Heartwood: Southwest Virginia's Artisan Gateway
Heartwood is a $16 million, 30,000 SF tourist destination originated by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Heartwood was devised to boost the “creative economy” emerging in the nineteen‐county region of Southwest Virginia and encourage it to supplement the manufacturing, industrial, tobacco and coal‐based industries of the past with a new, sustainable economy that capitalizes on the unique cultural heritage of the region. A remarkably original tourist attraction, Heartwood showcases the talents of the region's diverse community of artisans and musicians while enticing visitors to explore and support Southwest Virginia's wealth of cultural, natural, and commercial attractions. Visible from Interstate 81, Heartwood opened in the summer of 2011. It is expected to attract more than 270,000 visitors, create twenty‐four direct jobs, generate $2.2 million in revenue, and result in a total economic impact in excess of $28 million for the region.
While developing the graphic standards that define the visitor experience at the facility, 1717 Design created a speculative design proposal for a striking visual identity to support the emerging brand. The simple abstract symbol was based on the coincidental similarity of the building's distinct architectural profile and the shape of the nineteen counties that make up the Southwest Virginia region. A friendly script logotype was added along with a small “Virginia is for Lovers” heart to mark Heartwood's location in Abingdon. Presentation renderings were developed to show how the logo could be applied to a wide variety of marketing materials and merchandise. Although the design was not selected for implementation in its original form, we still feel it successfully represents all the critical elements of the brand promise — that the Heartwood experience will be ‘authentic, distinctive, and alive.’
Also see the Heartwood retail and food service environments designed by 1717.