Base Design is an international network of creative studios located in Brussels, New York, Geneva, and Melbourne. Base's team of creatives, strategists and digital experts design and craft brands and build unique personalities. Each is built around a singular, compelling idea—simple yet lasting in people's minds. The Studio Museum in Harlem enlisted Base Design’s NYC Studio to redesign their website, envisioning a new digital chapter to align with their evolving institution.
Base drew inspiration from the brownstone’s stoop, a nod to Harlem’s iconic neighborhood feature, to shape the design of the website – a dynamic meeting place echoing with a cacophony of sounds, voices and bustling streets. Embracing noise as a concept, Base digitally echoed the museum's living space, presenting artworks not in isolation but immersed in the context of neighboring creations. Shifting the focus from artworks to the artists themselves, the new website features engaging video and audio clips within the margins—a symphony of peripheral "chatter" acting as side conversations to enrich the user experience. Centered on the idea of the Studio Museum in Harlem as a vibrant meeting place for artworks, artists, and Black culture, these elements foster unexpected connections in the backdrop, capturing the lively essence of the museum’s setting.
The Studio Museum in Harlem worked with Pacific to rebrand the institution and reimagine an identity system that drives forward a legacy of graphic innovation. Pacific is a full service creative agency and publishing house based in New York City. Through a contemporary art lens, the studio works with institutions, brands, and individuals globally to conceptualize how they communicate through design.
Collaborating with the Museum, Pacific looked closely at what type of brand a cultural institution can be, and what a museum can and must do for its audiences—in this case, to be a site of purpose, connection and community in Harlem. The new brand identity forefronts typography and a three-tiered color palette favoring black and grayscale that offers a range of creative options for the Museum to deepen its connection to artists, members, visitors, and Harlem. The updated logotype features its new custom typeface, eponymously and reverentially named “Studio Museum Black.” A refined and timeless type design, Studio Museum Black was chosen for its elegant yet utilitarian nature. The new logo stands upright, making it easy to adapt and scale across print and digital formats. The visual stacking of the words pays homage to Harlem architecture with the tiers forming what resembles a stoop—an iconic feature of the neighborhood and a reference to a design element of the Museum’s new building.
A New Graphic Identity for the Studio Museum in Harlem
Since its inception in 1968, the Studio Museum in Harlem's identity has been defined by its commitment to creating conditions for artists of African descent and ideas about blackness to be seen, celebrated, and supported.