With collections unrivalled in their scope and diversity, the V&A is the world’s leading museum of art and design. The Museum has been based in South Kensington for over 150 years but is now expanding; by 2025 there will be five venues in the UK, including Young V&A and V&A East, V&A Dundee, as well as V&A international initiatives as part of partnerships with other museums. Pentagram’s Harry Pearce and Maria Willer worked with the Museum as it expands into a wider family of sites, helping it redefine its offer as it enters an exciting new stage in its development.
Pentagram’s strategic work began when the UK was still working under lockdown conditions, forcing the first part of the project to be developed completely remotely. In a series of interactive online workshops with teams from across the V&A, Pentagram facilitated collaborative sessions to establish a strong central strategic framework that could express the V&A’s mission to champion creativity in all its forms for everyone—and do so in a way that was ownable for each individual Museum site.
The principle was always to create a family of venues, each serving their specific audiences, each with a specific voice in a family of voices, and each playing a specific part in a united purpose. The overarching strategic framework was then translated into distinct brand platforms for YV&A, V&A East and V&A South Kensington—each articulating their own distinct relationship to the power of creativity.
Building on the overall brand refresh developed by Mark Porter, Pentagram developed a brand style for two of the Museums, with Harry Pearce and team working on V&A South Kensington and Marina Willer and team working on the Young V&A.
South Kensington is the V&A’s largest, most high profile and most historic site, and is the venue that springs to mind when most people think of the V&A. Integrating the South Kensington site into the new ‘V&A Family’ provided a challenge, as the variety of stories told by the Museum is immense, with exhibitions on everything from Beatrix Potter to the recent Diva show.
With Alan Fletcher’s logo still very much at the centre of the brand, V&A South Kensington has an instantly recognisable visual language.
The V&A South Kensington’s new visual identity is based on the idea of depth and is designed to reflect both the scale and breadth of the exhibitions at South Kensington and the way the museum goes about creating them. Bold headlines are integrated into photographs, with type becoming an inherent part of the image. An underlying graphic language acts to unify the diverse range of content that appears across the Museum’s different platforms.
To date, Harry Pearce and team have created three major campaigns for V&A South Kensington using the new design system, for exhibitions Gabrielle Chanel: Fashion Manifesto, Diva and for the launch of the Museum’s new Photography Centre.