Irma Boom and "The Rijks"
Irma Boom’s new logo for the Rijksmuseum is out. Some say she doesn’t know how to spell, others say her work with the difficult “ij” digraph is brilliant.
Irma Boom made headlines in Holland this week as the recipient of the prestigious Amsterdam Prize, but also following the unveiling of her much-anticipated logo for the Rijksmuseum.
The Rijks, as it is affectionately known, has used the same logo (designed by Studio Dumbar) for 32 years.
Boom’s new logo reflects the Rijksmuseum’s position as a museum for the modern era, albeit one that houses a history of all things artistic.
"My starting point was the fact that the Rijksmuseum is a national museum with international appeal,” Boom says. “The design is clear and powerful and anchors the museum in the present."
The logo is simple and employs a new font (now called “Rijksmuseum”) that will be used in the museum’s graphic identity. It was designed by Paul van der Laan of the Bold Monday font foundry and includes the capital IJ digraph (two letters with one sound) that Boom used in her original sketches. Effectievely this operates as a single letter.
Until the first half of the last century fonts used in the Netherlands did often have a special IJ, but nowadays a combination of I and J is usually used.
“By restoring the use of this symbol, the Rijksmuseum strengthens its Dutch character, and simultaneously preserves a little part of Dutch typographical history,” Van der Laan says.
The problem, according to some, is that the Rijksmusem is one word and Boom has injected a space between the S and the M. It is a reference to how the museum is locally known – the Rijks – but also comes down to Boom’s own artistic vision.
"A small space as a graphic little trick would have been acceptable perhaps,” writes the writer of the SOS (Incorrect Usage of Spaces) website, “but this is really unacceptable. Before long people are actually going to write 'Rijks museum'!"
“It is a logo!” Boom asserts. “I am a designer and I have artistic freedom to interpret these things … it is simply an image.”
“It really does not matter,” agrees Daniel van der Velden of Metahaven. “At least for me. I really like the logo.”
Van der Velden goes on to call it a confident non-identity. “She spells the name of the museum out in black capitals and that is it. I like it that she doesn’t position anything. It is very confident … in a way it feels like it already existed. I think she has broken the convention that institutions need to have identities beyond what they are as institutions in the first place.”
Boom also says that the space will be utilized in the future to communicate details of exhibitions.
“I never anticipated this reaction,” Boom adds. “I thought all the talk would be about the IJ.”
The new house-style uses a colour palette drawn from highlights of the museum's collection.
Main image: The unveiling of the logo at the Rijksmuseum. Image by Johan van Walsem
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