Responses by Podpunkt.
Background: The new identity of the National Museum in Kraków (MNK) unifies the museum and its twelve branches under one consistent brand. Due to the institution’s size, the diversity of the collection and the various locations of different branches, the visual identity needed to help visitors find their way to and around the museum.
Design thinking: The identity is an extensive visual language that enables many forms of communication from the elaborate and artistic to the functional and straightforward. We selected a color range to fit the needs of the museum’s vast collection and branches: the central color is a vibrant red complemented by a rich aubergine. A DNA-like thread forms the central metaphor of the logo and identity, with the shape serving as a vehicle for artwork and providing the base for an elegant, geometric icon set that feels intuitive and simple to read. The identity includes a striking, original illustration style that complements the artwork displayed during exhibitions; these can adorn anything from T-shirts to posters and provide a contemporary, fun way to show art. The visual language fuses the museum’s symbol and its art into one form. Thanks to the symbol’s timeless geometry, it interweaves seamlessly with medieval paintings and contemporary abstract sculpture alike.
We based the identity’s typographic system on SangBleu by foundry Swiss Typefaces. Sangbleu’s letterforms are at once classic and modern, having the elegance and finesse to fulfill all the identity’s different needs.
Challenges: The museum has twelve branches, each in a different location, with their own collections and unique ambience. Our task was to bring them all under one banner, but in a way that would not alienate the branch employees and would help visitors understand the character and offering of each branch. It was a challenge to find a visual language that would fit every different style and complement a range of artwork from antiquity to modern times.
One problem we encountered during our workshop and strategy phase was the complicated and inconsistent names of the museum’s branches. In cooperation with the museum, we introduced a new system of short, memorable names for the branches and connected them to the main MNK brand.
Favorite details: We are very proud of the way that the flexible serifs—branch icons—form the basis for distinct, beautiful patterns and illustrations. At the same time, they serve a functional role of identifying the museum’s different locations. They are a product of workshops and consultations with each branch—a process that we are also proud of and helped us understand the nature and needs of each branch, which resulted in a range of diverse symbols—a beautiful visual metaphor for the diversity of the museum itself.
Visual influences: The final solution is a product of not only time constraints but also constraints of scope and budget. We created the basis of a system of layouts, prints, illustrations, products and signage, but real life—in the form of new content, inspiration and artwork—will test these ground rules and probably expand the system in many creative ways. This is especially true of the wayfinding and signage system: it is only in a very basic form right now and will need to be continued as a vital, unifying element of the new brand.
Specific project demands: From the start, we worked in a process that involved the museum. We started off with workshops and meetings with the key stakeholders. During the design phase, we conducted consultations with the branches and presented the design to a wide audience of museum employees, both at the start of the design phase and the end of the project. This kind of process is more time consuming, needs workshops and presentation skills, and may sometimes complicate the timeline and progress of the design. However, at the end of the day, it was beneficial to our cooperation with the museum and to the final design.