• Transform magazine
  • December 13, 2018

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Wolff Olins brands Parisian gallery, Lafayette Anticipations

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Built around the epitaph of being ‘A unique encounter of creativity and commerce, accessible to all,’ the Paris, France-based Galeries Lafayette is a department store unique among its counterparts.

Constructed 120 years ago, creativity informs its ethos; exhibitions are a core part of Galeries Lafayette’s offering and the concept of art threads throughout its floors. In fact, it is part of the building’s very structure.

Now the core of the building’s artistically-rooted sensibilities is exposed through the recent launch of a new cultural institution within Galeries Lafayette. Proclaimed by Guillaume Houzé, president of the department store’s Corporate Foundation, as a way for the patrons of Galleries Lafayette to become more entwined with the artistic process, the new Lafayette Anticipations encourages artists of all backgrounds, nationalities and specialities to use the gallery’s space, including its basement and mechanical-inspired structure, as a means of experimentation.

The visual identity project for Lafayette Anticipations, led by global design agency Wolff Olins, sees the building's physical structure inspire a bespoke typeface. “We have a project that is unique in character and innovative for the artists,” says Houzé. “The idea here is to give artists the means, including the tools and the machines, to produce something new. What they produce will be presented here, but not only here.” And, with the Rem Koolhaas-designed building as a blueprint, the globally-renowned architect's approach to the building’s layout gave Wolff Olins the most inspirational of approaches. The beauty lies in the intersection between mechanical design nuance and the gallery's functional, inspiring structure.

Working with renowned international type foundry Colophon, Wolff Olins has developed a typeface for Lafayette Anticipations that takes its cues from the notion, ‘less is more.’ In practice, this means the gallery's sans serif lettering is strategically, dynamically cropped to reflect the artistic energy threaded throughout the institution. Marrying mathematics, code and scientific rationale with a sense of the unknown, Lafayette Anticipations is truly a gallery for the contemporary age of art. 

Houzé says, “With Wolff Olins, we have managed to extend a site-specific identity to a global media, through a simple and radical typeface that works as a visual organon. It literally signifies to our audience that there’s more to what one reads or sees.”
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One of the world’s most celebrated architects, Rem Koolhaus’ modernist structural interpretations are globally renowned. From Tapei to the Tate Modern, Bordeaux to Byzantium, Koolhaas’ influence has shaped architecture in the modern world. Koolhaus’ unique take, articulated into a typography-led visual identity through Colophon’s typeface expertise, inspires the creative thinking around the Lafayette Anticipations – the most creative of spaces.

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Lafayette Typing from Wolff Olins on Vimeo.