One of east London’s hidden gems, the Geffrye Museum in Hoxton, today unveils a visual identity overhaul to match its £18.1 million redevelopment, and a new name. Now simply called the Museum of the Home, the institution will reopen in summer 2020 with a renewed focus exploring not only historical but also contemporary visions of the idea of home. In turn, dn&co’s rebrand takes inspiration from something at the heart of homes old and new – light.
At the centre of the identity is a custom typeface developed by the agency together with Colophon Foundry, called Home Sans. Its letterforms are created from the angular shadows cast by a direct source of light, and its variable function allows the typeface to take the shape of long, dramatic shadows or shorter, sharper ones, depending on the application.
“The typeface reflects the purpose of the museum – to reveal and rethink the ways we live, in order to live better together,” explains design director Gabriel Weichert. “We started by exploring how our idea of home is and has always been defined by light: from the fire in the cave to the fires in our homes today, from reading by candlelight or cooking on the hearth, to the flickering illumination of the TV.
“Lighting in our homes often comes from a clear source,” he continues, “a reading lamp or daylight through a window. We thought about the Museum itself as a source of illumination, a place that shines a light on how we live and we wanted to reflect that in the identity by using light that comes from that source.”
Its inherent flexibility allows for “different expressions and tones of voice,” Weichert says. “It can be bolder and stronger when asking challenging questions or broadcasting news for example, or we can use lighter more delicate versions when talking to partners and collaborators – that is, at times when the Museum is just one of the voices in the room and doesn’t need to shout. This variety gives a powerful dynamism to communications and the potential for change over time which keeps the identity fresh.”
The light source manifests in other aspects of the identity too, for example in illustration and photography, where the design uses light to “create focus, draw the eye or bring a subject to the fore,” says creative director Patrick Eley. “Just as with the typeface, the visual identity had to speak to different audiences, sometimes with very varied styles. In that context, the use of light and shadow gives us flexibility and harmony, while conveying a unique, coherent brand expression.”
All this is based on a system of diagonal layers, pulled together with a colour palette that also draws from the museum. The core colours are “brick red, sky blue and garden green” – all present in the museum’s almshouses and gardens. A pared-back secondary palette of off-white and tints complements the bolder focal colours.
Dn&co are currently working on the museum’s wayfinding system, ready for the opening next summer. The new and improved galleries will include a new permanent exhibition space, the Home Galleries, which has 50% more space for its collection exploring home life over the past 400 years. The redevelopment, undertaken by Wright and Wright Architects, will also open up spaces previously unseen by the public.
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