Chris Chapman and co create an exciting typographic identity for the Institute of Contemporary Arts
Alongside a team of David Kolbusz, Rebecca Lewis and Beatriz Cóias, UK-based practitioner Chris Chapman has developed the vibrant, typographically extravagant and exciting identity for London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) – exploring its extensive cultural impact and three-quarter-century history. Subsequently reflecting and embracing this resolute legacy, ICA’s visual language is bold, playful and, ultimately, human; taking pride in the inclusive, artist-first platform and the progressive, alternative perspective it offers.
“The ICA is and has always been a progressive institution that brings together the different and new,” Chapman tells us, discussing the use of Dinamo’s ABC Maxi as the hero typeface and the Swiss type foundry’s collaboration on the project. “We tried to reflect this in the logo, bringing together different forms, not fully synthesising them,” he continues, having brought Dinamo on to craft a custom cut of the typeface. “Maxi felt like a great fit as it also has composite forms, rounded and angular,” Chapman adds, “however we knew that the font would have to work with a wide range of contexts, so we opted to standardise some characters,” notably including the ‘N,’ ‘M’ and ‘S’ letterforms, whilst allowing the rest of Maxi’s character set to flourish in variety and form. The result of Maxi’s custom cut, alongside its characterful, brazen application, is a self-aware identity that is innately confident in its aesthetic and cultural offering.
Chapman’s choice of colour reflects a similar eclecticism, having opted for vibrant, digital-first hues across digital and physical touchpoints. “The ICA had been using a colour palette that included standard RGB red, green and blue,” Chapman recalls, as well as a prominent grey tone. “Conceptually, I liked the colours as RGB represents a spectrum, and grey represents nuance,” he continues, further complementing the ‘pop’ they offer alongside artist imagery. “But the ICA works with so many different artists that a heavy-handed approach to colour is a bad idea,” Chapman concludes, “beyond this campaign, the distinctive logo and font is enough to link to the brand.”