Established in 1973, Listasafn Reykjavíkur (Reykjavik Art Museum) is the largest visual art institution in Iceland and has the largest Icelandic art collection. The museum operates three locations: The titular Listasafn Reykjavíkur (Reykjavik Art Museum) that focuses on contemporary art Museum located in what’s called Hafnarhús (Harbor house), a modern art museum located at Kjarvalsstaðir, and a sculpture museum dedicated to the late Ásmundur Sveinsson, housed in Ásmundarsafn. The museum recently changed directors and faced with the problem that locals and the increasing amount of tourists did not realize the three museums were part of the same institution, Listasafn Reykjavíkur has introduced a new identity designed by karlssonwilker inc.
The appointment of Ólöf Kristín Sigurdardóttir as the Reykjavik’s Art Museum new director marked the onset of improving the general perception of the institutional connection between the three different museums and locations, and engaging more with both local and international audiences. […] Karlsson, with Art Director Sandra hizuka, studio partner Jan Wilker and their team worked on designing a visual system that could provide the museum with the visual tools to express its diversity in programming and to show the general public the connection between the three houses.
karlssonwilker provided press release
I’m not sure what the old logo was meant to represent, maybe an architectural detail of one of the buildings, so we will not dwell much on it as the logo doesn’t seem to have any major ambitions. The new logo is fucking crazy! I do my best to write my reviews using proper language but every now and then no amount of classiness can convey the right feeling. Objectively, the triangular shape represents the bird’s eye view of the relative location of the three buildings with the top facet of the shape spelling out the institution’s name in both Icelandic and English by sharing “Reykjavik” and then splitting each language into Light and Regular weights. On the “walls” of the triangle are the names of the three locations and the logo can be rotated in 3D so that emphasis can be placed on each while always reading the full name of the institution.
The logo is typeset in Suisse and is as non-formatted as possible. It’s a weird oxymoron of a complex logo executed very simply. While my instant reaction was to recoil — like when you take a first whiff of a Stilton cheese — I really like this logo. It’s a completely novel way of solving the problem of showcasing three locations as one and, as weird as it is, it looks perfectly at home (and at home and at home) in Reykjavik.
The applications are very karlssonwilker-esque, with the awkward repetitions and type arrangements that makes you want to shake the layouts like an Etch A Sketch and reset them but, where this approach felt out of place in another recent karlssonwilker project for Remai Modern, here it’s perfectly suited and done with much more bravado and perceivable freedom. The logo patterns are full of energy and yield some unexpectedly stunning backdrops while pastel gradients add a touch of exotic-ness that one could expect from Reykjavik. Overall, I really like this, against all odds, mostly because it’s so whack and we’ve been seeing so much un-whack stuff that it’s nice to get a jolt, even if it’s somewhat uncomfortable.