Reykjavik Art Museum
The Reykjavík Art Museum is the preeminent art museum in Iceland, with three locations across the capital, each focusing on different decades and artists.
karlssonwilker developed the Museum’s new identity and design system, which needed to speak to both local and international audiences. In previous years, the percentage of foreign visitors to the museum had surged from five percent to nearly fifty. The names of the three museums, their locations, and individual communications were inconsistent, and consideration was given to renaming them altogether. This, along with existing research suggested the identity to communicate a “three as one” message, in a simple, easy to understand manner to first-time visitors as well as locals and long-term patrons of the museum—“three as one”—as in “one museum, three locations.”
“The Reykjavik Art Museum partnered with prominent New York-based design studio karlssonwilker inc. to offer a fresh perspective on the development of a cohesive brand identity for its three art museums. karlssonwilker has an inherent cultural awareness which speaks to both local and international audiences”.
—Ólöf Kristín Sigurðardóttir,
The Reykjavik Art Museum Identity was nominated as one of the Beazley Designs of the Year 2017.
The Reykjavik Art Museum Identity was been featured on The History of Graphic Design Vol.2., Taschen.
We launched a creative exploratory phase which produced several project directions that were discussed extensively with the client. After additional sessions with the museum’s stakeholders and designer Armann Agnarsson, the “triangle” direction was the clear choice. An identifiable symbol that acts as an indicator and directive arrow, it leads visitors to each of the museums and is featured within each location. While the museum continues to grow and use the identity, we have continued expanding the brand toolkit, recently introducing several new components.
All explorations into new brand components began with unlocking the triangle from its fixed positions as logos for the 3 houses. Only after it was moving in space, multiplying, and rotating freely did we revisit the other elements of the identity including color and typography.
As part of a brand expansion for the museum in 2020, we introduced several adjustments, including a color system of vibrant gradients and more playful & strange treatments of the 3-dimensional logo.
Alongside these adjustments, a system for generating digital and printed museum collateral was created in Processing, yielding videos and screenshots that expressed these new logo and color changes.
Each animation uses different movement, patterns, and shaders. While they can be displayed as-is on screens within the museum, these animations can also be run as generators for usage on stationery and other museum collateral.
A tool was developed for drafting initial explorations of the logo in 3D within Processing, testing new compositions, textures and gradients in an interactive and generative way.
These were then used to create individual Processing sketches that produced the final compositions and shaded versions of the logo.
The original identity lives on in patterns and products, but will slowly be replaced with the 2.0 treatment on all museum collateral.
The final brand identity focuses on the extruded triangle, with the Museum’s three locations placed on its sides. Based on that prism, we created patterns that were implemented across all marketing and communication materials, inclusive of signage, banners across Reykjavik, advertising, store items, and other items. The identity uses both bi-dimensional and 3D logotype for programming and the Museum communications.
Digitally, we redesigned the website, maintaining most of the previous content structure. However, to provide visitors with a better user-flow, we divided the website into three main columns, referring to each museum separately, so that users could easily find what is happening in the three different spaces. The website logo moves across the screen, indicating the connection between the three museums, creating a fully integrated feel between online and offline elements.
The typeface used is Activ Grotesk (Dalton Maag, London). It is used mostly in two styles, Bold and Light; Bold is used contextually for Icelandic language, and Light for English. The color scheme uses faint pastel gradients, reminiscent of the Nordic skies that offer a wide range of ever-so-slightly changing light.
Finally, we created a resourceful style guide for the museum’s in-house team, providing them with the tools to implement the identity. The style guide is a key piece to any re-branding effort, ensuring the visual system is executed concisely, making sure the museum presents itself consistently and successfully.
We continue to work with the museum, providing them with creative direction for exhibitions and special events.