TORONTO, CANADA – Entro’s work on the wayfinding and donor signage program for New York’s new Whitney Museum of American Art has garnered much attention from the design industry, claiming multiple awards from Red Dot, Graphis, Advertising & Design Club of Canada (ADCC), Applied Arts, Communication Arts, and Society for Experiential Design (SEGD). Four years in the making and a true exercise in the iterative design process, the work is an exemplary piece of experiential graphic design and one that will further propel Entro onto the world stage.
“Being invited to work on the Whitney is a testament to how we’ve evolved the firm,” says Andrew Kuzyk, Founder and Partner, Entro. Following the acquisition of Gottschalk + Ash in 2011, Entro has been growing its portfolio of international work -- and in particular, projects in the cultural sector, where high design is much sought after. “Brands need to be palpable in physical space to have an impact on culture and community,” explains Kuzyk. “Success for us means we’ve translated a brand’s essence into its environment and connected people to that place in a very meaningful way. Within the museum context, it gets more complicated as the brand expression must be realized with a great deal of function and purpose. It demands an architectural sensitivity and an ability to shape the guest experience. The focus is first on facilitating an appreciation of the works and exhibits in the museum, and second, on creating a brand impression. When you can do both, that’s when you know you’ve been successful.”
Entro was brought in on the Whitney project to design identity signage, wayfinding, donor recognition programs, and electronic event displays for the museum’s 9 floors and 220,000 square feet of space. Described by judges as “brand and wayfinding in perfect symbiosis at every touchpoint”, the result is so disarmingly simple and authentic that seeing it for the first time, one would never know the effort required to get there. Randy Johnson, Principal Associate, explains: “That is the beauty of design; when it’s on mark, there is just an incredible sense of belonging, and feeling absolutely right.”
“The ability to conceptualize and present many alternative ideas was instrumental to the process and to realizing the design solution,” continues Johnson. Working with many differing stakeholder groups and architectural considerations meant design ideas were presented, refined, retooled and prototyped several times over before arriving at the final solution. In the early stages of the design development process, a great deal of time was spent analyzing the ideal guest experience, circulation patterns, and how to move people through the space before the team turned its attention to the visual design. Inspired by the “Responsive W” of the Whitney logo and identity system (design by Experimental Jetset), Entro further developed the chevron shapes to form containers for directional messaging. The monochromatic colour palette is limited to black, grey and white, and type is set in all caps with condensed vertical spacing to enhance the elegant but assertive lines of the chevrons, achieving a contemporary yet timeless quality. Consideration was also given to the materials and signage installation methods that would complement Renzo Piano’s nuanced architecture and facilitate maintenance of the signage program by the museum on an ongoing basis. Entro opted for a minimalist approach, applying vinyl on concrete and glass surfaces and a combination of screened graphics and delicate pin-mounted letters on drywall surfaces.
More of Entro’s work can be seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Chicago Institute of Art among others. The firm is now working on similar projects for the National Gallery of Canada, the National Arts Centre, and the Aga Khan Museum.
About the new Whitney building:
Designed by architect Renzo Piano and situated at the lower terminus of the High Line overlooking the Hudson River, the Whitney’s new building, which opened to the public on May 1, 2015, vastly increases the Museum’s exhibition and programming space, offering the most expansive display ever of its unsurpassed collection of modern and contemporary American art.
The firm’s work is about connecting people to place. Internationally renowned for building experiences through visual communications, Entro offers design services in wayfinding, signage, environmental graphics, branding and media architecture. The practice is built on an avant-garde design philosophy grounded by the science of human interactions and the belief that everyday experiences should be inspirational.
Entro Communications Inc. and Gottschalk+Ash