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(x) Tate Gallery - custom face by Wolff-Olins {Stephen}

I admire the typography used by Tate Gallery, London. They use it for signage inside the museums, on the web, and other places. It kind of resembles VAG and Helvetica Rounded. Maybe it’s a custom face made by Wolf Olins, who created the identity for Tate Gallery. Can anyone clarify?

You can have a close (but brief) look at it by typing


… and the click on “Explore Tate Britain”.

Soren O


Thank you, I love this type and thought perhaps it was custom type for Tat so now I'm sure, I love the G and the lightness and legibility and caracter of this type.

Snazzy. I don’t know anything about it. It looks
like they combined VAG Rounded with a rounded
mutation of DIN (see ‘a’ and ‘R’).


Ahhh… from http://www.wolff-olins.com/tate.htm

“The brand look emphasizes Tate

This is genius. Not merely from a typeface
perspective, but from a corporate identity
perspective as well.

Typical corporate identity systsems strongly
caution against variation. You could even argue
that too much variety dilutes a cohesive
identity. But in this case you could see how
variety would only strengthen the whole.

Imagine you’re an in-house designer at the Tate.
Instead of being handed a system that you could
potentially get very tired of, you’re inspired by
its a huge array of possibilities. Brilliant.


Handling a corporate design system is pretty much a matter getting other people to follow the rules for application. I guess the flexible Tate trademark does not have a guarantee against becoming uninspiring after some months or years. But I like Wolff Olin’s way of rethinking what a trademark can be.

Soren O

Crewdson talked Tate back in Oct 2000:

Miles Newlin writes in: Marina Willer is designer.


The idea for a logo system like this isn’t completely new. Bruce Mau did it in the early ’90s (or late ’80s?) with the Netherlands Architecture Institute’s identity system. Similar thing with the logo being amorphous, mutable, etc.

The typeface is a variation of VAG that I did whilst at Wolff Olins. The italics are my favourite.

But did you ask David Bristow, Gerry Barney, Ian Hay, Kit Cooper, and Terence Griffin for their permission(s) first?


You know you can’t ever be permitted to join The Fraternity if you didn’t.


Roots of Canada (we’re all familiar with them now) has a similar although even more agressive strategy. Their brand seems to change with every application. But I can’t stand those berets. The world would have been a better place without them.