Zak Group designs new identity for Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt

Zak Group has designed a new brand identity for the Museum für Moderne Kunst (MMK) in Frankfurt, one of Germany’s leading modern and contemporary art museums. The comprehensive identity system encompasses a new logo, bespoke typeface, website and the re-naming of the museum’s three venues. The launch of the identity in October 2018 coincides with the recent appointment of Susanne Pfeffer as director and the opening of two solo-exhibitions by Cady Noland and Marianna Simnett and the group show Because I Live Here.

MMK’s new identity makes a cultural claim. Through the introduction of a superscript trademark symbol: MMK the identity highlights the ways in which brands lay claim to ideas and connect people. The MMK symbol is attached to individual words and phrases to claim them as part of the museum’s identity. To launch the identity a series of sweaters, t-shirts, lighters and caps emblazoned with FRANKFURTMMK claim Frankfurt as a fundamental aspect of the museum’s character. According to Franka Eberlein, Zak Group’s studio and project manager, the identity highlights “Frankfurt’s importance as a cultural power-house and home to important museums, schools and amazing artists.”

As part of the MMK’s new identity Zak Group renamed the museum’s three venues after the type of building they occupy. The postmodern museum building designed by Hans Hollein in 1981 was renamed MUSEUMMMK, the exhibition space located in the financial district was renamed TOWERMMK, and the former customs office was renamed using the German word ZOLLAMTMMK. Adding the MMK symbol to each of these words claims the buildings as belonging to the museum’s identity. The new names are featured prominently on the entrances of the three buildings in steel powder-coated signage.

Zak Kyes describes the underpinnings of the identity as “an hommage to French conceptual artist Philippe Thomas, whose fictitious agency readymades belong to everyone® creatively appropriates the tools of branding and communication.”

The bespoke typeface Museum Sans was designed as a key element of the MMK’s new identity. It draws upon Frankfurt’s history as one of the most important cities for typographic innovation and a key force in solidifying the acceptance of The New Typography. The mono-line design of Museum Sans features high-waisted capitals that reinterpret the unusual geometry of typefaces such as Venus (1907) released by Frankfurt’s Bauer Type Foundry. Museum Sans is used across the identity system and on a range of printed matter, including exhibition materials, gallery guides, ads and stationery. Posters and banners for the inaugural three exhibitions are visible across the city of Frankfurt.

Designed and built by Zak Group’s development team the website mmk.art uses the new “.art” top-level domain extension. Central to the design of the website is an interactive navigation bar that traces the user’s journey through the website, allowing visitors to easily to refer back to previously visited pages. The website contains an archive of exhibitions from the museum’s twenty-seven year history.

With the new MMK identity, Zak Group continues its long-standing collaboration with curator Susanne Pfeffer. Previous projects include the identity of Faust, a new commission by artist Anne Imhof for the German Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale and the identity of Fridericianum, Europe’s oldest public museum. Both projects received numerous awards in Europe and the United States.