On the eve of our new website launch we asked Stefan Kraus, designer at Polimekanos to share some thinking on the re-branding of Arnolfini. Stefan has led on the visual identity along with his colleague Joseph Kohlmaier, the website build and functionality has been developed by Rui Guerra at INTK. Over to Stefan…
By the time we started to work on Arnolfini’s new identity, Bristol was already familiar territory for us. Two years before, in 2010, public art consultancy Situations commissioned us to develop the graphics for ‘Wonders of Weston’, a series of six new permanent public art works in Weston-super-Mare. We were asked to design a new identity for Situations shortly after that, and we developed a new website for Spike Island in 2012.
The iconic and somewhat awe-inspiring presence of Arnolfini in Bristol had already deeply embedded itself in my memory. One immediate thought was that it struck me as a stranded whale, housing artworks swallowed up once upon a time. Besides, I noticed that Bristolians do smile more than people in London..
Following a notion that artists Wrights & Sites had chosen for their project in Weston-super-Mare (‘Everything you need to build a town is here’), I was convinced that the gallery had everything I needed to make their new identity: a glorious past of exhibitions, an inspiring building and an archive full of wonderful printed material.
The literature and posters produced by Arnolfini during the 70s and early 80s were extremely well done and very appealing. I fell in love with the material we found at once, and it provided me with lots of inspiration. The journals, invites and posters used a bold, and at the same time genuine language. The typographical volume of the bold lettering made the word ‘Arnolfini’ look like an incarnated animal. I sensed in these artworks pure presence, a certain naiveness and positiveness – attributes that had faded over time and went missing.
After some initial design exercises it became clear very quickly that no additional symbol was needed, and that the way forward would be a bespoke typeface. Eurostile came to my mind, a font that always intrigued me for its visionary quality, its unmistakable simplicity, functionality and association with the idea of (cultural) cargo. It speaks a language that combines humble and yet distinct qualities. At the end, what happened was a marriage of the two, the old Arnolfini identity and the Eurostile font, a happy wedding of their forms and attributes.
Arnolfini’s new website is live, it is full of comment, video, imagary and upcoming events. It is also the place to find out about whats new in the bookshop, café bar and programme. It’s early days for the site, and we always want to hear what you think, so if you have any comments about the new site please email email@example.com or tweet us @ArnolfiniArts