London’s ICA unveils a brand new id and marketing campaign for its 75th birthday

This year marks the 75th anniversary of London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) – a multidisciplinary arts organisation and gallery that’s hosted a long list of landmark shows over the years. Work by artists including Yoko Ono, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Francis Bacon has all been featured at the ICA, which has built a reputation for hosting cutting edge exhibitions and performances.

To mark the milestone, a small, pro-bono creative team including Rebecca Lewis, Chris Chapman and David Kolbusz has developed a new campaign and identity exploring the ICA’s impact, legacy and future. Going up across London during Frieze Week, the campaign serves to highlight not just the history of the gallery, but the artists that have made it what it is today.

Working with the idea that “the ICA is anything but a cold and lifeless white box”, the team envisioned an identity that’s versatile enough to convey the ICA’s sense of playfulness. They began with the logo, which was built from different forms that speak to the idea of an inclusive hub or platform. These forms, though separate, are connected visually and suggest “a progressive and open point of view where different people can come together and participate”.

This is further emphasised by a short animation that shows the three letterforms of the logo moving, shifting and interacting, again hinting at the collaborative and diverse nature of the ICA. The rest of the design system boasts a similar aesthetic, including custom-made fonts by Dinamo – including a bespoke version of Maxi – that feature “a distinctive mix of rounded and rectangular corners, curved inner corners and circular shapes cut out of rectangular forms to directly mirror the logo”.

These elements come together to create an identity that has the artists themselves in mind. The ICA team were eager to centre various figures from the gallery’s past and present within the campaign, using the tagline ‘The ICA is…’ as a way of platforming their voices.

As such, the artists are given space to share their own stories and understandings, revealing the impact the ICA has had on their lives and careers. Moving forward, these statements will be continually updated to showcase new artists, building “an ever evolving picture of what the ICA is”.

Although the identity was initially developed specifically for the anniversary, it’s already been adopted across the ICA, including on signage. “As is often the case, it started as a campaign, and grew into a much larger identity project as we developed the work,” says Lewis.