The first MIT Media Lab Summit devoted to design, Knotty Objects brought together designers, scientists, engineers, curators and scholars to celebrate the chimeric nature of contemporary design and how it defies a discipline-specific approach. Organized by Paola Antonelli, senior curator of architecture and design at MoMA, and Neri Oxman and Kevin Slavin, professors at the MIT Media Lab, the conference explored the theme through four archetypal objects for which conception, design, manufacturing and use are non-linear, or “knotty”: the brick, the bitcoin, the steak, and the phone.
Pentagram designed an identity for Knotty Objects that plays off the Summit title and theme with twisting and turning typography that builds on the identity for the MIT Media Lab designed in 2014. The knotty-but-nice type was applied to a full program of event collateral, including a title sequence that played before the start of the conference and environmental graphics for the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, and the MIT Media Lab, where the Summit was held.
The custom typography was designed using an expanded seven-by-seven grid, the same grid used in the Lab's identity. The grid forms the basis for a unique typeface in which the letters are connected with crossbars and curves that look like folds. The Knotty Objects logo is also built on the expanded grid. For the Summit, the designers created a series of posters, motion graphics for the presentations and digital displays at the ICA and at the Media Lab, and a 30-foot-long, 8-foot-tall installation of the word "knotty" at the Summit entrance.