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Playlist: Museum identity and exhibition fonts

Playlist shared by: Production Type Team
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In this playlist, we have gathered fonts for museums identities, and exhibitions. These fonts bear a given topic's mood and style. In signage applications, they usually ensure readability and accessibility. Visitors of all ages and backgrounds can access, and engage fully with the exhibits and informational contents.

  • The “Mobilier national” is a French institution whose roots can be traced back to 1604 and the reign of King Henri IV. At the time of its founding, the task of the “Garde-Meuble royal” was to produce and to repair furniture and other items such as tapestry in order to equip the royal castles.The duties of today’s Mobilier national are not far from this. It holds more than 200,000 pieces that it lends to official establishments like the presidential Élysée Palace or French embassies across the world. It furthermore runs several workshops that constantly repair and conserve the holdings and also create new objects. Accordingly, Mobilier national has a stake in the education of new generations of designers and craftsmen who will take on the task in the future.Since 2019 the Mobilier national organizes a yearly design competition in collaboration with selected institutes of higher education. Each year the “Prix Mobilier National – Jeune Création” sets a different topic to solve and thereby addresses different disciplines. In 2020 the students were called to design, among other things, a new conference table for the council of ministers that occurs every Wednesday at Élysée Palace.The pictures in this post show promotional material around the exhibition of the results and the award ceremony that took place in the framework of Paris Design Week at the Galerie des Gobelins. The typefaces used here are Mars and, in small quantities, Cardinal, both published by Production Type in 2018. Designed by Alaric Garnier, Mars is a sturdy sans-serif available in only one weight but three extremely different widths – condensed, standard and extended – of which each brings its own flavor. In the media shown here you see the extended version. The seriffed Cardinal, on the other hand, is characterized by an abundance of variants. The collection provides five basic styles: Fruit (condensed), Photo (semibold and tight spacing), and three versions of Cardinal Classic, with short, medium, and long ascenders and descenders. The style use for Mobilier du XXIème Siècle is Cardinal Short Italic.
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    Cardinal Classic Long SemiBold

    Mobilier du XXIème Siècle
  • The Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac is an arts and ethnology museum in Paris. In 2019, it changed its identity, and chose Guénola Six as new artistic director.The identity designed by Guénola Six relies upon the idea of the exhibition as an experience for the visitor: in order to render this aspect, the identity emphasizes objects of the collections, putting them into a narration by the way these objects interact with their background and with the text. In this perspective, titles set in Production Type’s Gothic Lab play a huge part in defining the imaginary of the exhibition. Indeed, the diversity of patterns that compose the typeface family, inspired by shapes found in nature and, more specifically, in animals, brings us back to the organic textures of objects created by primitive or tribal societies. Gothic Lab is available in various styles named Croco, Elephant, Gecko, Mantis, Snake, and Tigre. Each letter becomes an object in itself, as the pattern follows and adapts to the shape of it: the heavy programming work that permitted the design of the font, supported by Ivan Murit’s thesis work on Alan Turing and stochastic rasters, is the key behind the fine adequacy of the pattern.Even though the cultural influence of this museum calls for a stable corporate identity, Guénola Six managed to add a special touch through the daring use of Gothic Lab, telling us stories from other times and other societies.Gothic Lab is combined with Parisine. The museum’s logo is based on FF DIN.
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    Gothic Lab Snake Regular

    Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac
  • At the end of August 2020, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York launched an exhibition of Jacob Lawrence entitled The American Struggle. This name refers to the series of paintings Lawrence made in the 1950s called Struggle: From the History of the American People: His aim was to represent the struggles of people to create a nation and to build democracy, beginning from European colonization until World War I. In the end, he completed thirty panels representing historical moments from 1775 through 1817.The importance of showing Lawrence’s work resides in the inclusivity present in his paintings: the painter puts effort in showing women and people of color in his historical representations, changing therefore the usual national historical discourse. Painted in a period dominated by the Cold War and McCarthy’s communist hunt, these paintings also resonate with the Civil Rights movement, and actions they made such as the desegregation of schools. A reflexion on this particular context, Lawrence’s work is still relevant today in regard of the recent calls for racial justice, and questions about what makes a national identity.Such a body of work doesn’t need much for an exhibition's identity. Therefore, the identity consists in the sober use of a dark blue color, paired with Media Sans from Production Type for titles and Guardian Egyptian Text from Commercial Type for text, due to its great readability. Media Sans Semi Condensed grabs attention, although its use in a regular weight keeps a subtlety that the punchy bolder versions put aside. The density of the lowercase letters with their huge x-height and tight spacing mirror the density of colors and shapes in Jacob Lawrence’s paintings, where even the sea looks architectural. Besides, the impactful design of Media Sans, the retail version of Libé Sans, designed for the French newspaper Libération, can also evoke the evidence of the artist’s paintings and their inherent political scope.
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    Media Sans Condensed Regular

    Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle at The Met
  • The Festival international de la bande dessinée d’Angoulême, held yearly since 1974 in the French city of Angoulême, is the second largest comics festival in Europe. During the 49th edition in 2022, it honored French graphic novelist Aude Picault with a monographic solo exhibition.Born in 1976, Aude Picault graduated from the École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs (ENSAD) of Paris in 2005. That same year she published her first book, Moi je, and soon after she obtained a weekly cartoon in Voici, a popular French magazine. In the following years Picault conquered a large field of work, from comics for kids to erotic novels for adults. Nothing is safe from her curiosity and drawing nib.The exhibition Sous la plume d’Aude Picault (“Under the Nib of Aude Picault”) was curated by Sonia Déchamps and Augustin Arrivé, the scenography is by Marie Corbin who worked with graphic designer Benoît Cannaferina. The typography inside the exhibition was composed from three elements: title letterings of the original publications, Aude Picault’s personal handwriting, and the typeface Enduro, designed by Emmanuel Besse and published by Production Type.Enduro is an industrial Grotesk and a somewhat quirky family: while it comes in seven weights, it only comes in three widths, condensed, narrow and regular. The steps between the widths are so significant that each of them changes in character, allowing the graphic designer to play on different flavors within a coherent system.
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    Enduro Black

    Sous la plume d’Aude Picault exhibition
  • The relation of content and form might be the number one topic in every discourse about graphic design. The visuals presented in this post provide a very interesting example in this regard.

    Jacques Rougerie, born 1945, is a French architect mainly known for his interest in hostile habitats such as the outer space and the deep sea. Inspired by adventure novels like Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas and by the groundbreaking diving explorations of Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Rougerie began to conceive underwater architecture in 1973. Under the title Jacques Rougerie – Living with the sea, the Villa Noailles dedicates a comprehensive exhibition to this pioneer architect. The venue is located in the city of Hyères on the French Mediterranean coast and thereby within a stone’s throw of some of the sites where Rougerie realized aquatic projects.

    The advertising materials to promote the show build upon drawings, computer renderings, and architectural models that tell a story of technical advance as much as a history of science fiction visualization. Rougerie’s formal language evidently is inspired by nature itself. It’s in this aspect that the typographic choice is so interesting: the main display type used here is Gothic Lab, designed in collaboration between Production Type and Ivan Murit, a specialist in generative design.

    Gothic Lab is based on the condensed, monolinear skeleton of Antique Gothic that – coincidentally – shows similarities to the sans-serif used on the title to Jules Verne’s seminal novel around the Nautilus and to the frontispiece with regards to the way in which the stems of the letters are brought to life through special effects. Gothic Lab comes with five different “skins”, patterns inspired by nature and size-specifically generated: Elephant, Croco, Snake, Mantis and Gecko, the latter used here in the LD variant with has less detailing than the HD style.

    To draw a conclusion on content and form, both the images and the predominant typeface stem from an exploration of natural forms. As a result, there’s a great feeling of convergence without one part merely mimicking the other.

    The other typefaces that complement the main act are Kreuz and Enduro, both by Emmanuel Besse and likewise available from Production Type, and Pangram Pangram’s Agrandir, used to typeset the logo of Villa Noailles.
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    Gothic Lab Gecko LD + Kreuz Extended Regular + Enduro Regular

    Jacques Rougerie – Habiter avec la mer exhibition
  • Study For No is the title of Issy Wood’s first solo exhibition in France. The show by the up-and-coming painter from London is on display at Lafayette Anticipations in Paris until January 7, 2024:

    Borrowing its title from a 2019 painting, it explores the potential of refusal, discussing and resisting orders which secretly weave their way into our daily lives. Building through seduction, humor and cynicism, her work is marked by the recurrence of serialized motifs: hypersexualized glossy leather jackets, gleaming car interiors, immaculate porcelain sets, representations of animals, female figures, and self-portraits —all counting as sites where our ways of being are played out.

    Curator Rebecca Lamarche-Vadel commissioned Pierre Vanni with the visual identity of the exhibition. Among the items designed by Vanni are the exhibition poster, subway ads, and a bilingual booklet. The selected artwork is an unnerving one, certainly for those of us who are dreading our next dentist’s appointment. It’s titled Study for Wednesday (oil on linen, 2022; © Issy Wood, courtesy the artist; Carlos/Ishikawa, London; and Michael Werner, New York. Photographer: Stephen James).

    There are two title typefaces used throughout the applications: Kessler is Alaric Garnier’s contemporary take on inscriptional serifs, released with Production Type. Englische Schreibschrift is a classic Anglaise with not-quite-joining letters. It was made in-house at Berthold in the 1970s, under the supervision of Günter Gerhard Lange. All text is shown in silver, echoing the shiny metal of the dental drill.

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    Kessler Super Display Regular

    Issy Wood – Study For No at Lafayette Anticipations

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Based in Paris and Shanghai, Production Type is a digital type design agency. Its activities span from the exclusive online distribution of its retail type for design professionals, to the creation of custom typefaces for the industrial, luxury, and media sectors.
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