Stuttgart's Staatsgalerie is renowned for being innovative: from the exhibitions it stages to its colourful, James Stirling-designed architecture. Last week, they launched a new visual identity to match.

The museum has a diverse, 800-strong permanent collection spanning eight centuries. This presented a challenge for Munich-based design firm KMS Team, who were commissioned for the project. Lead designer Aurelian Hallhuber was keen to ensure that the new identity would complement any of the museum's featured works, while reflecting Staatsgalerie's commitment to innovation. To do this, he designed a colourful poster border and logo inspired by the universally recognisable symbol of the ‘hand-frame’. This border functions as a ‘consistent, highly recognisable element to the visual identity but its colour and content may vary’, notes Hallhuber. Like any good frame, it aims to draw focus on the artwork, rather than distracting from it.

KMS and Staatsgalerie decided to launch the design in collaboration with one of the museum's prominent new exhibitions, ‘Giorgio de Chirico: Magic of Modernism’, which runs until 3 June this year. ‘The de Chirico exhibition was the obvious choice,’ Hallhuber comments. ‘De Chirico often painted images inside the image. He put a frame inside the frame’. Using this meta, modernist master as a jumping-off point, a tongue-in-cheek sense of fun is added to the identity.

With such a minimal concept, an equally clean typeface needed to be sourced. KMS opted for the modern, unfussy, ‘Circular’ type, from the Swiss foundry Lineto. Hallhuber notes, ‘It is a very classic Sans Serif font but with a timeless feel. It has a clear and geometric look, but also some round details that contrast the linear logo.’ This soft-edged lettering prevents the overall design from becoming too faddy or cold.

KMS were excited to work in such a dynamic environment, noting the valued input they received from the ‘open’ and ‘courageous’ Staatsgalerie team, but Hallhuber acknowledges that the budget was a little more limited than the 'corporate commissions' he's used to. The upside to this was the 'sense of freedom' surrounding the project. With a blank canvas as a brief, all Hallhuber had to do (with daring simplicity), was add the frame.