New visual identity Reframing Designmuseum Danmark

Nikolina Olsen-Rule
Head of Communications

Illustration and graphics
Naur Klint

In 2011, the museum changed its name from the Kunstindustrimuseet, usually translated as the “Museum of Art and Design”, to Designmuseum Danmark. The public has responded positively – and we’re working to live up to the name with activities, research, educational programmes and sharper, research-based exhibits. Everything is directed at a wide, diverse and international audience. The change in name has created expectations of a visually strong, dynamic and modern brand as well as a digital upgrade. And these are expectations the museum wants to meet.

“We have wanted to upgrade our visuals for quite some time, as part of our overall development and rethinking of the museum. As part of our strategy to be among the world’s leading design museums and to continue to support Denmark as a design destination, we began a co-operation in 2016 with two strong partners: Urgent.Agency and Stupid Studio. They have helped us create a new visual identity and a new website. Through co-creation, and drawing on their own specialties, the two bureaus have developed a visual expression for the transformation and renewal that has been taking place for more than a decade,” said Museum Director Anne-Louise Sommer.

Over the past couple of years, the museum has built up a new organisation and a new strategy. The new visual identity and digital platform help make sure that the transformation is noticed, and that the museum can be seen as Denmark’s central design museum and as a knowledge center at the international level.

“We believe that our new visual, playful building blocks will support that,” the director says.

Treasured font from the archives
As a central part of the identity, the museum has worked with the heirs of the Danish architect and graphic designer Naur Klint. His font “Flexibility,” also called “Denmark’s first systematic writing,” was in the museum archives. It is now stepping out on the international scene as part of the Designmuseum’s new visual profile.

When we went and looked around in the museum archives, we found sketches and archive material about this neglected part of Danish font history, the Flexibility font drawn by Naur Klint. Naur’s father was the legendary furniture architect Kaare Klint, who is often called the father of the Designmuseum and of the Danish furniture tradition. It was with a great deal of respect and a little bit of awe that we suggested that the museum begin using the font,” explains adj. professor Mads Quistgaard, head of design at the Urgent Agency.

The museum began to digitalise parts of the font under the direction of Naur Klint’s son Lars Klint, MAA, an architect and professor. And that work meant that there was a significant shift in the museum’s visual profile that can be seen in the logo and identity.

My father Naur Klint drew Flexibility in the start of the 1960s for Danish car license plates, and some people will also recognise it from the signage at Herlev Hospital near Copenhagen. The font was created during a time of transition between the craft font tradition and the modern complete system fonts we know from fonts like Helvetica and Univers. It builds on the proud tradition and heritage of Knud V. Engelhardt and Bindesbøll, but also introduces an entirely new modernist approach with a system for all usage situations. That pliability fits the needs of Designmuseum Danmark well, which made it a clear win for us to work together,” he says.

Designmuseum Danmark’s Head of Communications, Nikolina Olsen-Rule, said the following about the font:

“Flexibility is not just the name of a font. It also describes the flexibility and recognisability we as a museum need across platforms. Flexibility is a fantastic marker of the museum’s identity we can use in other communications contexts, along with the simple, distinctive “D” logo, the color choice, and the unusual illustration style. The fact that the font has such significance in Danish font history and the museum’s history as well is a happy addition to the story of Danish design.”