Bleed’s juxtaposing identity for Historisk Museum balances the traditional with the contemporary
First opened in 1904, the University of Oslo’s Historisk Museum is home to Norway’s most substantial collection of historical ethnographic artefacts, contextualising the country’s remarkable history with its contemporary culture. Tasked with developing the museum’s identity, Oslo and Vienna-based design studio Bleed turned to the building itself for inspiration, beguiled by the variety of monograms created for and adorned across the museum by its architects.
The resulting monogram, much like the museum’s approach to its own archives, takes what came before and cements it in the modern-day, combining a calligraphic finesse with pragmatic contemporary sensibilities to craft a stoic mark that exhibits the true promise of what it represents. “The monogram became an integral part of the process,” Bleed’s Halvor Nordrum tells us, “as we neither wanted nor could, remove it from the architecture,” instead opting to double-down on the history behind it.
In contrast, however, the palette used throughout the identity acts as a vibrant counterpart to the lack of colour found across the museum’s site. “Even though the building is a really interesting piece of Art Noveau architecture,” Nordrum notes, “it has lacked to be noticed in the public eye,” with the majority of the interviewees questioned in the brand strategy being unaware of where the building was even located. “To make the museum more visible, we deliberately chose colours that contrasted the facade,” he adds, making the museum and the experiences within it both more eye-catching and friendlier. “The colours also serve to make the playground of the monogram more contemporary,” Nordrum adds, “the whole identity is all an exercise in balancing the traditional with the contemporary.”
With this in mind, Bleed opted for Dinamo’s ABC Diatype as the primary typeface, utilising its modern concept and construction to convey the museum’s role as a contemporary storyteller, whilst providing a powerful contrast with its corresponding monogram. “We wanted to let the monogram live in a juxtaposed minimalistic, yet playful, environment,” Nordrum explains, “a space where it could really be the star of the party,” he concludes, “it doesn’t steal attention, but rather adds details and distinctiveness.”