The Creation of a Corporate Furniture Brand Operis

Categoria: Ciências sociais aplicadas: Arquitetura Imprimir Email





The object of this article is Operis brand, created by designer Norberto Chamma. The goal is to investigate the process of the project designer from the systematic analysis of the creation and development of this brand. The research was supported by the concepts under Geneplore theory to explain the generation and exploration of ideas that characterize creativity. The intention is to show the genesis and transformation of ideas throughout the design process.

Keywords: Visual Identity. Creativity. Cognition.



O objeto de estudo deste artigo é a marca Operis, criada pelo designer Norberto Chamma. O objetivo é investigar o processo de projeto do designer a partir da análise sistemática da criação e desenvolvimento desta marca. A pesquisa apoiou-se nos conceitos advindos da Teoria do Geneplore para explicar a geração e a exploração de ideias que caracterizam a criatividade. A intenção é mostrar a gênese e as transformações das ideias ao longo do processo de projeto.

Palavras-chave: Identidade Visual. Criatividade. Cognição.



El objeto de estudio de este artículo es la marca Operis, creada por el diseñador Norberto Chamma. El objetivo es investigar el proceso de diseño del diseñador a partir del análisis sistemático de la creación y el desarrollo de esta marca. La investigación se basó en los conceptos derivados de la Teoría del Geneplore para explicar la generación y exploración de ideas que caracterizan la creatividad. La intención es mostrar la génesis y las transformaciones de ideas a lo largo del proceso de diseño.

Palabra clave: Identidad Visual. Creatividad. Cognición.


In an increasingly competitive world, creating a visual identity is extremely important. A brand represents the personality, characteristics, and philosophy of the company.

For the branding consultant, Alina Wheeler (2009), competition faces endless choices. Companies search for ways to connect with consumers and establish a long-term relationship. People improve their skills and rely on brands. The way a brand is seen affects its success. As the designer and researcher Gilberto Strunck (2007) says, successful brands offer besides functional benefits, emotional benefits leading to loyalty. This experience is carefully planned by designers in the brand creation. It is almost impossible to keep a technological competitive edge. Consequently, Strunck (2007) affirms ‘’ [...] on market sectors with products or services with similar performances and prices, the choice is based on brand subjective”. (STRUNCK, 2007, p.19).

The purpose of this article is the process of creating the brand Operis, by architect and designer Norberto Chamma for the corporate furniture of the Fortline Company. The creative process of the designer will be investigated from the systematic analysis of the creation and development of this brand. The research was based on concepts from the Theory of Creativity called Geneplore, proposed by Finke, Ward and Smith, to explain the generation and exploration of ideas that characterize creativity and cognition in design. Consequently, the intention is to show the genesis and the transformations of the ideas throughout the design process, the knowledge used, and the creative traits present in this process.

Between 2013 and 2014, a monitoring of the office projects was made in which Norberto Chamma is founder: Und Design. Data and graphic records of a brand for a corporate furniture company were collected for three weeks. The development of a visual identity was monitored weekly, collecting all meaningful artefacts including testimonials from researches about their projects. Thus, knowledge, information and professional data were analyzed from artefacts produced by the designer and his team to identify creativity traces.

According to Nigel Cross (2001), the study of project actions can help understanding specific subjects in design theory, particularly with regard to the development of mastery and domain in this field. In Brazil, studies on the creative process through the psychology of creativity and cognition ,are rare, particularly observing graphic design cases, like the creation and development of a visual identity. Therefore, this research contributes to it.

Creativity and Cognition at Work

The research was carried out in three steps. First, programmed readings to extract and synthesize the main concepts of visual identity, creativity, and cognition. In the second step, an ethnographic method that follows actions made in the workplace was used. Weekly visits to the designer office to collect and observe the creation of a brand were made. In order to explain the process development and visualize the ideas transformation, graphic records collected were organized chronologically, establishing a timeline to understand the sequence of creation. The third step consisted of analyses of these artefacts and its meanings, allowing reflection and discussion about the creative process through the psychology of creativity and cognition.

For the brand study, interviews were made with personal reports of the designer about a project in progress at the Und Design office. With these interviews and material kindly given, it was possible to establish links about the process. Collected artefacts (draws, photos, texts etc.) temporally organized, made it possible to identify the guiding line of the reasoning for creating and developing the brand, production, as it happened with ideas transformations over this production period.

Cognition researches in the last four decades can affirm that there are at least four general characteristics on daily thoughts (NEWELL; SIMON, 1972; WEISBERG, 2006): (i) our thoughts are structured, in other words, an idea follows another (with or without connection between them); (ii) our thought depends on what we have learned; (iii) knowledge and concepts acquired guide our actions; (iv) Our thought is sensible to the physical environment and its events (FLORIO; MATEUS, 2011). As a result, we act and react to internal and external stimuli. Besides that, as human thought is structured, internal connections between several aspects are caused by stimuli received from the physical environment. These four characteristics mentioned were identified during the monitored process of the project.

In 1954, Joy Paul Guilford defined two basic types of thoughts: divergent and convergent. In the first one, the individual produces different ideas, in the second one the individual selects and delves into one idea to solve the problem. It is interesting to notice how our thought swings between general and specific, between analyses and synthesis or between generation of different ideas and individual exploration of each one.

According to creativity psychology, it is necessary to analyze knowledge and the professional environment, as well as internal and external motivations. According to the researches Mary Ann Collins and Teresa Amabile (2009), internal motivations are more important: accomplishment desire, self-motivation, satisfaction in doing it well, etc. External motivations like work remuneration and recognition by partners are important, but not as much as the internal motivation for self-satisfaction.

Todd Lubart (2007) defined creativity as the capacity to produce something innovative and adapted to its context at the same time. The combination of innovative ideas is one of foundations of creativity. In this article, we tried to identify and reveal how the designer could extract previous knowledge, combine them, and adapt them according to the present situation in the creation of a brand.

To verify and identify some patterns and aspects of the creative process, this research is based on some cognitive actions of the project process.

Lubart (2007) presents four stages to verify the creative processes. The preparation stage is where a preliminary analysis begins, a research phase to join information that may define problems that will be faced during the process. In this phase, it is necessary knowledge about the problem, education, and conscious work. In the second phase, incubation, ideas accumulate, and the brain keeps working silently unconsciously, making connections and associations.

When these promising ideas become conscious, Lubart calls it illumination (or insight). In the final stage, verification, the conscious work to assess, define, and develop ideas occurs.

One of the theoretical references used on this research is the Geneplore model, developed by Finke, Ward and Smith (1922). This model is divided into two parts: the generation of ideas and its exploration.

In the generation of ideas phase, the more experienced one is, more ideas one will be capable of creating. From generated ideas, the exploratory moment starts, which means testing and developing every idea created. If at least one developed idea gets satisfactory results, the project will be concluded; otherwise, it returns to the generative phase and keeps creating new ideas to be explored in a new cycle. In this context, the way creative people create and hold new ideas is pointed out.

Generative Process

Pre-inventive structure

Pre-inventive properties

Exploratory Process

Product restrictions


Visual Patterns


Attribute discovery

Product Type


Object shapes


Conceptual interpretation



Mental mixtures


Functional inference



Specimen category


Contextual change


Analogical Transfer

Mental Models


Hypothesis testing


Categorical reduction

Verbal combinations


Search for limitations


Chart 1: Examples of cognitive process, structures, properties, and restrictions of Geneplore model. Source: Finke, Ward and Smith, 1922. Adapted by authors.

In Chart 1, we can notice generative processes and their properties. The six generative processes are used in different situations of the project. In the present study, it was possible to identify that the designer Norberto Chamma recovers information and memory knowledge to establish associations. As it will be seen forward, it was noted that it restructures and extracts concepts of other projects previously stored on memory besides synthesis and transformation. Predominance of processes that boost the production of ideas production is noticed, such as analogue transference and categorical reduction.

Analysis of Operis Creative Project

After an alliance between Fortline company and two complementary products companies (Figure 1a), the idea was to create a new furniture brand. In this project of visual identity, the challenge was restructuring existing companies that intended to change the segment to retail for corporative furniture of great quality and high cost. Therefore, the three companies marketed the furniture.

Because of that change and without possibility of being mistaken for the past, it would be necessary to produce new identities for these companies. To reach that, the project had to combine the creation of new brands, managed by the Fortline company, with the products already sold by the other company, Aresline. In figure 1, it is possible to view the organization chart on the composition of the companies involved.

Figure 1a: Above. Visual identities of the companies Fortline, D’Fatto and Aresline. Figure 1b: Below to the left. Composition of companies and brands. Figure 1c: Below to the right. Organization chart with new names of the companies. Source: Und Design, 2013Figure 1a: Above. Visual identities of the companies Fortline, D’Fatto and Aresline. Figure 1b: Below to the left. Composition of companies and brands. Figure 1c: Below to the right. Organization chart with new names of the companies. Source: Und Design, 2013

To set up the resulting image from the merger between the companies, Fortline became the institutional brand (Figure 1b), while the new brand Operis was for corporate furniture (Figure 1c). InWall became the new brand of Divisórias, while Aresline would continue as the brand of Italian technological design furniture. To finish, mov3 became the new brand of the seller.

To observe the sequence of ideas developed by Norberto Chamma, we will analyze the transformations during the creation of Operis systematically. Testimonials and artefacts produced by the research were collected from interviews of April 2013. Still, it is important to highlight that this brand was also chosen because the “traces” of Norberto's ideas in the testimonies and in the collected material can be noticed with relative ease..

During the first two weeks, Chamma researched incessantly. However, according to him, the search did not stop, continuing along the project always to improve from new discoveries. Norberto Chamma affirmed that nothing comes from nothing: ‘’You might be thinking of that for a while, being submerged on the project’’ (CHAMMA, 2013). From this immersion in the creative process, he affirmed that one needs to draw and write: ‘’I am building the work little by little, over that. My memory is very visual, I need to see part of what I am thinking while drawing or writing for continuing my thought.’’ (CHAMMA, 2013).

Generation of ideas, in a visual way, is a characteristic of design (NOBLE; BESTLEY, 2005). The produced graphical register allows one to follow his/her visual thought. This report confirms what creativity researcher Robert Weisberg (2009) said: “intense practice by work immersion generates significant contributions that can lead to creativity”.

To develop the name of furniture companies, Norberto appealed many times to a dictionary and delved into ethnographies and related words. Then, when he was researching the meaning of a few words – such as desk, chair and wood – he came across the word work and saw a connection between the Latin word Opus, and Operis, that basically mean work.

The constant search for new concepts for the brand is noticeable. Norberto was always looking to subvert the brand’s image. Creativity is in the exploration of existing ideas to create new ones. As Lorenzo Imbesi (2012) affirmed, it consists in the capacity to capture the relationship between existing ideas and produce new combinations for other purposes.

In his research, Norberto Chamma (whose nickname is Lelé) noticed that in the corporate furniture field, companies always show the idea of loneliness, in big glass towers with minimalist empty offices without people (Figure 2). This vision transmitted by the research, allowed a competitive edge to be explored.

Realizing this lack of people and humanity, Lelé decided to follow the opposite path. During the night at home while resting, he browsed through décor magazines and noticed some furniture lines were already trying to insert an everyday life environment with people. This contributed to developing the brand (Figure 3 by the right).

Figure 2: Analysis of similar. Source Und Design, 2013.Figure 2: Analysis of similar. Source Und Design, 2013.

When the creative mind is involved in an activity that one likes, work is pleasant (CSIKCSZENTMIHALYI, 1996). The trend is to take with us questions to be solved, our creative mind does not rest facing a challenge. Even in relaxing moments, it tries to make connections with the problems. According to the psychologist and renown creativity researcher, Mihaly Csikcszentmihalyi (1996), the creative mind generates new ideas, known as insight, while it is practicing some relaxing activity or in relaxing moments.

After lunch, hanging out on the streets around Paulista Avenue in the city of São Paulo, where Norberto Chamma lives and works, he was distracted thinking about the brand, creation. On the way, he went to a newsstand and saw a décor magazine by chance. In that moment, Lelé found what was missing to complete the concept that he was looking for: he took photos of the cover of the magazine and bought it (Figure 3). This situation was an insight.

 Figure 3: Initial inspiration sources for the brand’s concept. On the right: Photo of the magazine cover. On the left: Furniture inspiration with people. Source: Und 2013.Figure 3: Initial inspiration sources for the brand’s concept. On the right: Photo of the magazine cover. On the left: Furniture inspiration with people. Source: Und 2013.


When I saw the cover (of the magazine), suddenly I knew what to do. I was looking for a way to combine humanity with quality and modularity, I wanted something organic, then I thought about those round armchairs. I took a picture of the magazine and went to the office (CHAMMA, 2013).

Certainly, his look was not uncompromised. Because of having an experienced look, he carries mental schemes and knowledge that build up his repertory. Besides that, his expertise of almost forty years of career made him look at that object and establish relations with what was worrying him. The designer noticed the key for the brand creation on that armchair, and a universe of possibilities about what he could do. Indeed, as Robert Sternberg (2007) affirmed, one cannot think creatively unless one knows the subject.

Knowing what he intended, it was possible to notice that the designer refined his researches and, as it is possible to observe in figure 4, he designed an organic form based on classic seats forms, having all Operis concepts.

Figure 4: Sequence of ideas. Source: Und Design, 2013.Figure 4: Sequence of ideas. Source: Und Design, 2013.

Figure 5a: Above. Sequence of ideas. Figure 5b: Below. Results of the first Operis trend. Source: Und Design, 2013.Figure 5a: Above. Sequence of ideas. Figure 5b: Below. Results of the first Operis trend. Source: Und Design, 2013.

The Creative Cognition of Finke, Ward and Smith (1992) (Chart 1) can be fully identified in this example. When remembering something that you did in the past (recovery), and from what was observed in the present, the designer automatically made associations. In this process, synthesis and transformations were also identified because of the magazine chair that turned into a brand. After making analogies between the chair and the brand, and after arriving in his office, he designed organic forms (Figure 4 and 5a) representing the result of his Creative Cognition, that was the generation of mental combinations that resulted in new visual patterns.

Creating ideas easily is what differs an experienced professional from a novice professional. The expert professional can produce and explore a larger number of ideas. Finke, Ward and Smith (1922) show that the creation of ideas process is the base in their research. In the visual identity project, brands usually are experimentally developed. The journey that originates brand models, called by ‘’trend’’ in Und Design, are presented and submitted for approval by customers. The organic form of figure 6a was developed to assist expected concepts, originating the first trend of the brand.

It is interesting to notice how the organic form of the seat was used and synthesized in a singular model. We can see that this form was explored in many ways to represent different concepts. Consequently, it was used to create the first trend (Figure 5b).

Using this organicity of the form, Lelé continued experimenting new ways of organization. His attempt led to test lines and contours. He settled affective relations with the brand. In this case, Chamma put curved lines as representations of humanity and connectivity. In figure 6, it is possible to see successive steps of idea transformation. First, he experimented with different contours and lines of the trend one. After that, Norberto started to identify and develop patterns on the symbol, resulting in the star shape.

It is important to highlight that in similar projects, Norberto recovers from his repertory stored knowledge of past experiences to apply in new projects consciously or unconsciously. Finke, Ward and Smith (1992) characterize this type of cognitive ability as analogical transfer, which takes back a previously known structure in another situation.

Figure 6: Sequence of ideas transformation. Source: Und Design, 2013.Figure 6: Sequence of ideas transformation. Source: Und Design, 2013. 

Norberto Chamma (2013) said that he looked on his computer for a star drawing that he produced. From then on, he used this reference as we can see in the first image by the left on figure 7a. Recovering memory knowledge is an important cognitive action for the designer due to the wide repertory of his experience.

  Figure 7a (above) and 7b (below): Images used as reference by Operis. Source: Und Design, 2013.Figure 7a (above) and 7b (below): Images used as reference by Operis. Source: Und Design, 2013.

Another source for reference of the brand creation was searched in nature. In a distracted moment while smoking a cigarette, he remembered of the aesthetic of gecko’s foot (Figure 7b).

From this star [...] I have enhanced it with five tips instead of four as the initial idea of an asterisk [...] I thought of doing it as gecko’s foot, where I found images and made the form that I wanted. (CHAMMA, 2013)

Therefore, it has an analogical transfer between the geometry of an animal body and the brand. The organicity that Norberto was looking for the brand was in nature. When he examined, he realized qualities that applied for the concept in his mind.

In figure 8, we can observe the sequence of transformations on forms. Initial geometry was improved, demanding several hours of work. From this improvement (another cognitive process), we can observe that it has more organicity, forming new visual patterns.

Other concepts that Norberto added were attitude, affection, and humanity. For that, he alluded to curves and organic forms as ‘’bodies’’, using star shapes as an icon (Figure 9a). It represents the relation between the human body and its transference for the brand. In this combination of concepts, the designer justifies the reason of the brand, finding arguments from a human body rereading a gecko’s foot and the star. Soon, in Geneplore exploratory phase (Chart 1), he discovers attributes, tests hypothesis, and makes functional inferences.

Figure 8: Sequence of ideas transformations. Source: Und Design, 2013.Figure 8: Sequence of ideas transformations. Source: Und Design, 2013.

As a result, we have trend two (Figure 9b). Norberto affirms ‘’Reaching this symbol was very interesting because I have been thinking about this star for forty, fifty years […] I draw it and think in that shape, so this project is nearly done’’.

In fact, the designer can recover a brand’s creation from the past, associating with other stored elements (stars, animals) and transferring it all to the present project context (analogical transfer). There is also a categorical reduction, which is the reduction of elements and objects in primitives and synthetic descriptions.


Figure 9a: Above. Sequence of ideas. Figure 9b: Below. Final trend of the brand. Source: Und DesignFigure 9a: Above. Sequence of ideas. Figure 9b: Below. Final trend of the brand. Source: Und Design


Figure 10: Sequence of ideas transformation. Source: Und Design, 2013.Figure 10: Sequence of ideas transformation. Source: Und Design, 2013.

The brand (Figure 9b) continues to be explored. Norberto makes successive transformations, creating new meanings for the main qualities to be transmitted by the brand. In figure 10, we can see the hypothesis tested and conceptual inferences pointed by Finke, Ward and Smith. Those graphic registers show a thinking chaining, connections and transformation of ideas: the circle, connectivity, organicity, atom, cells, humanity and cyclic. These natural references and cyclic infinity lead Norberto to aureus rectangles and the Fibonacci sequence. As a result, the cyclic spiral concept, always in transformation, is explored in a simpler way by the sequence (Figure 11a).

Figure 11a: Above. Fibonacci Sequence. Figure 11b: Below. Sequence of ideas transformation. Source: Und Design, 2013.Figure 11a: Above. Fibonacci Sequence. Figure 11b: Below. Sequence of ideas transformation. Source: Und Design, 2013.

The Fibonacci Sequence (Figure 11a) provides proportion, rhythm, and harmony. In these trends, Norberto reaches the Fibonacci spiral. Transformations in this idea can be seen by the following figures.

The geometrical rigor of this study shows that infinity concept and connection between parts to form harmony were continually worked. The use of analogical and complementary colors and succession of squares inside an aureus rectangle reveals with clarity the parts, operating in harmony. On the other hand, the text ”operis’’ swings in and out the square, and in horizontal and vertical position (Figure 11b). Consequently, the designer has the third alternative or trend as a result (Figure 12).

Figure 12: Trend three final brands. Source: Und Design, 2013.Figure 12: Trend three final brands. Source: Und Design, 2013.

Figure 13: Sequence of ideas transformation. Source: Und Design, 2013.Figure 13: Sequence of ideas transformation. Source: Und Design, 2013.

It is clear the concern in having a brand with an economy of graphic resources with visual strength. Conciseness and precision are expressed by a square form, with or without color that can reinforce geometry in Fibonacci Sequence. The results of this transformation (Figure 13, below to the right) is the fourth trend production.
Figure 14: Comparative between the four trends. Source: Und Design, 2013.Figure 14: Comparative between the four trends. Source: Und Design, 2013.

Consequently, we have the four trends set (Figure 14) which can be compared with each other. It Is interesting to notice how the alternatives for the same brand were derived from different concepts, but they have an intimate relation. The brand creation is full of concerns and concepts that underlie what you want for the public image of the company.

Final considerations

The systematic analyses of this research show it is necessary to reach a set of factors, attributes and characteristics that contributes to develop and stimulate creativity for a creative individual. The creative process is not linear as the one presented by Lubart. The illumination phase does not happen only by insight (FLORIO, 2011). In this study, it was observed that there are several moments that make new ideas arise. The creative process depends on a deep immersion about what to do, not only the moments. It can emerge after intense and hard work. The successive graphic registers made the brand to be reconsidered every moment.

When generating ideas, the designer Norberto Chamma did not hold on fixed ideas. The experienced professional knows that it is premature to choose without testing different hypotheses. When he opens a great number of possibilities, he provides a comparison and a selection of the most promising for the moment of the process. The chosen brand was possible to identify how Chamma created and explored ideas to pick the appropriate for each situation. This swing between divergent and convergent thought demonstrated his analysis capacity specially for generating different ideas, as well as synthesis, making possible the discernment of what idea would be the best for the solution of the problem.

This ethnographic research identified actions during the creation process. Besides that, the presence of four general characteristics in daily thought previously pointed was found: (i) the designer thoughts are structured; (ii) his thought recovers what he has learned in the past; (iii) his thoughts and concepts direct his actions; (iv) his thought is sensible to the physical environment and its events.

Norberto has a big capacity of recovering past ideas and creating new brands in the present. Connections and analogies identified in this study demonstrated the attentive virtual thought, his expertise and creative capacity. Visual identity for Operis was possible because the designer was flexible for changes, had the capacity to revisit something known and provision to reinterpret and transform this knowledge into something new.

To conclude, we can affirm that any individual can be creative. Yet, at least five basic conditions are needed: (i) have a work immersion; (ii) form a broad repertory of solutions; (iii) take risks and face obstacles; (iv) have a deep intrinsic motivation and love what you do; (v) develop the capacity of reflecting about what is produced. Knowledge, experiences, and abilities are essential, but also attitudes to face and place the unknown ahead.


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About the authors:



degree.A. in Visual Arts by the University of Campinas, diploma from CM class of Madrid in creation of online content, management of communities and social media.

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Assistant professor of the Graduate program in Architecture of Mackenzie University and assistant professor of the Institute of Arts at the University of Campinas. Ex-coordinator of the graduate program of the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism Mackenzie. Coordinator of the Internationalization Project ‘’City, Project and Equity’’.

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LUCENA, Danilo Francisco Soares de; FLORIO, Wilson. 5% Arquitetura + Arte, São Paulo, ano 15, v. 01, n.19, e122, p. 1-21, jun./jun/2020. Disponível em: 

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