London arts venue Somerset House is set to reinvent itself later this week with a ‘unified’ umbrella identity by Neville Brody’s Research Studios.
Gwyn Miles, director of Somerset House Trust, appointed Brody’s design group last summer without a pitch, following previous work the consultancy had carried out for the venue’s summer programme. RS was tasked with ‘creating a unified voice’ for the venue, in a bid to integrate its various strands – public events, galleries, the courtyard and restaurants.
The logo is designed to resemble a portal, to highlight how the venue is a place in the capital where visitors can escape, and imitates the building’s unique rectangular outline as seen from an aerial perspective.
‘We are looking to make the trust and Somerset House itself look more contemporary and elegant, which is the reason for the change, and we wanted to show that we are interested in the modern world, not just the old world,’ says Miles.
In order to pull together the way the venue is recognised by the public, RS created the phrase ‘At Somerset House’, allowing the building to be branded in conjunction with each of its parts: The Courtauld Gallery At Somerset House, for example.
According to lead designer Nick Hard, the work aims to bring the elements together so that the venue stands as a cultural centre.
‘Somerset House is seen as a host, a location and portal where people can escape and experience something different from their normal lives. The visual identity takes on these ideas. The building is situated at a 24-degree angle, which is how we came up with the angle of the identity, along with a square shape to show it is a public space. The shape shows that the identity was about them, and nobody else,’ he says.
Typographical changes were made to add contrast, but also to allow flexibility within the brand. Additionally, the colour of the marque can be changed for each market. The identity will be applied to buildings, literature and the website.
A PLACE TO ESCAPE
• Somerset House is situated on the south side of The Strand, overlooking the River Thames
• It is a Neo-Classical building, the work of architect William Chambers, but was refurbished in 1685 by Christopher Wren
• The building houses a terrace, café, restaurant, shop, galleries and exhibitions, as well as an ice rink in the winter
• It was the main location for the BBC’s 2006 New Year Live show and stood in for Buckingham Palace in an episode of Spooks