Base Design’s identity for the Bob Dylan Center pays tribute to 20th-century Americana
With over 500 songs, 50 albums, and 110 million record sales to his name, Bob Dylan is a true once-in-a-generation artist and cultural icon. The affably-named, Olson Kundig-designed Bob Dylan Center is slated to open in Oklahoma’s Tulsa Arts District in 2021, not only as a permanent celebration of his worldwide cultural significance but as a place to study the Nobel Prize winners life’s work. Through an extraordinary archive of more than 100,000 possessions, manuscripts and recordings, which were primarily a secret until they were brought to Tulsa in 2016 by the George Kaiser Family Foundation, the Center will be the first destination to curate Dylan’s journey, art and genre-spanning sound credibly.
Tasked with creating a holistic brand experience for the Center ahead of its launch, international design studio Base Design sought to celebrate 20th-century Americana. With a particular focus on the 1960s protest posters that find themselves as relevant today as they were at the beginning of Dylan’s career, they created three bespoke typefaces that are genuinely unique to the Center. Derived from typical woodblock type, a striking condensed sans, Grandstand, leads the way alongside the distinctive serifs of Telegram, while Passenger provides a humanist function for body copy and captions.
“Our aim was to create an identity that’s flexible enough to allow for the presentation of content across a wide range of media to a broad audience,” Base Design explains, “with this in mind; we wanted to be less strict about how the typefaces are used. But rather, make sure we strike the right balance.” The logotype, through the fusion of Grandstand and Telegram, visually represents the familiar (Bob Dylan) and the new (the Center), while emphasising the importance of its location in Tulsa.
Base Design seamlessly incorporated an ink blue inspired by the handwritten annotations found in Dylan’s manuscripts, adding a contemporary, colourful flair to the typographic system. Through a multitude of thoughtful historical references, the identity system is fitting for an artist of Dylan’s global stature and provides a fluid rigour for the Center’s annual communications upon its opening and beyond.
Typefaces: Grandstand, Telegram and Passenger by Base Design