Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum Signage

Merit Award 2017

In December 2014, following a three-year renovation that has restored the historic Andrew Carnegie Mansion and increased the museum’s exhibition space by 60 percent, the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum reopened to the public. Pentagram’s Michael Gericke and Eddie Opara have collaborated on the graphics for the revitalized institution, including a bold new graphic identity, website, signage, wayfinding, and exhibition graphics.

Michael Gericke and his team developed a vibrant and contemporary signage and environmental graphics program for the Cooper Hewitt’s exterior and interior. The program includes the exterior identity, exhibition directories, wayfinding, and donor recognition graphics. The Andrew Carnegie Mansion is a historic landmark and cannot be physically altered, so the designers found ways to creatively integrate the signage into the building in an impactful but non-intrusive way.

The revitalization of the museum included a major expansion and renovation developed in collaboration with Gluckman Mayner Architects and executive Architect Beyer Blinder Belle, with Diller Scofidio + Renfro designing the casework and initial configuration of the movable display cases for the exhibitions in the first and second floor galleries, the new visitor services desk, the new SHOP Cooper Hewitt, and the new 90th Street entrance canopy. Local Projects focused on the design and production of the interactive media experiences.

Earlier in the year, Eddie Opara and his team designed a new identity system for Cooper Hewitt. Opara’s customized characters for the wordmark have been fully developed into a new typeface, Cooper Hewitt, created by Chester Jenkins of Village in collaboration with Pentagram. The typeface is used throughout the museum’s signage and graphics and is also available free to the public, who are encouraged to utilize it in their own designs (to date, the typeface has been downloaded over 9,000 times.)

Jury Comments: 

"Careful consideration was taken to infuse a bold, clean and simple identity into a historic landmarked and extremely ornate building. A challenging project, which was executed with conviction and bravery!"

"The new exterior and interior wayfinding program is a bold approach and a statement to design in the newly reopened C.H., Smithsonian Design Museum. The wayfinding program uses a modern custom made sans serif font and the color orange that creates a contrast to the restored historic Andrew Carnegie Mansion. But it is the positioning and balance between the old and the new that makes this program work."

Client: 

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Open Date: 

December 2014

Photo Credits: 

Peter Mauss/Esto

Design Team: 

Michael Gericke (partner in charge), Don Bilodeau (associate and designer), Elizabeth Kim (designer), Jed Skillins (designer), Qian Sun (designer), Jessie Wu (designer), Beth Gotham (designer), Amy Boyd (project coordinator), Kelsey Carter (project coordinator), Eddie Opara (partner in charge), Ken Deegan (designer), Chester Jenkins of Village (typeface designer)

Consultants: 

Gluckman Mayner Architects (architect), Beyer Blinder Belle (architect), Diller Scofidio + Renfro (architect), Local Projects (interactive design)

Relevant Links: 

Upcoming SEGD Events

2017 SEGD Wayfinding
2017 Xlab Conference