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Jeremy Deller and Fraser Muggeridge create Utopia identity with rave smileys and a new alphabet

Artist Jeremy Deller and graphic designer Fraser Muggeridge have created the identity for Utopia 2016, a new year-long season Somerset House that marks 500 years since the publication of Thomas More’s text of the same name.

Deller and Muggeridge looked to More’s text and used the idea of the Utopian alphabet that he proposed as the basis of their typographic identity system. The letters were developed into a geometric typeface that is free to download; and they appear on various Utopia season touchpoints as yellow symbols on a bright pink backdrop.

“It’s a sort of alien language that we digitised, and drew as a geometric version,” says Muggeridge. “I knew about the [Thomas More] Utopian alphabet before we were appointed to this project – some things take a long time, but this one didn’t.”

As well as creating the visual identity and a flag bearing a rave-style smiley face icon, Deller and Muggeridge collaborated on a limited-edition book that sees the original Utopia text translated from English into Utopian, with accompanying images found on Google image searches relating to utopia, such as bands and clubs that have appropriated the word.

“The word utopia can have all sorts of meanings,” says Muggeridge. “The smiley could reference rave, acid house or even religious things. We wanted to make the flag look positive and familiar. It’s quite a ridiculous thing to have on the top of Somerset house”

In the treasury area of the Somerset House building, the team worked with architects Dyvik Kahlen to create a library and social hub, created to resemble a temple. At its heart is a vitrine filled with various objects. “Anything goes as long as its got utopia in its name,” says Muggeridge.

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Jeremy Deller and Fraser Muggeridge: Utopia 2016: A Year of Possibility and Imagination at Somerset House.

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Jeremy Deller and Fraser Muggeridge: Utopia 2016: A Year of Possibility and Imagination at Somerset House.

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Jeremy Deller and Fraser Muggeridge: Utopia 2016: A Year of Possibility and Imagination at Somerset House.

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Jeremy Deller and Fraser Muggeridge: Utopia 2016: A Year of Possibility and Imagination at Somerset House.

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Jeremy Deller and Fraser Muggeridge: Utopia 2016: A Year of Possibility and Imagination at Somerset House.