Young V&A

Brand Identity, Typography

Reimagining the brand for the V&A’s Museum in Bethnal Green to express its unique voice within the brand family.

The V&A is the world’s leading museum of art and design, with collections unrivalled in their scope and diversity. Based in South Kensington for over 150 years, the V&A is expanding; by 2025 there will be five venues in the UK, including Young V&A and V&A East, V&A Dundee and V&A international initiatives as part of partnerships with other museums. 

As the V&A is grows its family of venues, it needs to create more distinction between these. Pentagram worked with the V&A to help define the unique position for V&A South Kensington and Young V&A, helping to differentiate between the two venues. Building on from V&A’s mission to champion creativity, Pentagram’s task was to reimagine the brand of V&A Museum in Hackney and express its unique voice within the brand family.

The principle was to create a family of venues, each serving their specific audiences, and each playing a specific part in a united purpose. Pentagram Partners Naresh Ramchandani, Harry Pearce and Marina Willer and their teams worked to create the overarching strategic framework and then translated this into distinct brand expressions for V&A South Kensington and Young V&A, to be then followed by V&A Dundee.

Building on the overall brand refresh developed by Mark Porter, Pentagram developed a unique brand style for each of the two Museums, with Marina Willer and team working on the Young V&A and Harry Pearce and team on V&A South Kensington.

Young V&A

Formerly known as The Museum of Childhood, the Young V&A launched to great acclaim in Bethnal Green, East London, one of the city's most cosmopolitan areas. Created in 1974 as an active space for children to play, imagine and design, it inspires and entertains young visitors in a participatory, courageous and guiding way. 

The Young V&A brand needed to reach a more diverse audience both in age and cultural background. Pentagram's vision for the Young V&A is of an active space to imagine, play and design, and one that is ‘Sparking Creativity’ now and for future generations. The brand identity aims to be more expressive and invite participation.

Pentagram’s creative solution expressed these key attributes by hacking the museum's custom Spiller typeface, mixing its Extrabold weight with a selection of handmade characters. This creates a playful, diverse and participatory brand look and is used for headlines across the whole identity. The hacked typeface has a cheeky, lively and free-flowing voice. 

For motion-based applications, the letters are mixed in a stop-motion style, going from a more uncontrolled configuration to simple, straightforward type. This treatment can be used for the Young V&A wordmark in motion, mixing the original characters with the custom hand-drawn type.

The visual system is complemented with a series of hand-drawn illustrations, an eye-catching colour palette and a photography style that references lo-tech zine print production. To support the participatory nature of the typeface and reinforce the accessible approach, Pentagram’s design team developed a set of hand-drawn doodles.

The tone of voice used throughout the various applications centres on the idea of being ‘Seriously Spirited’, emphasising that the Young V&A is serious about the power of creativity, and it communicates this with bucketloads of spirit.

Inclusive and inquisitive, Young V&A is a shining example of what the museum of the future can be, inviting young people to get involved and igniting their creativity. Pentagram has given the new brand charm and character, as well as the tools the Museum needs to engage with its growing audience and inspire generations to come.

Arts & Culture
Brand Identity
Marina Willer
Naresh Ramchandani
Project team
Ashley Johnson
Cleber de Campos
Natalia Witwicka
Kate Blewett
Charlotte Harmsworth
Robyn Siân Cusworth
Jeremy Downes
Reuben Osborne
Mel Duarte (photography)
Commercial Type (typeface build)
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