Artek Helsinki, Scandinavian philosophy symbol

by | 31 May 2020 | Graphic

Artek is a Finnish industrial design company specializing in 20th century modernist furniture. From a mixture of art and technology and taking advantage of the best technical experience in mass production, they produce functional products made from good quality materials for everyday life, achieving an esthetic longevity and material highly valued among its customers.

The company was founded in 1935 by the architect Alvar Aalto and his wife Aino Aalto, the promoter of the arts Maire Gullichsen and the historian Nils-Gustav Hahl.

To build the identity of its flagship store, located in Helsinki, contacted the Scandinavian design studio Tsto. This agency works mainly in the fields of graphic design, art direction and consultancy in digital and print media.

Tsto has created a visual system for Artek Helsinki

What identifies this new flagship store is not only the sale of world-renowned Artek products, but also the interesting selection of books and the wide range of events and talks they offer their audience.

The work of Tsto was to create a system based on the already existing corporate identity of Artek, which was superimposed with an additional typography, a set of illustration panels and new visual guidelines. The illustrations are based on close-ups of different shapes and details within the Artek product range, all cut out in a square shape.

But the study approach coupled this system with another typography and illustration, created from the partial forms of the Artek product range, and established a new set of visual guidelines.

The Artek logo and support sans-serif remain unchanged. Despite a more recent refinement of the original cursive design, the logo functions as a fairly direct visual articulation of the company’s mid-century origins, the accessibility and day-to-day functionality of its products and the relationship with parent company Vitra. This comes through its balance of bold sturdy characters and all its composition in lowercase.

The weight and shape reduction is in the same spirit as the logo, but offers more in the form of aesthetic character. Not individually but collectively. The option of using the details rather than the complete shape of the furniture is confident and similarly iconic. These are elevated by their prominence, in size and proportionality in print. There are variations that keep the identity interesting, while the cultivation of the image and its arrangement within the squares establish a useful continuity.

The inverted color palette introduces more variations and functions to divide the assets, and introduces a quality of material in the use of uncoloured papers and print finishes. The black folder has a particular meaning when saving white paper.

The introduction of a high-contrast typography with pronounced serifs contributes to a visual and communicative duality, working in a sense of legacy. This resonates well with the idea of furniture that lives many long lives, and functions as a reminder of the art and craftsmanship that precipitates the mass manufacture of products.

This is an exclusive identity for the flagship store and the elections recognize this and the philosophies that are the basis of the brand, its legacy and commitment to longevity, craftsmanship and accessible design.

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