United Nations University


Developing a visual language that embodies the activities of the United Nations University.


The United Nations University (UNU) plays an important role in bridging international academic institutions and organizations within the United Nations system by collaborating with leading universities and research institutes of UN member countries. It engages in solving pressing global problems of human survival, development, and welfare, which are the concerns of the UN and its member states. UNU’s existence is well known for being located on Aoyama-dori in Shibuya, and the iconic building designed by world-renowned architecture firm Kenzo Tange Associates. However, it faces a continued challenge that the breadth of its activities were not well known to the general public.


The UNU Headquarters Building was selected as an ideal medium for communicating what UNU does to local audiences. MORI DESIGN held a series of meetings with UNU staff to address the challenge of how to best use public areas to convey its activities. In the end, we developed a visual language inspired by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) logo. The SDGs are a united effort of governments, corporations, citizens, societies, and UN agencies around the world. Each of the 17 goals has a designated icon and color, which are usually used independently. However, as the UNU’s activities cover all 17 SDGs, many of which overlap and influence each other, we designed an original visual language by deconstructing the SDG logo and recombining multiple pieces to create the image of each activity. The visual language is now widely deployed on UNU facilities, signage, websites, brochures, social media, and annual reports. UNU is planning to use the visual language continuously over the long term, as a graphical and comprehensive representation of its interconnected activities.

“Partnering with Mori Design brings much more than the expected professional visual communications mastery. Capacity across multiple business sectors bring a unique awareness and commitment to delivering impactful experiences that matter to my clients and their customers.”

Curtis Christophersen, Project Coordinator, UNU Communications


United Nations University


  • Visual Identity
  • Art Direction
  • Graphic Design

Creative Collaborators:

Junpei Kato, Photography



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