After two years of development, east London’s Geffrye Museum of the Home will reopen in Summer 2020 with a host of new spaces, a new exhibition programme and a new brand designed by London-based consultancy dn&co.
Among the most obvious of the changes earmarked for the museum is a new name – after over 100 years in operation, the organisation will be dropping its Sir Robert Geffrye namesake, instead moving forward as the Museum of the Home.
“Homes aren’t just houses”
According to Museum of the Home director Sonia Solicari, the move is indicative of a “refocused brand proposition,” which will see the space “rethink the many meanings of home,” beyond its previous offerings, in line with its new space designed by Wright & Wright Architects.
This repositioning of mission has in turn been used to inform the new identity created by dn&co, which got involved in the project via a competitive pitch in November 2018.
“The brief really revolved around looking into these quite difficult questions of what the museum’s bigger purpose is in society and what responsibility they have,” says Simon Yewdall, strategy director at dn&co.
According to Yewdall, central to the Museum’s new offering is the idea of the home as “a way of understanding each other, different perspectives and different conditions… in order to live better together.” Therefore, reflecting the organisation’s ambition was key to establishing the new identity.
Design director Gabriel Weichert echoes this, saying: “People often think that the home just refers to a house, and that was something we wanted to get away from.
“The home is an idea, and that can change. So the task was really how we could convey that through visual language – we aren’t talking about terraced houses, for example, because that’s not universally applicable.”
Inspired by light
At the heart of the new look is a custom typeface – Home Sans – which has been produced in collaboration with London-based typesetters Colophon Foundry. It has been inspired by light and shadow, according Weichert.
“Our inspiration of light really came from two key places – the first being that light has an incredibly important role in our homes,” he says. “You can create atmosphere with it and it has mental and physical importance.
“The second was how it could be used in our mission to rethink the home, which led us to create an identity that could, through a set of elements, reveal this new position.” Quite literally, throughout the wider graphic language the team has used “layers of shadow to reveal different kinds of content,” like typography, illustration and photography.
Meanwhile, a new colour palette has also been established, which takes direct inspiration from the physical building and environment itself. “The red is reflective of the brick, the greens of the gardens and the blues of the sky,” says Weichert.
Keeping things “homely” but future-facing
Throughout the project, the necessity of having to keep the museum “homely” wasn’t lost of the team, they say. “The museum is a beloved east London institution and it very much has its own devoted audience,” says Yewdall, “So right from the beginning we felt the responsibility to do it proud.”
Similarly, Weichert says: “The whole reason behind this new visual system is to make sure people still feel really at home at the museum.
“We really didn’t want to take away from the history and the heritage of it. In fact, really we wanted to strengthen that.”
The result is a visual identity that Weichert hopes positions the museum well for its future. “It was challenging to strike a balance between something practical and something exciting, but ultimately we believe we’ve found something that will grow as the museum does.”
Having completed work on the Museum of the Home’s brand strategy, name, positioning and identity, the team is now designing the museum’s wayfinding programme, ahead of its reopening in summer 2020.