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Creating logos with prefabricated elements

Chris Dickman Fri, 07/12/2013 - 05:40

There's currently a debate raging in France to define just what the word "restaurant" means. This is a country so attached to its culinary history that the "gastronomic meal of the French" has been awarded UNESCO cultural heritage status. And since France is acknowledged as having hosted the first restaurant (opened in Paris in the 1760s), it's hard to think of a better place for this discussion. What's at issue is whether establishments that simply assemble dishes from frozen or pre-packaged ingredients should continue to be called restaurants. Because otherwise how do consumers differenciate between these and the increasingly rare exceptions that go to the trouble of cooking meals from scratch with fresh ingredients?

Earlier this week, for example, I was lucky enough to stumble upon a modest neighborhood restaurant in Nice, in which the owner was cooking his heart out to the point where the homemade ice cream was flavored with rosemary that he'd picked in the hills above the city. Now that's a restaurant. But we've all experienced a sinking feeling as we tuck into a dish that's clearly not been reheated enough on its trip between the fridge and the table.

In the same way, when purchasing a logo, what is the expectation of the degree of originality of all its elements? Does every aspect need to have been created from scratch? Or is it acceptable to use one or more existing components? And if so, at what point does this become an "assembled" work? Alexander Tibelius, the author of The Logo Design Toolbox, recently published by gestalten, doesn't seem to have grappled with such questions in creating a collection of 900 vector elements that "provide designers with practical groundwork for implementing their own ideas." It seems like a quality collection in the gestalten tradition — but could the use of these in commercial logo design work risk giving clients a case of graphical indigestion?

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