Realm Charter School is a brand new 6th through 12th grade school opening this fall in West Berkley, California. It is focused on project-based learning, immersive technologies, mindfulness in education and participatory action research. The branding for Realm, designed by Christopher Simmons and his team at MINE, is an innovative solution that breaks away from your traditional school identity system. But there is more design at Realm than just thoughtful branding.
The philosophy of Realm really gets to the heart of what they are all about. “Realm Charter School is designed to be a project-based, technology-rich learning environment that promotes critical and socially responsive perspectives. This means that students will learn to think about the world as a set of interconnected systems that can be affected through rigorous studies and action. Students will navigate and create complex information networks, virtual worlds, and immersive learning environments by utilizing emerging technologies. Moreover, through culturally relevant instruction and curricula, students will recognize and own their ability to shape our world and to better humanity.”
The brand of Realm gives a sense of revolution and starting something new, especially apparent in the flag mark and the T-shirt design. There is also expert attention given to typography that is both clean and modern, which represents the school and its vision for a new way of learning. The design solution appears to be about helping to develop a certain culture and mind-set through its new school community, while also leaving some room for their community to help define what the school is all about. Since this is far from your typical school, it makes sense that they have strayed away from visual and iconic depictions related to schools and education that we are all so familiar with.
Design also plays a part in Realm’s curriculum and includes classes such as “Design Principles” and “Game Design.” What’s more, the school year will start off with a three-day design challenge. As stated on Realm’s website, “The design challenge will be a great format for students to get to know their teachers and peers and practice skills like interviewing, brainstorming, prototyping, and exhibiting their work.” And on their website, they have listed IDEO’s Design Thinking for Educators toolkit as one of their resources.
The type of thoughtful and innovative work that MINE did with Realm Charter School is something that I hope we will see with other schools as they brand themselves and communicate what they are about. Do you know of any other schools that are using innovative design solutions for visually communicating their story?