Design Museum London
Visual identity contrasting the old and the new
Design Museum London is a museum dedicated to showcasing contemporary designs in architecture, digital, fashion, product and graphics that captures the spirit of the modern era and promotes or delivers change.
As the Design Museum prepares to move location into the former Commonwealth Institute, a new identity has been designed where the visual system reflects both the esteemed architecture of the new building and their philosophy of what design is, whilst conveying all of the different design disciplines.
Though the museum displays modern designs, its purpose is to inspire the audience and challenge them to think about the value of design. Their ideal of design is that it shapes the world, and design moves so fast that something new today becomes part of design history tomorrow. Design does not stand still, and at some point the analog gave way to the digital, and by tracking that shift can we really begin to understand what design is from observing the changes that occurred in between. Looking at the past shows us how far we’ve come, which makes modern objects more meaningful, and it presents where we are now and where we are headed.
I felt that it was really important to highlight the idea that design is constantly changing and progressing, and I have designed an identity that reflects this evolving nature by creating contrasts between the old and the new. Creating links to history within the system allows the audience to be aware of both the past and the present.
To create a contrast between the old and the new, the main logo has been designed to resemble ornamental typography that contrasts with the modernity of the museum. The system creates further contrasts with the use of dark and light colors, a historic and modern typeface, and an identity linked to the past contrasting with a modern layout.
Angles inspired by the Commonwealth Institute has also been utilized to create a sense of contrast between space both in the digital and the environmental area of the museum, and also creates a hierarchy for the type placements.
Logo and Type
The logo has been inspired from the Arts & Crafts Movement, which was an influential period in London where the emphasis was put on hand-craft, embellishments, and decorations. This reference allowed the identity to contrast nicely between the ornamental of the past with the simplicity of the modern.
Ornamental typography was hand-crafted and was used on official documents to show that they were genuine because of how difficult it was to forge them, and they had strong connotations of prestige, elegance and authenticity, and I wanted to bring those to the museum’s identity to add to their reputation and put them in a position of credibility.
The initial approach seemingly put too much emphasis on the past and no longer represented a modern museum, so it was updated to play a modern twist of ornamental typography rather than make a direct reference. The floral decorations were removed along with the golden texture, and the typeface was changed as well.
The monoweight lines and the minimal nature with plenty of free space makes it look a lot more contemporary whilst retaining the connotations of ornamental typography.
Caslon, which is a type used mostly in newspapers, books, and novels has been chosen as secondary type; in contrast, Avenir has been chose as primary type to give a contemporary feel to the museum.
Overall Design System
Colors have been chosen to show the firm and authoritative aspect of the museum as opposed to colors that are bright, colorful and playful. These colors work well when they are combined together because they always create a contrast of light and dark.
The visual language is simple yet creates a stark contrast between dark and light colors, old and new typefaces, and an identity linked to the past and the modernity of the museum, and these contrasts allow the viewers to be aware of both the past and the present for them to appreciate modern objects by looking at how far we have come.