‘Ferrari: Under the Skin’

Brand Identity, Exhibition Design

A major new exhibition at the Design Museum marks the 70th anniversary of an iconic sports car brand.

With a heritage that spans seven decades, Ferrari is one of the world’s best-known automotive brands. The only constructor to take part in every single edition of the Formula 1 World Championship since its launch, Ferrari has become a byword for speed, glamour and luxury. 

The manufacturer’s incredible legacy is explored in Ferrari: Under the Skin, a major exhibition running until April 2018 at London’s Design Museum, in collaboration with Ferrari S.p.a. and Museo Ferrari, Maranello. 

Curated by Andrew Nahum and Gemma Curtin and designed by Pentagram, the exhibition presents an engaging narrative journey through Ferrari’s 70-year history, told through a series of thematic installations. Split into six sections, the exhibition brings together £140m worth of rare cars, as well as original drawings and memorabilia displayed in public for the first time—offering some insight into what makes the brand great.

Pentagram, working closely with curators and collaborating partners, developed the theme of the exhibition—identifying objects, media and sound from Ferrari’s archives that could be used to go under the skin—creating an immersive experience that captures the full revolutionary spirit of the manufacturer.

Pentagram delved into the Ferrari archive to identify items that could be used to bring out the true materiality of the company. Each element reflects a period from Ferrari’s illustrious history, going beyond the red and cliches of masculinity to give meaning and appreciation to the craft involved in creating one of these exclusive machines. Pentagram took visual cues from objects such as promotional materials, modelling clay and material swatches to develop a unique visual language for the exhibition.

The swatches, used by the iconic Carrozzeria Scaglietti in the 1960s, provided the main inspiration for the colour palette that is used across the space. The promotional materials—including vintage posters, brochures and yearbooks spanning decades—were used to develop the event’s supergraphic typography, which reflects the condensed typeface used by the organisation. 

The wayfinding system that Pentagram created for the exhibition was extrapolated from the visual language of directional and safety markings found on the Ferrari factory floor. Applied across the exhibition space, the system ties the exhibits together, guiding visitors through the space.

Pentagram designed the marketing campaign and collateral for the exhibition and was also commissioned to create two cinematic installations celebrating Ferrari’s legacy. Editing together using over 100 clips of archival material, the first film is a tribute to Ferrari's famous race car drivers—exploring the range of emotions, as well as risks, that come with competing in the adrenaline fuelled sport.

The second film, Under the Skin, celebrates the beauty of engineering by taking a hyper-realistic look at Ferrari engines past and present—displaying the topography of old and new across a six metre wide screen in the gallery. Honouring the meticulous design and attention to detail that goes into the creation of a Ferrari engine, the film celebrates the materiality and texture of each component and how they come together. 

Special thanks to photographer Paul Zak, who collaborated with Pentagram on both the marketing campaign and Under the Skin film. Exhibition photography by Luke Hayes and Hamlet Auyeung.

Marina Willer
Project team
Hamlet Auyeung
Stuart Gough
Ian Osborne
Jake Clewis
Marta Gaspar
Sthuthi Ramesh
Leon Hapka
James Falconer
George Edwards
Paul Zak
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