Naming and finding form

Creating WeMakeThe.City, the festival that makes cities better — part 2

So, when is not ‘CityFest’, what should it be? We researched whole lotta names. In parallel with design, directly investigating possibilities. We studied the following domains:

  • The time we are in — Naming the paradigm. Like Michiel Schwartz ‘sustainism’. A new term that we can give our own meaning and can own.
  • Capturing the behaviour we want to see — Like a call to action. Makes things directly actionable. Like ‘Let it grow!
  • An analogy that captures a same essence — Like Picnic. Most people associate a picnic with a gathering of people where participants all bring their own share to share for a better experience.
  • Describing the nature of the event — Not a conference, but a festival.
  • Describing the change we want to see — Like ‘regionomie’ (regionomics) as a new operation system, next nature, a new term that we can give our own meaning and can own or What Design Can Do.
  • Empowering humans — Choosing something that starts from the human perspective. Like what we did for PICNIC Brasil: we are creactivists!
  • Focus on the habitat, the city — Play around with place-based words.
  • Fictitious names — Totally made up, a new term that we can give our own meaning and can own.

Which led to a ginormous explosion of names and ideas:

A, Polis, Topia (from utopia, suffix from Ancient Greek, ‘Paradise or (by extension) any geographic region; allows differentiation to all kinds of Topia’s, similar to ‘scape’; allows people to share their own topia ideas: Egbertopia, Marleentopia, Kittytopia. All envisioned personal worlds where you can contribute to and find answers for at the events), Tropolis, Scape (used to form nouns referring to a wide view of a place, often one represented in a picture; possibility to add words: peoplescape, landscape, cityscape, seascape, techscape, etc.; made from the same letters als space, allows playful application in design space/scape; broad enough to hold ‘scene’s’, the cityscape holds all kinds of spaces for different kinds of subject matter that together form the make-up of a liveable city), Citycene (-cene is used in the names of geological periodes, like Holocene (current age), Pleistocene, etc. derived from the Greek ‘ceno’ meaning ‘new’; allows to withstand a longer time period since the worldwide urbanisation and pull to cities is consistently growing; allows to be deconstructed in all layers it consists of; allows playful creative exploration of the ‘homo urbanus’, the city species, narrated by David Attenborough, describing habitats, typologies), Humanpolis (the human scale, city made by and for humans, which of course is always true. Cows don’t build cities. Nevertheless it is a reminder of not forgetting what cities are for — not for themselves, but people with dreams, desires, hopes and fears; creates possibility to make the ‘human’ attributes visible in communication), Hum (a lively city is one that always hums (geroezemoes); when it goes silent, it slowly dies. Hum is the people like bees in the hive), Festicity, Ity, Hometown, Residence, Area, Home, Homebase, Domicile, Stay, Town, Milieu, Domain, Room, Living Room, Hive, Colony, Nest, Biotopia, Burgh, Burg, District, Heim, Mother City (like ‘Mother Nature’, etc.), ‘Change the way we live’, ‘Leef de stad!’, ‘Leve de stad!’, ‘Live the city!’, ‘’Build the city!’, ‘Reclaim the city!’, ‘Remap the city!’, ‘Live together’, ‘Come together’, Hello!, Welcome!, I am, With, Togather, Happening, Lives, Anew, Attitude, Ambition, Path, Way, Larger Scale, New Perspectives, New Habits, New Story, Co-city, Platform Co-op, Hotspot, Spots, Civic, Civil Society, Belong, Colide, Access, Harmony, Haven, Prosper, Bloom, Urban Natives, Open City, Urban Alternatives, People Place Profit (planet as the sum of all places), New Eyes (Marcel Proust: ‘The real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands, but in seeing with new eyes’), City Class, Sociity (The city as a society), Civicracy, AIM (‘I am’, aim as a goal and link to city branding), Forrest, Horizon, Father City (Mother Nature), Permanent Revolution, Morgen, Bourhood, Hood, We’ll, Gezellig and a whole lot more.

Going back and forth, there were a couple of names that had potential to be explored both visually as in potential application. One that stuck for a long time was ‘A’.

A possibility

In Amsterdam, almost all possible varieties that link to Amsterdam like AMS (airport), 020 (phone), 1000 (postcode), etc. are in use. But possibly the ‘A’ is free. Which could be Capital A in pronunciation. A is a capital. Capital as the first, main city of a country or centre of a movement. Capital as wealth, the cumulative value(s) of individuals and organisations. And, ‘A’ is where everything begins. But in Amsterdam, a creative clubhouse with the Capital C is also opening soon, and domain names weren’t really available. It could have made excellent communication because it is a character. Like people, we can give it all kinds of attributes, can make it tangible, put it next to people and of course put anything next to it: a citizen, a street, a love, a life, etc. And we could make the design direction as democratic as possible, facilitating a basic set of tools and rules, and we invite a wide variety of people to participate in creating variety and diversity, in a similar way we did with PICNIC in the past.

All rights of the used images above belong to their respective owners. Images only have been used in mood boards to visually explain ideas and direction to others. There is no intent whatsoever to pretend any kind of ownership or infringe copyrights.

But, although it had a lots of possibilities, one thing we couldn’t really tackle: what would people say? How would they pronounce it? Just imagine this dialogue:

‘Hey! I’m going to A.’

‘A what?’

‘A festival.’

‘What festival?’

Fun for a while, but hmm. So, the search went on. Maybe find a new angle.

Extension.foward

We also had another candidate: Ity. Funny name if you see it just by itself, but just think about the options you potentially have with words that end on -ity: creativity, clarity, festivity, municipality, proportionality, curiosity, sustainability, liveability, city, etc. It looks like something is missing, that it needs something else to be complete, which is precisely the goal, so it facilitates ‘bringing together’ and describing topics. But it also invited creativity and playfulness with domain names. ity.amsterdam was available, and could be translated to subdomains: creativ.ity.amsterdam, sustainabil.ity.amsterdam, etc. always holding the name in the middle. Which set us on a course to learn what domains are available. The domain .amsterdam is, but that was far to narrow, we wanted to include the region, and that’s difficult when Amsterdam is so prominent. So, .region or .metropole would have been nice. But unfortenately not yet available. But .city was.

During the search were watching a great documentary, The Human Scale.

In that documentary was a nice line: ‘First we shape our cities. Then the cities shape us.’ That sparked further thinking. So, when urbanisation leads to further densification of cities, how do we make sure that we make the city, instead of that the city defines us? How do we stay in control? Of the city, systems, instead of the other way around? How do you make the city? And what do you do to make the city? This, together with knowing .city was an available option, gave direction to what became the name.

Where letters as characters became cityscapes. The thought was, if we would replace all letters with a building representing landmarks and known buildings from the Amsterdam Metropole Area together with other fun items, then you could just simply type a landscape. This was was also the moment to call Stang, who has a really clear and iconic visual illustration style. I asked him if I could ‘borrow’ a couple of buildings to play around with the idea:

That worked perfectly. Which also allowed playful application in texts. Like for example fill up negative space with urban items:

City illustrations by Stang

For communication, this name and its digital character also opened up possibilities:

All rights of the used images above belong to their respective owners. Images only have been used in mood boards to visually explain ideas and direction to others. There is no intent whatsoever to pretend any kind of ownership or infringe copyrights.

Which turned into video also worked quite well.

All rights of the used images above belong to their respective owners. Images only have been used in mood boards to visually explain ideas and direction to others. There is no intent whatsoever to pretend any kind of ownership or infringe copyrights.

So, WeMakeThe.City it was. With potentially endless possibilities for future applications. Awesomeness. And, more importantly, we could explain each section of the name. What we mean with ‘we’, by ‘make’ and ‘the city’. And make sure we could use all possibilities of the idea, we registered a lot of varieties of the name to play around with in the future.