Principal signal a new era for university art museum The Gund with a timeless and type-led design
Located on the beautiful 1,000-acre wooded campus of Kenyon College, the Gund Gallery is a hub for contemporary and historical art, hosting a growing collection of works that span a range of mediums, narratives, and voices. It proudly presents a new brand identity – designed by Canadian strategy and design firm Principal – which includes the new name, ‘The Gund,’ a fresh brand mark, custom typography, and a dynamic graphic system. The rebranding follows the appointment of Director & Chief Curator Daisy Desrosiers, who envisions The Gund as a nexus of connection, critical learning, and collective imagination. By expanding the museum’s role within and beyond the campus, The Gund invites a deeper understanding of oneself and the society among Kenyon students and the broader community.
Partner & Creative Director Bryan-K. Lamonde reveals that the key influences of the new visual language were Kenyon College’s reputation as ‘The Writers' College,’ and the gallery’s architecture. “The notion of language quickly took on profound meaning in this project,” he tells us. “Not only is Kenyon College renowned for its writing and the famous Kenyon Review, but Daisy Desrosiers’ curatorial practice is also deeply interested in language.” For Lamonde’s team, the solution lay in typography. “At Principal, we often say that typography serves as a brand’s voice, conveying its narrative,” he notes. “Therefore, we built a system that revolves almost entirely around typography. Our objective was to select a blend of various classic typefaces with a distinctly American feel, such as Caslon Ionic by Commercial Type, or the monospace font we use for captions, by Dinamo.” A bespoke typeface, Gund Sans, was created to be friendly and welcoming, reflecting the museum’s commitment to fostering connections and conversations.
Lamonde also highlights the awe-inspiring and timeless nature of the architecture, which is echoed in the design of the brand’s wordmark. “The architect, Graham Gund, designed a faultless, structured building made of noble and durable materials,” he says. “Additionally, a very clear grid is prevalent both outside and inside the museum. Those lines became the foundation of the graphic system, creating space for exploration and structuring layouts in a distinct way.”
Although the identity primarily revolves around black and white – ensuring that the focus remains on the art – the brand also embraces a wide spectrum of colours to reflect the institution’s vitality and diversity. With a palette of 20 colours, Lamonde suggests that the brand’s expression can adapt and counterbalance the monochrome elements, preventing it from becoming too austere in its communications.
As a whole, the graphic system functions as a ‘design expression dimmer,’ allowing The Gund to modulate its visual language from quiet and sophisticated to dynamic and slightly eclectic, depending on the circumstances, ensuring that the focus remains on the artists’ work. “Often, it‘s necessary for the brand to fade into the background and let the artworks speak for themselves. In other situations, it’s the institution that speaks, needing to exhibit its vibrancy, its vitality, and adopt a more welcoming approach to engage a wider audience,” Lamonde concludes.