Studio Thonik’s slanted art museum identity mirrors the institution’s architecture

The graphic system for the Almaty museum features a core colour palette that draws on the hues of the city’s autumn months.

25 April 2024

The architecture of the new Almaty Museum of Arts in Kazakhstan is recognisable for one thing in particular: its slanted walls. One of the slanted walls faces the city of Almaty, while the other faces the Alatu mountain range. It’s this duality that sits at the centre of Studio Thonik’s new identity for the museum. In the dynamic logo system, two capital A’s playfully interact bouncing side to side in unison, sliding together across various assets, playfully interacting and creating a simple yet thoughtful brand that keeps the unique aspects of the institution front and centre.

While motion plays an important role in the project, the initial ideas were in fact sparked by the still image of the two A’s pointing in different directions – this is an interesting approach for the Amsterdam-based studio which usually begins every project with motion design before then extracting stills from it. “In this case, the dynamic nature of the slanted A’s within the logo inspired us to explore motion as a logical extension of the stationary design”, says Roy Terhorst, a partner at Thonik.

Initially, the team experimented with a more avant-garde style for the A’s, but it “lacked individuality”, says Roy. But, serendipitously, at the time of designing Studio Feixen released a font that allowed glyphs to have slanted alternates, providing the perfect solution. Thonik then opted for a modern letterform as the secondary type, PangramPangram’s Neue Montreal, which fulfilled the project’s linguistic requirements, accommodating Cyrillic, Russian, and Latin characters.


Studio Thonik: Almaty Museum of Arts (Copyright © Studio Thonik, 2024)

When it came to the central colour palette, Thonik delved further into the surrounding environment of the museum. Specifically, the “vibrant hues of autumn in Almaty”, says Thonik partner Thomas Widdershoven, achieved with a basic set of four shades of yellow, paired strikingly with black or white typography.

A secondary, ever-changing colour palette is drawn from the museum’s artworks, and is set to transform with every new exhibition. “This dynamic colour set allows for versatility in communication while maintaining a strong visual connection to the museum’s collection,” says Thomas. “The use of solid colour areas not only enhances visual appeal but also serves to highlight artist titles and bring attention to specific elements within communication materials.” The grid for these moments of block colour follows the same “logic” as the logo, ensuring cohesion across communication materials.

One of the main aims of the identity is to create something that exists beyond the physical space of the gallery, reaching a broader audience. “While the gallery space offers a unique encounter with artworks, our communication materials enable everyone to engage with and appreciate the art, regardless of location,” says Roy. “Ultimately, our design seeks to promote visits to the Almaty Museum of Art while enriching the public's appreciation for art and culture.”

GalleryStudio Thonik: Almaty Museum of Arts (Copyright © Studio Thonik, 2024)

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Studio Thonik: Almaty Museum of Arts (Copyright © Studio Thonik, 2024)

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About the Author

Olivia Hingley

Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English Literature and History, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.

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