In 1996, the Guggenheim Museum Store asked for a symbol that could be used for merchandising. Calligraphic flourishing had been a private obsession for several years and this seemed like a healthy outlet. Much like the project of non-objective art, which was the foundation of the museum’s collection, this project brought classical forms into a modern context.
The symbol represents the original museum on Fifth Avenue and how one travels through the building. Our favorite application was on the front of a baseball cap — perhaps an expression of a potential mental state evoked by modern art.
The symbol was honored with a Judge’s Choice in the Type Directors Club 43rd Exhibition — selected by Dave Farey, a noted typographer who has designed faces for Agfa, FontHaus, ITC, Monotype, the Daily Telegraph, European Newspaper, Inter Continental Hotels, and France Telecom.
Farey wrote: “I chose the Guggenheim Museum logo because it communicated directly to me. I have never visited the Guggenheim, but have read about the architecture and Frank Lloyd Wright. The sale between the swirl as a design metaphor and the size of the letters, space, and symmetry made it just Wright.
A while before, I had copied a quote from a book: ‘That a mathematical proof, like a chess problem, to be aesthetically satisfying, must possess three qualities; inevitability, unexpectedness and economy. That it should resemble a clear-cut constellation, not a scattered cluster in a Milky Way.’
Substitute design for mathematical proof, and I will be satisfied with that.”