The Kalmar Konstmuseum is a new space for contemporary art in southern Sweden and Stockholm-based studio Sweden Graphics were invited to design the identity and signage for the building. We asked Sweden’s Nille Svensson to talk us through the project, which involved stencilling directly onto the building’s walls…
“The design work was done during the same time as the building was designed and erected,” explains Svensson. “We decided early on that we wanted to paint on the surface of the building walls. The staircase – or stairwell – is a bit of a concrete love affair and we wanted something to kind of bounce off that aestethic, but at the same time work alongside the material.
We designed a new typeface called Kalmar Sans which is available to the museum in a stencil and a non-stencil version – the stencil for big type and the other for smaller type in print etc. The letterforms are, to some extent, a development of a typeface we designed for MTV UK’s channel identity some years ago.
Technically we used a vinyl cut-out masking, so we actually could have used a non-stencil font, but it looks good. By masking out big squares on the wall and placing the type mask we created a signage system that helps you find your way around the museum. The base for the sign is a yellow square which is also the base for the logo and graphics that appear in the stationery.
This square is painted directly over the concrete surface and at some locations it passes over surfaces in laquered wood, so accentuating the idea that the square is sort of ‘slapped on’.
We did some tests on the walls of a ventilation machine room, just to decide what colour and quality of vinyl film to use, but also to see how many layers of paint were needed.
To top it off we designed a huge 3x3m slate logo in solid concrete and stuck it into the soil outside the museum.
I think this works quite well in making the building more inviting and the architecture more accessible as it also strenghtens the graphic quality of the solid black building. At the opening, the Minister of Culture spontaneously positioned herself in front of the logo when asked by the press to pose for pictures.
I also noticed that people tend to stop close to the logo slate for a while before entering or leaving the bulding, and many have their photos taken in front of it. It’s nice that it seems to work as a sort of focal point when relating to the building.
The architecture press has written about it – positively, thank god – as ‘the first Post-It system for buildings’ which, honestly, we never thought about while working on it but undeniably is the natural association to make.”
Sweden also designed the museum’s new website (at kalmarkonstmuseum.se) and templates for posters and catalogues which will be produced in-house by the museum.