Dating back to 1911, Helsingin kaupunginmuseo (Helsinki City Museum) is dedicated to the personal experiences and everyday life of people in Helsinki through a collection of approximately one million photographs and 450,000 items that range from a “Kiss-Kiss candy wrapper, a squeaky steel spring bed and a photo of a suburb home yard”. This past May, the museum moved to a new location in the Tori quarters, the oldest part of downtown Helsinki, and introduced a new identity designed by local firm Werklig and interiors by Kakadu.
The new logo by Werklig—capital H with a heart—captures the museum’s vision, everyone has the opportunity to fall in love with Helsinki. It also succeeds in focusing in the most important part; Helsinki and its residents.
The old logo… I’m not sure what was going on there with the line breaks. Perhaps highlighting “us”? The main problem is that it called too much attention to the wrong word, making it seem more important that this was a museum rather than a museum about the city of Helsinki. Also, those notches in the “m” and “u” feel totally gratuitous. The new logo is visually awkward with the heart as the crossbar of the “H” but there is something so rudimentary about its formula and execution that makes it unavoidably, almost annoyingly, charming.
Identity was built on real historical fragments from Helsinki. […] Old everyday print material from museum collections (tram tickets, brochures, newspapers, wrappers, adverts) were used as a base for visual narrative. Visuality was then further transformed into a set of custom typefaces and colors that have a true and authentic connection to Helsinki and life in the city.
The custom fonts for the identity are an eclectic mix that in theory shouldn’t work together but like any good Finnish design project, the weirdness is perfectly calibrated to look like everything makes perfect sense, from the mixing and matching of fonts within words to the pastel colors.
In application on the museum itself, the typography is sharp and bold — literally and metaphorically — and the variations in size and style complement the funky interiors and exhibits. One thing that is interesting is how unrelenting the museum has been in emblazoning as many things as possible with the “H”… and I realize this is their logo and that’s the job of a logo but here it’s like there are extra servings of the logo in every corner, which is a great way of clearly establishing the new logo. Overall, the identity comes across as playful and full of personality in a way that feels appropriate to Helsinki.