MAURITSHUIS — A NEW IDENTITY FOR THE HOME OF DUTCH GOLDEN AGE PAINTING
Built in the 17th century and acquired by the Dutch State in 1820, the Mauritshuis is a fine example of Dutch Classicist architecture. Home of the Royal Picture Gallery since 1822, its opulent rooms are filled with Golden Age masterpieces including ‘The Goldfinch’ (1654) by Carel Fabritius, Rembrandt’s ‘The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp’ (1632) and ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ (c.1665) by Vermeer. Following a two-year refurbishment, the Mauritshuis reopened in June 2014 with a new visual identity designed by Studio Dumbar.
Inspired by artists’ monograms, the new logo overlaps reproductions of key paintings to communicate a clear link between the Mauritshuis and its collection. Supported by a contemporary wordmark, the logo hints at the museum’s heritage while placing it in the 21st century. Golden Age paintings are known for their details: look closer and you’ll see more. We expressed this idea in the logo and a new photographic style: paintings are shown in context, through doorways. The core colour evokes royalty, the Golden Age and the house’s baroque interiors, while a brighter secondary palette echoes its famous damask wall coverings.
We applied the identity to a range of collateral including entrance tickets, invitations, ground plans, trams and flyers, as well as a new and comprehensive collection catalogue. We also created a new identity for The Friends of the Mauritshuis – a foundation that supports the museum with funding for new acquisitions and exhibitions.
Iphone and Ipad app designed and developed by Kiss the Frog.
Mash Graphic Identity
Mash Holdings is a Tokyo-based company, consisting of several fashion labels, health food restaurants, and organic make-up stores. In 2015, Mash contacted us, and asked us to design their graphic identity. Basically, we were asked to create an underlying visual language, for the in-house design team to work with. The deadline was extremely tight – the graphic identity had to be developed in less than two months. Mash was about to move into a new building, and the graphic identity had to be implemented right in time for the relocation.
The graphic identity we eventually developed for Mash was partly inspired by Metabolism, the Japanese architectural movement. In short, we came up with a graphic system consisting of arrows – arrows that were organized in several patterns. To us, these patterns represented some of the themes that were also widespread in Metabolist architecture – themes such as (organic) growth, modularity, movement and structuralism.
In the specific context of this project, these patterns also refer to the idea that all different parts of Mash are connected to one underlying structure. And no matter how conflicting or contrasting these separate particles appear to be – in the end they are still part of the same fabric.
We tried to evoke a graphic system in which each individual part represents the structure as a whole, while the structure as a whole represents each individual part. In that sense, the graphic identity can be seen as depicting a possible model of a company consisting of several smaller companies (or alternatively, as a diagram of an organization consisting of a certain number of employees).
Another reason for us to refer to Metabolism was the fact that Mash Holdings' new location happens to be a landmark building that was designed in the mid-'70s, by the modernist architect Togo Murano (1891–1984). And although Murano was never part of the Metabolist Group, the building certainly reflects some of the values of that particular era.
While developing the graphic identity, we executed some of the early applications (logo system, type design, various patterns, name cards, envelopes, exterior signage, etc.) ourselves, while all further implementations will be handled by the in-house design team of Mash Holdings.
We also designed a very minimal and compact graphic manual (shown above) – basically an A0-sized sheet, folded (in the manner of an architectural drawing) into an A4-sized booklet. In addition to this manual, we created a short animation movie (click image below), demonstrating some of the ideas behind the graphic identity.
As a final note, we'd like to thank everybody at Mash Holdings, and Masa Sugatsuke (of Gutenberg Orchestra).
What is Typography?
by Peter Biľak
What do we mean by the term typography? Before starting any discussion it is useful to clarify the terminology and definition of the word. This is a first from the regular columns that Peter Bilak writes for online version of the Swedish magazine CAP & Design.
Before starting any discussion or argument it is useful to define the terminology and to make sure that the words which are used are generally understood. Typography is a craft has been practiced since the Gutenberg’s invention of the movable type. According to the latest Encyclopedia Britannica core definition of typography is that ‘typography is concerned with the determination of the appearance of the printed page’. Other dictionaries, such as Collins English Dictionary from 2004 define the typography as ‘the art, craft or process of composing type and printing from it’. Understood this way, no typography was made before mid-15 century, as it is strictly linked to the invention of the printing type. Understood this way, digitally created letters that appear on an electronic screen also escapes this definition.
That is of course problem of definitions, which are not as flexible as the activities which they define. In the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague, where I teach part time, most useful definition of typography comes from the long term teacher Gerrit Noordzij, saying that ‘typography is writing with prefabricated letters’. Unlike the dictionary definitions, this one is deliberately avoiding connecting typography to any specific medium, as they tend to change, yet the discipline continues evolving. Noordzij’s definition also implies a complete distinction from lettering, handwriting or graffiti, which are also concerned with creating letter-shapes, but don’t offer a repeatable system of setting these letters.
Digital technologies stimulated unprecedented possibilities which blur even most open definitions of typography. If repetition of shapes was the central concept of typography, many designers are working in ways that challenge this concept. OpenType fonts can include random features, which can simulate unpredictable behavior of handwriting, or simply present seemingly incoherent library shapes.
For the past year, I’ve been working with dancers from Netherlands Dance Theatre in The Hague on creating a tool which translates text into simple choreographies. User types a word in a typesetting-like application which plays back this word as an uninterrupted dance sequence where dancer’s body temporarily makes positions recognizable as letters.
Is this typography? Project like this, as many others using existing digital possibilities seems not much worried about it, but use typographic principles to create autonomous work which cross boundaries of various disciplines. It seems that typography itself matured into a new creative discipline in which majority of typographers work in a way which is guided by historical understanding of the word, yet there is room for experimentation which explores the boundaries of the profession.
In other disciplines, such debate is in fact a sign of new self-consciousness. Novelist Milan Kundera argues that a contemporary novel is no longer defined as a fictional narrative in prose, but can include various forms of writing: poetry, short-story, or interview. Kundera’s books include parts which are philosophical, political, comical, while still being firmly part of a novel. The ability to absorb these various forms is Kundera’s definition of novel. Similarly, larger understanding of typography, which is no longer defined by technology, but evolves with it, may open this discipline to new create endeavors.
Type/Dynamics exhibition at the Stedelijk Museu...
Type/Dynamics exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
LUST has created a new interactive installation for the exhibition ‘Type/Dynamics’ at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. ‘Type/Dynamics’ interacts with and comments on the work of graphic designer Jurriaan Schrofer (1926–1990) in an effort to revitalize recent design history. The installation visualizes information that continuously surrounds us and is always accessible. By searching for real-time locations currently in the news, like "Ground Zero", "Reichstag”, or "Tiananmen square”, the installation can locate the panorama images from Google Streetview, abstract them into grids and fill the grids with new information. As a visitor to the space, you are literally 'transported’ to that location and surrounded by all the news associated with that specific location. Instead of a photographic representation, the place is represented purely typographically with a host of new items currently being talked about at that location. Nothing in the gallery space stands still; all information continuously moves.