Flexible frame creates sustainable design system for picture perfect institution


    Bildmuseet is a part of the arts campus at Umeå University. It is a centre for contemporary art and visual culture as well as a place for experiences, reflection and discussion. The museum exhibits contemporary international art, photography, architecture and design, alongside art historic retrospectives. Since its opening in 2012 Bildmuseet houses an acclaimed building by the shores of the Ume River. The building, designed by Henning Larsen Architects in collaboration with White, has been named one of the world’s most beautiful university museums.


    Bildmuseet tasked SDL to create an identity that mirrors the museums ambition and vision; to become one of most renowned performers on the contemporary university art arena – both domestically and internationally. The museum asked for an identity that would reflect Bildmuseet as an inspiring, eager and collaborative art institution, where art and science meet. It should invite and inspire. And since all communication and printed material was to be produced in-house at the Umeå university (sometimes only with a b/w laserjet printer), the demands on a flexible identity and graphic toolbox were crucial.


    We decided to see the technical restrictions as design possibilities, and optimised them into a distinct and ownable visual expression – where the typographic system played a central role. The mix between the generic, monospaced typeface, a limited colour palette and striking photography extracted from each exhibition created a bold and highly recognisable visual identity, full of interesting contrasts – both visual and intellectual.


    The identity successfully frames the tremendous work exhibited in the museum without taking attention away from the art or the building. The new graphic toolbox has  helped the in-house department to produce high quality communication material with little means and little effort. Bildmuseet has since it opened got well-deserved attention in media, both in Sweden and internationally, and nominated to both Swedish Museum of the Year Award and European Museum of the Year Award.