Wolff Olins’ rotating logo for Leeum Museum of Art gets better the longer you look

Seeking to capture “the cyclical nature of time” as well as Leeum’s own architecture, the Wolff Olins refresh is cyclical and circular.

6 September 2022

Wolff Olins’ logo for Leeum Museum of Art, based in Seoul and run by the Samsung Foundation of Culture, is dynamic from the first viewing but gets even better with a second and third. With the agency called in to build a brand that could reflect the client’s position as an “open 21st-century museum of convergence – contributing to the creation of culture through communication”, Wolff Olins explains on the site, it opted for a fluid identity with an intriguingly energetic centrepiece.

The new Leeum logo, at first glance, looks like a half-crescent of flowing linework; in motion, it mimics a rolling tube, clock, or shifting beacon. Then, you notice the distorted type – reading Leeum – that makes up the shape, with each letterform adding to the hypnotic collision of lines present. For Wolff Olins, this addition reflects the “revolutionary, ever-changing nature of art,” and, like the museum, invites and encourages “visitors to interact and experience the art – not to be passive observers but active participants”.

The rotating form also nods to the shape of the Leeum’s Rotunda building. When looking down through Mario Botta’s circular design for the Rotunda at Leeum, the recognisable slits create a similarly mesmerising effect. Onlookers might have first caught a preliminary glimpse at the agency’s work for Leeum in October 2021, when the museum reopened after the global pandemic lockdown.

Since the museum opened its doors in 2004, it’s become a place “where people could see and discuss traditional, contemporary and international art all in one place”, the Wolff Olins case study explains. With such a range of styles housed at the museum, Wolff Olins states: “The design system supporting the new logo needed to be flexible enough to adapt to the broad nature of exhibits, artists and events that would be held in the museum – to adapt and respect the beauty of the past, as well as embrace the vision of the future.”

GalleryWolff Olins: Leeum Museum of Art (Copyright © Leeum Museum of Art, 2022)

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Wolff Olins: Leeum Museum of Art (Copyright © Leeum Museum of Art, 2022)

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Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.

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