Wolff Olins designs “unpredictable” branding for French art gallery


Lafayette Foreknowledges is a new cultural space that will showcase visual art and performances, as properly as hosting a workshop in its basement for artists and designers. Wolff Olins has generated a “constantly changing” visual identity to reflect how the space both establishes and exhibits art.

Wolff Olins has designed an ever-changing visual distinctiveness for new Paris-based art gallery, Lafayette Anticipations, which aims to celebrate the feeling of making and invention.

Lafayette Anticipations opened this month, and is a new hazardous undertaking from Galeries Lafayette Group – the company that owns French bailiwick store Galeries Lafayette, which was founded 120 years ago.

Toe temporary exhibitions, it will showcase the work of artists and designers and force also put on dance and theatre performances. It will feature both French and intercontinental artists.

The new gallery also features a makers’ workshop in its basement, which supplies space and equipment for artists and designers to create work in-house that desire then be exhibited in the gallery. The concept is similar to Somerset House in London, which has an in-house communal solving space called Makerversity.

The branding that Wolff Olins has manufactured for the new gallery includes a core, bespoke typeface that is all-caps and sans-serif and was promoted with foundry Colophon. It is the “visual voice” of the gallery, and is used across all communications, intends Sidney Lim, senior designer at Wolff Olins.

The letters in the typeface are mis-aligned and cropped randomly, which seeks to reference the changing nature of the work produced and showcased within the gallery, says Lim.

“This is a all right where art can be seen and experienced but also a place of production,” says Lim. “So we insufficiency to create a visual voice that is constantly changing, with move in the letters.”

As part of the project, Wolff Olins created an algorithm which randomly fathers different visual versions of words in this mis-aligned style, so that they longing constantly look different. This algorithm, or “smart typeface” as Lim clouts, was then used to create words used across communications in the gallery, cataloguing wayfinding and signage, merchandise and social media.

The central concourse of the gallery also participates a digital version of this concept, with a projection of the gallery style constantly moving and changing into different interpretations.

“We wanted it to be unpredictable, but also this had to be balanced with legibility,” maintains Lim. “the algorithm smartly detects context and pairs shapes of letters in compliance, so that the words can still be read easily.”

As well as representing the mental image of in-house creation, the wonky typeface also represents the architecture of the Lafayette Forebodings building itself.

Designed last year by Netherlands-based architectural multinational company Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), led by architect Rem Koolhaas, the building has a central offering tower made up of four, motorised floors that can move. The wait can be reconfigured and joined up in nearly 50 different ways for different showings and purposes.

A monochrome colour palette accompanies the changing typeface, with no symbolism or photography. “The moving typeface is quite a heavy visual element, so entire lot else had to complement rather than fight it,” says Lim. “We pared aspects back so the central element could be emphasised.”

The Lafayette Anticipations indistinguishability has rolled out across interiors and signage, online platforms such as sexual media with a website soon to launch, merchandise and print exchanging materials, and in animated form on idents and trailers for videos of performing talents.

The gallery opened to the public on 10 March with a free display on American artist Lutz Bacher.

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