Opening later this month, Centro Botín is a new art center in Santander, a city in the North of Spain. Designed by Renzo Piano on a 100,000-square-foot area, the center consists of two buildings, one dedicated to exhibitions and gallery space, the other to events and educational programs that, together, offer over 25,000 square feet of exhibit space, a 300-seat auditorium, classrooms, work spaces, and a cafe. The center’s exhibits will focus on local and international contemporary art and serve as the headquarters of Fundación Botín, an organization devoted to the cultural, social, and economic development of the region. The new identity for Centro Botín has been designed by the Madrid, Spain, office of 2x4.
The client wanted to reference the new building built by Renzo Piano but also communicated its dynamic future programming that brought together both Education and Fine arts for international and local audiences.
Rather than literally reinterpret the building we sought to emphasize the two volumes of the building, the two parts of the program Education/Arts and also the two types of audiences for the Centre International/Local. All unified by the word Botín.
2x4 provided text
Despite being three basic lines of text, typeset in unassuming Trade Gothic, the new logo holds more interest than other logos that try much harder. The logo places focus on the center’s (and well-known family’s) name, BOTÍN, sandwiched between the Spanish and English/French versions that describe what it is. The tight crop gives the sense of there being more to the logo than what’s first visible and it instantly conveys its international breadth and scope. It’s a simple logo and, while it follows the black-and-white trend of contemporary art institutions, it stands out nicely from the pack. Also, major bonus points for not doing a visual rendition of the building, which is a trap many clients set for themselves when they love their starchitect-designed building a little too much and want it represented every which way. The sub-brand logos work great by placing emphasis on the subject with the underlines while maintaining the same font size as the logo.
The institutional applications are okay… somehow they don’t quite translate the impact of the logo and I think part of it is that it’s not clear what the behavior of the logo should be: edge to edge no matter what or always at least one edge bleeding off or no edges bleeding off with a margin over the logo. It’s still all effective but there is some inconsistency when looking at it all together.
For audience-facing materials and ads, the system relies on the same two thick underlines as in the sub-brands to establish a visual language with everything typeset in uppercase Trade Gothic. Somehow this should all be much cooler — and to a degree it is — but there is some refinement (or actually, the opposite, maybe some crudeness/roughness) missing from the layouts. It’s as if it wants to be bold and edgy but then it got shy. As seen in the tote bag, the identity introduces a pattern that echoes the surface of the building that’s made up of 270,000 ceramic discs and it feels like too little, too late. Maybe this was something that could have been played up in the identity and integrated more into all the layouts, rather than just a standard pattern. Overall, though, it’s a confident, contemporary identity with solid thinking of how it pairs with the building and the organization without being literal.