Snøhetta’s contrasting identity for Telemark

Oslo and New York-based agency Snøhetta has designed a visual identity for Norwegian county Telemark based on the idea of contrast.

Oslo and New York-based agency Snøhetta has designed a visual identity for Norwegian county Telemark based on the idea of contrast.

Apparently often referred to as “Norway in miniature”, Telemark stretches from the country’s south coast to its Hardanger mountains and is home to forests, beaches, lakes and the Telemark Canal. It’s also an industrial hub – ironworks, mining and brickwork companies have been based there since the seventeenth-century – and was once home to playwright Henrik Ibsen.

Snøhetta was asked to reflect this diversity in a new visual identity for the county and has designed a flexible scheme inspired by traditional dress, natural materials and nineteenth-century signage.

Telemark’s new logo is a bold T divided into two sections. Each half can be filled with contrasting images, colours, or local materials such as glass and copper. “We needed a logo that would stand out and could be used by various businesses and tour operators to promote different destinations within Telemark,” says Snøhetta designer Moa Nordahl. “The ‘T’ stands out but doesn’t tell you too much and companies can use their own images within the symbols,” she adds.

The county’s colour palette is a modern take on traditional red and green costumes still worn at weddings and on National Norway Day on May 17. “When researching Telemark we found there are still some strong customs and a lot of people still wear traditional dress,” says Nordahl. “A lot of the colours are quite dark and heavy, however, so we used lighter more modern versions. As they will be used by a lot of different businesses, the colours couldn’t be too modern or traditional,” she adds.

Typefaces used in the new scheme also reflect a contrast between old and new: Monokrom’s Telefon Regular was chosen for its Norwegian heritage and its modern look, says Nordahl.

“[Telegram] is based on the type found in old telephone kiosks. It’s also similar to a lot of industrial type found in Telemark, so has a nice story and a sense of tradition, but is something we can also use in a modern way,” Nordahl adds.

The identity has so far been applied to stationery, business cards and promotional material for Telemark council. Local businesses are also encouraged to use the scheme but will have to sign an agreement of use and adhere to Snøhetta’s brand guidelines.

“We don’t want to dilute the identity so there some rules and three levels of use: brands can use just the Telemark logo as an official mark of quality; the logo and turquoise colour or the full Telemark identity with just their logo,” she explains. To avoid any confusion, brands will be given access to digital guidelines that will be updated or added to as the project progresses.

Snøhetta’’s marketing material for Telemark also includes images of the region shot by Marcus Nyberg. Nyberg took more than 5,000 photographs, of which 80 or 90 have been used so far. “We’ll release more pictures over time and hopefully have a library of pictures of Telemark in all four seasons,” adds Nordahl.

Snøhetta has been working on Telemark’s identity for a year. The project has been a huge undertaking and is still in its early stages,but it’s a bold and versatile scheme that captures the sense of contrast Telemark was keen to convey. It does have a slightly corporate feel but this is largely due to Telemark’s name, and imagery on business cards and brochures reminds audiences that the county is a place of stunning natural beauty.

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