Höfuðstöðin / The Headquarters

Höfuðstöðin (The Headquarter) is an art and culture center in Reykjavik, Iceland, that is the permanent home to the multi-sensory installation Chromo Sapiens by the artist Shoplifter (Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir).


Karlssonwilker was commissioned to design the center’s identity, branding and digital platforms. The objective was to create a branding experience that combines the serious form language of an international art institution with a playful approach that is in direct dialogue with the artwork itself and the site-specific venue. Juxtaposing sober and minimal black and white graphics with the exuberantly colorful and tactile installation creates an element of surprise that adds depth to the experience.

Shoplifter in front of Höfuðstöðin

Flags greet visitors on the road to Höfuðstöðin


On one hand, the logo’s cascading rows of letters is a subtle nod to the artist’s use of artificial hair as her medium. On the other, it’s a comment on the opaqueness of the Icelandic language. To a foreigner, the name Höfuðstöðin looks so impenetrable that it is almost meaningless. Karlssonwilker exaggerates this effect by repeating the word until it’s basically illegible and reduced to a decorative pattern. This pattern is further explored and appropriated in motion graphics, merchandise and packaging.


The logo also draws a connection to the venue itself and its location. From the front, Höfuðstöðin’s exterior has the look of an upscale garage, and the building is semi- attached to a complex of auto shops and car wash businesses that are the hallmark of this remote area. To make the entrance stand out from a distance, Karlssonwilker designed rooftop signage in the shape of a massive spinning a connection to the immersive, waterfall-like quality of the installation, the unspooled look of the logo and the history and culture of the location itself. (Due to a pending permit process, this sign is still in progress.)

Interior Signage

Bathroom signage
Chromo Sapiens