The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) has opened with a powerful brand identity to represent Africa’s newest cultural icon. Having been appointed the museum’s pro bono advertising agency, M&C Saatchi Abel developed the logo and brand identity to reflect the iconic status and symbolic importance of Zeitz MOCAA both for the continent and internationally.
The museum is housed in the transformed heritage listed Grain Silo building, repurposed by internationally acclaimed architect Thomas Heatherwick in the Silo District of the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town. Originally a grain storage complex dating back to 1924, its 42 silos and elevator building have been gutted, stripped and repurposed to house the most significant contemporary art museum in Africa. What once stored 40,000 tons of grain will open its doors to showcase thousands of works by artists from Africa and its diaspora.
“We believe that the museum’s branding should acknowledge and reflect the unique heritage of the original building, but should also be true to the powerful originality and diversity of the art that the museum houses,” says Ashraf Majiet, Creative Director at M&C Saatchi Abel.
The resulting solution is brutally simple: a graphic rendition of the 42 silos, representing the original building, but adaptable enough to be interpreted through different colourways, patterns and textures. The concept allows the logo to mirror the dynamic environment of the physical building, as well as the ever-shifting universe of contemporary African art itself.
From there, the building’s 42 silos formed the foundation grid for the unique font called Forty Two, which was painstakingly developed for the museum – first by hand and then digitized. This font will be used to signpost everything from toilets to the restaurant in the iconic building.
Stepan Martinovsky, project leader at Heatherwick Studios adds, “It’s heartening to see the building inspire creativity through the work of M&C Saatchi Abel and their unique and special approach to the branding of Zeitz MOCAA.”
In addition to being appointed the pro bono agency for the Zeitz MOCAA, M&C Saatchi Abel has endowed a permanent photography gallery – the M&C Saatchi Abel Gallery – within the museum.
Globally, the M&C Saatchi brand is synonymous with an endearing love of art. The original agency founder, Charles Saatchi, opened his eponymous London gallery in 1985 to exhibit his vast personal collection to the public. In South Africa, M&C Saatchi Abel’s collection of contemporary South African and African art is beyond just a body of art pieces, and is rather seen by the agency as a body of inspiration for the creative company.
“The parallels and debates around the blurring of art and advertising are endless. But what is certain is that both are a reflection of a society at any given time. It is with this in mind that we view the role of art as fundamentally important to inspiring, challenging and building creative and original thought,” says Mike Abel, founding partner and Chief Executive of M&C Saatchi Abel.
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