Starck and GBH put Virgin Galactic identity into orbit

Philippe Starck has unveiled the identity for Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial spaceflight operator, created in collaboration with GBH Design.

The logo was revealed yesterday, along with Starck-conceived plans for the construction of the first dedicated private spaceport in New Mexico in the US.

The $200m (£113m) spaceport will cover 7000ha of desert, but will be largely housed underground, under Starck’s ‘low impact architecture’ blueprint. Virgin Galactic’s new ‘eye’ marque replaces an original identity developed by Start Creative in 2004 (DW 7 October 2004). It is constructed from an image of a solar eclipse, which acts as the pupil inside an iris.

Starck says the iris represents the vision of the endeavour and dream of spaceflight, while the eclipse signifies the ‘dawning of something new’ – in this case, an age of commercial space aviation.

‘[To develop the marque] we were trying to think creatively about times in people’s lives when they are using their own imaginations and to match that, which is pretty tough,’ explains GBH Design director Mark Bonner.

GBH created the logo, under art direction by Starck. The two have collaborated previously on projects for Eurostar, and Starck invited the consultancy to join the Virgin Galactic project this summer. This followed a number of sessions between Starck and Start Creative held earlier in the year.

According to Bonner, the completion of the logo is the first part of a complex branding project. ‘The marque is a small element of what the brand is to become. We are already talking about environments [with Starck’s plans for the spaceport and spacecraft interiors]. And it is a very big project, so, of course, ultimately they will need to expand the team [of designers]. But we are hoping to be a central part of the way the brand develops,’ he says.

Starck was given a creative director role at Virgin Galactic by Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson, and is also a ‘founder’ client of the company, having booked a spaceflight for when the service launches in 2008.

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo is being designed by aviation designer Burt Rutan, creator of SpaceShipOne, the craft which won the $10m (£5.6m) X-Prize in October 2004 for completing the world’s first non-government human spaceflight.

Virgin Galactic Countdown:

• Name created by Virgin in 1999

• Start Creative creates first corporate identity in October 2004

• Philippe Starck on-board at start of 2005

• Starck holds strategic discussions with Start Creative but GBH is eventually brought in to create final branding

• Starck to begin work on SpaceShipTwo interiors early next year

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