Norwegian design and architecture studio Snøhetta has designed the visual identity for one of the country’s most important national transport services. The end-to-end redesign includes a dramatic name change – from Norwegian State Railways (NSB) to ‘Vy’ – reflecting recent, substantial changes to the company.

Founded in 1883, NSB was once responsible for the entire Norwegian railway operation. Today, it looks after travellers, but does not manage or own the rails, their systems, stations or trains. What’s more, it oversees the nation’s electric city cars (a popular mode of transport, particularly in Oslo); and its subsidiary, Nettbuss, is the largest bus operator in Norway and among the top bus operators in Sweden. The change to ‘Vy’ (which roughly translates from Norwegian as ‘perspective’ or ‘vision’) reflects the company’s forward-looking, person-focussed outlook, as well as better referencing its role as an all-round transport provider, not just a rail system.

‘Vy is a real, Scandinavian word, which is distinctive in nature yet not widely used in modern language,’ explains Kjetil Trædal Thorse, Snøhetta founder. ‘At the same time, it’s short and iconic, easy to remember and visually appealing’.

To embody to Vy ethos in logo form, Snøhetta drew from its Scandi roots. The palette – from pine greens to anthracite greys – is based on colours you might see when you move through cities, fjords and mountains of Norway and Sweden, from the vista of a train or bus window. The logo design comprises a single flowing line, connecting the ‘V’ and ‘Y’, rendered in a snaking, train track-like font. Adding to the sense of compositional movement, the bespoke type family (Vy Sans in three weights and Vy Display) was developed in collaboration with Göran Söderström, type designer at Letters from Sweden, with smooth, sloping edges, creating a sense of speed and efficiency.

This isn’t the first time Snøhetta has tackled the visual identity of a well known national body. The Vy design follows the studio’s hard-won redesign of Norwegian banknotes, first commissioned in 2014 and completed earlier this year, suggesting an ongoing emphasis on nationally important graphic design projects. §