,’ which is extended to all parts of the brand’s application.