Last week, the new Windows 8 logo leaked online. Meanwhile, the logo’s designer, Paula Scher at Pentagram, could only sigh. The dimensions were off, and it wasn’t even in the right color. Her work for one of the world’s largest brands was already being skewered, but it wasn’t even the right work.
“Someone took a picture of a logo or made a stamping,” Scher tells us. “Some Chinese website leaked it. They put up the wrong form, wrong type size, etc.”
Not expecting to make the logo announcement until the February 26, Pentagram rushed to assemble their full vision, coupled with the proper logo. You can read that here.
Much like the updated vision for the Science Channel, Microsoft’s new logo wasn’t built solely for stagnant publishing, but to be dynamic across electronic mediums. “Things we got rid of are things that people in the tech industry think it needs to have—gradient color and gee-whiz sparkle,” laments Scher. “That’s in our animation. But you can’t really give a design lecture in a Chinese website leak.”
So here’s that lecture, abridged: The Windows 8 logo stems directly from the Windows Metro design philosophy, with the UI’s tiles reinterpreted as panes of a window drawn in perspective. The four-color flag is dead, as it would inevitably clash with Metro’s flexible color design. And as for the blue? “It’s not blue very often,” says Scher. “It can be iterative of whatever is going on. Blue is like a black placeholder, I guess.”
Even the “Windows 8” isn’t really part of the logo, not in Scher’s eyes. That typography was supplied by Microsoft’s Metro team. “All we did, big picture and little picture, was recommend a very simple approach to bringing the logo back to a window and letting it function as a window in its behavior.” A viewer will actually look through the window at colors and content, just like Metro. Their goal is that you recognize the window without any typography at all.
“When you do something simple … it seems like there’s nothing going on,” says Scher. “But you have to think about that, as a designer. If you create something too complex, it destroys the ability to make complex things with it.”
Whether you hate the new logo or love it (or find yourself completely apathetic), Scher’s perspective is a perfect complement to the Metro design philosophy, a philosophy that eschews icons altogether while proclaiming that content is king. The way I see it, the logo isn’t meant as a statement unto itself, but a (literal and figurative) window to a statement none of us has seen just yet.
As for Scher, she seems to be keeping her cool amidst the controversy. “I had this thing happen once before for the New York Philharmonic,” she says. “For some reason, everyone hated the logo. It’s years later. This lives and breathes. I can’t imagine having the same response to it now. "