Studio Atlant, the graphic design duo of Stefan Thorsteinsson and Cecilie Nellemann, has always been both together and separate in its practice.
They met years ago while studying in the same class at the Danish Design School, upon graduating both also interned at the same studio becoming gradually interested “in trying out a different kind of education than was being offered in Denmark at the time,” the studio tells It’s Nice That. The duo then moved to the US, studying an MFA at Yale School of Art before settling in New York for a year, Cecilie working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Stefan working for the designer, Neil Donnelly. Finally, in 2014, they moved back to Denmark and Studio Atlant was born. With a practice spread across identities, website, exhibition and publication design, Cecilie and Stefan have a wide range of skills to offer and in turn, have a breadth of clients that are both conceptual and commercial.
An example of the work inhabiting a physical space is Studio Atlant’s identity for Copenhagen Contemporary, an art centre in the city primarily exhibiting installation art. From the start the space the gallery would inhabit was never certain, leading to a design outlook that would fit in any location, a clever move as it has already moved from its initial home at Paper Island to Refshaleøen. The team behind the art space were keen for the gallery to be recognised by the abbreviation CC and consequently, “it was clear to us that we not only had to make a logotype but also design a symbol,” Studio Atlant explains. In designing the identity the studio first considered the way in which an audience interacts with a gallery space and so, “we took note of the fact that viewers of installation art usually aren’t standing still when looking at the art, but walking around and exploring art in the space.”
These considerations led to the Copenhagen Contemporary’s signage becoming a graphic beacon, particularly in its neon sign leading people in. “More than being classic art on the gallery walls, CC exhibits work that all somehow relates to the space that it’s situated in. As a simple move, we wanted the logo to be able to do the same and so the logo isn’t necessarily a fixed pair, but can also be split up and moved around individually.” Set in the typeface L15 by OrType, Studio Atlant’s use of the CC logotype differs across different ephemera. Sitting on top of each other, printed on alternate sides of paper, animated on banners and posters, or functioning on the website as an “extra navigation layer that moves with you as you scroll through the various pages, the configurations of the ’C’s always appear at random, never in predefined arrangements,” the studio points out.
Studio Atlant’s comprehensive but apt train of thought evident in Copenhagen Contemporary’s identity is noticeable across its other projects too. For instance, The FX Beauties a site designed for “a group of housewives who trade currency online,” an incredible project which sees the pair design a publication site where architect Christine Bjerke commissions journalists and architects to “write about topics surrounding the female trading community, such as digital and decentralised platforms, gendered environments and spaces within quiet networks”. Working with architects is a continuous practice for Cecilie and Stefan, also designing Adventures in Conceptualism, “a collection of interviews with leading architectural practitioners by the Danish philosopher Kristoffer Lindhardt Weiss.
Despite these broad-ranging projects which seemingly take a lot of thought and encyclopaedic knowledge of design across its many realms, Studio Atlant remains just Stefan and Cecilie. But, this obviously works for the pair in both the studio’s portfolio and frame of mind: “It’s just the two of us and we really enjoy having our hands in everything that comes through the studio.”
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