Tom Hingston on designing for arts venues

As Hingston Studio’s type-led identities for the Serpentine and the V&A greet the general public, the designer talks to us about the importance of creating designs that give institutions flexibility in these times

Over the years, Tom Hingston and his studio have collaborated with luxury houses such as Christian Dior and Alexander McQueen, as well as a spate of musicians including David Bowie, Massive Attack and Nick Cave (whose new album, Carnage, with Warren Ellis features cover art courtesy of the studio). Hingston Studio has also worked with cultural institutions and, after a year of museums and venues being closed, the studio’s projects for a pair of London’s leading arts venues – the Serpentine Galleries and the V&A Museum – are finally fully seeing the light of day.

The identity for the Serpentine draws on the gallery’s connection to nature. The institution has spearheaded the way that arts organisations interact with the natural world through its General Ecology project overseen by Lucia Pietroiusti, whereby ecological principles are reflected throughout the organisation and how it works. And of course, nature is woven into the Serpentine by way of its location, nestled in the heart of London’s Hyde Park.

Top: Installation view of the identity for Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser at the V&A. Image © 2021 Mark Cocksedge/Hingston Studio. Above: Visual identity for Serpentine Galleries, London © Hingston Studio

When Hingston Studio was brought in to update the Serpentine’s visual identity, it maintained this link to its environment. “We were keen to suggest and evoke this idea of place, but do it in quite subtle ways. For instance, we created these modular letterforms and if you look at the wordmark, the interventions that we’ve cut within the letterforms themselves create this sense of movement, which has a nice connection to the fragmented nature of the Serpentine lake itself,” says Hingston.