What if a mobile lamp could activate our emotions? What if we could feel digital light as viscerally as the sun’s rays? What if a brand could also be a collective art practice? These questions guided Timon and Melchior Grau as they reimagined their father’s lighting company, Tobias Grau, into GRAU: merging their ongoing art practice and collaborations with their family’s industrial design legacy. We worked closely with their team to articulate a new vision for the role of light in people’s lives across strategy, visual identity, and voice.
In a crowded category, we found a white space where no luxury lighting brand could play: radical wellbeing. For GRAU, lamps are more than design objects. They are vessels for light, which has the power to shape our inner and outer worlds — how we think and feel, collaborate and connect. We helped redefine our fundamental relationship with light into an enduring new mission: “Activate what makes us human.”
Just as GRAU designs lighting that is stripped back to its essential form, we developed an elemental visual identity that becomes activated by its contents. The result is far from bare: visceral, sensorial imagery breathes life into an understated graphic system while capturing the emotional and spiritual qualities of light. Never minimal for its own sake, the brand was designed to be a carrier of meaning.
We constructed a logo with open geometric forms, engineered to take on new meanings over time. Across physical and digital applications, the mark becomes an iconic signature for GRAU products and art practice. To complement it: Antarctica, a sans serif typeface from Newglyph that is equally utilitarian and conversational. As an exercise in reduction, the color palette relies on a neutral foundation of black and off-white; accents of red and blue nod to the visible light spectrum’s expressions of warm and cool. Ample negative space, a keystone of digital and analog compositions, becomes its own brand gesture by making room for other elements to artfully coexist.
In GRAU products, cutting-edge digital technology meets the user in responsive, tactile interfaces. We mirrored that approach in the brand’s expression on web, including only the essential while allowing digital experiences to come alive through human interaction.
‘Activation’ is realized through figurative and abstract imagery, too. The photographic approach developed with the GRAU team shows how light activates different human emotions, actions, and spaces; ambient blurs (often in motion) suggest the sensorial qualities of light. Rounding out brand imagery are artist collaborations — living proof of a collective ethos. The resulting visual landscape oscillates between crisp and atmospheric, conceptual and familiar.
Woven through the brand world is an illuminating verbal identity that acts as a guiding light. Inspired by artistic and theoretical inquiry, GRAU voice often poses questions and speaks to fundamental truths to unearth the root of our humanity. At other times, it leans into clear, vivid detail, communicating the benefits of technology with practical precision. This tension between theory and utility is the point. As Melchior Grau posed in an interview with PIN-UP, “Why can’t a brand produce art? And why can we not also, as artists, bring out products that people can use?”
Created in Partnership with GRAU
Leo Porto, Felipe Rocha
Joseph Lebus, Chae Park, David Klein, Leo Porto, Felipe Rocha
Thales Muniz, Fionn Breen
Marcos Rodrigues, Heena Chung
Natalee Ranii Dropcho, Claren Walker
Luciana Thiesen, Claren Walker, Samantha Cruz, Nicholas Schröder
Case Study Production:
Timon Grau, Melchior Grau
We Make Websites
Artists for GRAU Collaborations:
Nicolas Santos & Stini Roehrs
Antarctica by Newglyph