Marina Willer and Brian Boylan create Serpentine Galleries branding
London’s Serpentine Galleries is launching a new identity, created by a team led by Pentagram partner Marina Willer and Wolff Olins chairman Brian Boylan.
The new identity comes with the opening of the new Zaha Hadid-designed Serpentine Sackler Gallery, which joins the original Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Park.
Boylan says he was approached to work on the project around two-and-a-half years ago, and took it on independently of Wolff Olins. He says that after an initial period looking at strategy, he then brought in Willer, who was then creative director at Wolff Olins.
Willer continued to work on the project after she joined Pentagram as partner last year.
Willer says, ‘In the beginning we were trying to understand their plans and their place in the world.’
She adds, ‘We were looking at how to leverage the gallery site, which is an amazing space, but we also wanted to take it beyond the physical space and create a unifying brand.’
Boylan says, ‘We insisted that it should be regarded as one Serpentine, rather than two galleries.’
The concept of ‘openness’ was a constant theme in the strategy development, according to Willer.
She says, ‘What’s unique about the Serpentine is that they are totally open – they are free to visit and situated in the park, among nature. They are also open in their approach to exhibiting – they’re not just about visual art but about performance, design and other things.’
The concept of openness is manifested in the identity through an aperture, which can open for different content and different ideas.
The aperture also acts as a bridge, echoing the Serpentine Bridge that links the two galleries.
Willer says, ‘The idea of the logo is that it can open out and kickstart things. It’s quite elastic and stretchy, we realised that what we absolutely shouldn’t do was create something authoritarian or dogmatic.’
Boylan adds, ‘The aperture is like and opening on to the landscape – you can make is as wide as you like or focus in and make it narrow.’
The aperture itself can be sited anywhere in the wordmark, but Willer says her team has created a number of breaks that the gallery can use initially.
She says, ‘We like it when it’s really stretched for example, but they were quite concerned about legibility.
‘It’s the same as with Tate [whose identity Willer and Boylan worked on in 1999], when they began they used a more conservative version, but as they got used to it they began to play with it a bit more.’
The logo’s typeface was created by Pentagram designer Ian Osborne and features ‘a combination of sharp and rounded corners… both challenging and approachable’.
Patrick Giasson created a typeface for the overall identity, which is described as ‘sharp and modern’.
Willer’s team also created a new identity for the new Magazine restaurant, located in the Hadid-designed building.
Willer says, ‘The identity is an attempt to capture the gesture of the building.’ The Magazine identity uses the same typeface as the overall Serpentine branding, to provide unity.
New Serpentine signage has been developed by Pentagram partner Daniel Weil. The shape of the signage reflects the aperture in the identity, while colours will change throughout the year to reflect the seasonal changes of colour in the park.