The 'responsive W'

In May 2013, The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, gained a new graphic identity; and what a mighty clever one it is. Created, in collaboration with the Whitneyby Amsterdam-based design team Experimental Jetset and named the 'responsive W', this acrobatic letter-form is fit, flexible and lithe; bending, springing, squishing, stretching, zig-zagging hither and zither. For me, it was love at first sight.

whitney logo.jpg
Photos by Jens Mortensen

Photos by Jens Mortensen

Initial viewing of the Whitney logo in application prompts a need to exclaim, 'it's alive!'. This ingenious W is one that 'responds to the art' featured beside it, adapting to the space graciously whilst maintaining its strong brand identity. It goes far beyond a logo sized accordingly next to a photograph. This identity is no showboater; its monochrome form does not detract from the O'Keefe or Hopper it nestles up to.

The 'responsive W' can be seen in glorious action here, and Experimental Jetset's thought processes behind the identity, are here.

So taken with the Whitney's new logo, I was inspired to create movement in my own graphic identity. The fortyvenus 'planet' is a changeable device; able to bounce and spin on the lines, or strings, that hold it. Like a Newton's Cradle with its swinging spheres or the continuous moving string in the Cat's Cradle game, the lines change direction, adapting to fit in the surrounding space, and in doing so, randomly alter the segments of colour (influenced by the hues of London and Australia). 


Meanwhile, in downtown Manhattan, the Whitney is constructing a new building designed by architect Renzo Piano and due to open to the public in Spring 2015. The Whitney's energetic experimental W, will be given an exciting and expansive new space in which to stretch.

This blog was brought to you by the letter W and the number 40