New York’s Cooper Hewitt Unveils New Identity by Pentagram
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum has revealed a new name and graphic identity, custom typeface and website to accompany the expansion of the museum, which will open to the public in November this year.
Designed by Pentagram’s Eddie Opara, the identity aims to establish a flexible branding system for the museum built around a new custom typeface, Cooper Hewitt, created by Chester Jenkins of Village.
Opara and his team say they have worked closely with Cooper Hewitt and Jenkins to develop the identity. Located in the historic Andrew Carnegie Mansion in New York, Cooper Hewitt is part of the Smithsonian Institution, the group of 19 museums and galleries administered by the U.S. government and popularly known as the “nation’s attic.”
The identity also exists as a new typeface that will be made available free to the public, who are being encouraged to utilise it in their own designs. The font has also been acquired for the museum’s permanent collection.
“We are spreading good design by making our elegant new typeface, Cooper Hewitt, available as a free download on cooperhewitt.org, as well as collecting it as an important example of the design process,” says Cooper Hewitt director Caroline Baumann.
Opara also helped develop the museum’s new name. Formerly the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, the new name replaces “National” with “Smithsonian” and eliminates the hyphen, simplifying the brand while emphasizing its heritage.
“Cooper Hewitt’s new identity plays it straight, with no play on visual or theoretical complexity, no puzzling contradiction or ambiguity, no distracting authorship,” says Opara. “Function is its primary goal, and ultimately the logo is important, but not as important as what the museum does.”
In some applications the new Cooper Hewitt wordmark will be accompanied by the signature “Smithsonian Design Museum,” which uses the Smithsonian’s existing identity, designed by Chermayeff and Geismar in 1997 and set in the contrasting serif typeface Minion Pro.