Breaking The Rules

The Whitney Museum of American Art’s Chief Curator Donna De Salvo boldly states, “It would be much easier to present the history of art as a simplistic line–but that’s not the Whitney.” The sleek museum launches a new identity and this statement best describes the strategy of the new identity, a zigzag that represents the letter “W”. The exciting thing about this logo is that it’s responsive. Like a responsive website that changes due the platform or size at which you are viewing the site, the Whitney zigzag changes according to its landscape. The design house, Experimental Jetset, is breaking the rules about brand identity. Rules that tell us that a logo is a static recognizable object that should have few variations and never change. The new identity embraces the current values of the Whitney, flexibility with Artists and respect towards individual dimensions of the art images for all applications. The “Responsive W” also represents the ever changing dynamic of an art museum. Exhibits are always changing and forever evolving.  


The symbolism continues. According to Experimental Jetset’s design memo:

“Obviously, the zig-zag also refers to the industrial nature of the new architecture, the ziggurat-like shapes of both the current and the future Whitney building, the archetypical roofs of factories, and the iconic exterior fire escape stairs of New York. ”

 “The sign of the zig-zag could resemble one of these hidden hobo symbols, graffitied near the train tracks (in this case, the High Line). The shape could also represent the ‘dérive’-like journey of the Whitney through Manhattan, moving from one location to the other. It could also symbolize the signature of the artist; or the waves of the nearby Hudson; or the waves produced by sound and vision.”





Read more about how Experimental Jetset crafted the new graphic identity program for the Whitney here.



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