New York’s Cooper Hewitt launches new identity by Eddie Opara

The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York is set to launch a new identity as it prepares to reopen in a refurbished space at the end of the year.

The new identity has been created by Pentagram partner Eddie Opara and is based on the new Cooper Hewitt typeface, developed by Chester Jenkins of Village.

Opara says that each character in the new identity has been tailored to create a perfect rectangle identity, as, set normally, the words have different widths.

Opara says, ‘Cooper Hewitt’s new identity plays it straight, with no play on visual or theoretical complexity, no puzzling contradiction or ambiguity, no distracting authorship.

‘Function is its primary goal, and ultimately the logo is important, but not as important as what the museum does.’

Jenkins describes the new typeface as ‘a contemporary sans serif’. He says he was initially commissioned to evolve his Polaris typeface. ‘Instead of building on the Polaris structures,’ he says, ‘I drew everything from scratch, using the existing forms as a rough guide for letter-widths and master-stroke thicknesses.’

The typeface and development drawings have been donated to the museum’s permanent collection. The Cooper Hewitt typeface can also be downloaded for free here.

As part of the rebrand project, the museum has been renamed as Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, changing from Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.

The new identity is rolling out across a new Cooper Hewitt website, which has also been redesigned by Opara’s team.

The Cooper Hewitt is set to reopen on 12 December at its home in the Carnegie Mansion on New York’s Fifth Avenue.

The $91 million (£54 million) redesign, which the Cooper Hewitt says will boost its exhibition space by 60 per cent, has been led by Gluckman Mayner Architects and Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro has designed the exhibition space on the ground-, first- and second-floor galleries, as well as the new retail space.

DS+R also developed the new Cooper Hewitt interactive Pen, which will be given to visitors to allow them to ‘collect and create’ during their tour.

Cooper Hewitt says that as well as working as a digital drawing pen – on interactive tables – the tool will allow visitors to engage with works on view, rather than using their mobile devices. They will be able to collect and share images and exhibits online through the device.

Early prototypes of the Pen were based on the Sistel Networks vWand, an inventory control device used in healthcare. This was then developed by Sistel, working with Undercurrent and the Cooper Hewitt team, before GE’s industrial design team created a ‘sleeker’ version for museum use.

Pentagram’s Michael Gericke and his team are currently developing signage and wayfinding based on the new identity, to be introduced with the museum’s reopening.

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  • Matt - November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Is this the trend now…?

    Producing loads of visuals,video and a (bull****) rationale to justify an average (at best) logo?

    Is all of this ‘reinforcement’ handed out with every business card & letterhead – just incase?!

    ‘Cooper Hewitt’s new identity plays it straight, with no play on visual or theoretical complexity, no puzzling contradiction or ambiguity, no distracting authorship.’

    So to be clear, it’s just the type in black then…?

    ‘Function is its primary goal’

    That’s probably a good thing for a logo… isn’t it?

  • D Conran November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    ^ That’s Hilarious (Matt) – And Soo True! ^

    You can see them handing out a business card attached to a 200pg manifesto (with DVD) of course!!

    I like bold type led Identities like this, but funnily enough think the typeface lets it down!

  • Carla Trang November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    More total twaddle from Pentagram.

  • Jonathan Smith November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I would love to know how much Mr Opara was paid for this!

    I have written my share of rationales but this must be a classic!

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