When the Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum decided to refresh the way it presents itself to the public, it tapped David Pierce, assistant professor of art and art history, to help lead the project. This designer, painter, filmmaker and animator spent the summer in Hanoi to begin working with the museum to develop a new logo, signage, brochures and other materials.
The Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum in Hanoi is one of its nation’s premier cultural institutions, home of a beautiful and distinguished collection of artworks and objects from every era of Vietnamese history.
Now the 57-year-old museum is refreshing the way it represents itself—and it has hired David Pierce, assistant professor of art and art history at Adelphi, to help lead the process.
“I am consulting with them on creating a new brand guideline book and brand identity,” Pierce said.
Pierce spent this past summer in Hanoi working directly with the museum’s director of communications and staff members to develop designs for a new logo, signage, floor map, brochure and gift packaging.
New signage puts a smile on an imposing building
Housed in an 86-year-old colonial structure built as a boarding school for the daughters of French officials, the museum blends in with government buildings in its neighborhood. One
of Pierce’s first tasks was to help it stand out by designing colorful banners to hang on the building’s facade.
“They’re like the banners you see when you walk by MoMA [Museum of Modern Art] in New York City on any given day,” he said. “They keep the museum from looking like an office building. The banners make it look like a welcoming place you want to come to.”
He is also revising the museum’s red and gray palette, adding a range of playful colors to make everything from signs to gift shop tote bags feel more modern and lively.
“Red is the national color of Vietnam, so we kept that as the primary color,” he said. “But since color plays a massive role in communicating identity and mood, we’ll be adding colors like oranges and greens. The new branding will say, ‘This is a vibrant place where you can bring your family, or you can just wander in and feel welcome.’ ”
Pierce isn’t stopping there. He’s adding a second font to the museum’s style book to give signage and brochures a more contemporary appearance, and he’s proposed incorporating a pattern from the museum building’s traditional Vietnamese woodwork as a visual motif for use on signs, tote bags and the institution’s website. He is also redesigning the floor maps inside the museum to make it easier for visitors to find their way through the rambling building.
Pierce returned to the United States at the end of the summer and is continuing to work with the staff on many of the details. He will return to Hanoi to complete the project.
A history with Vietnam
Pierce’s stay in Vietnam this past summer was hardly his first. He had been there many times during his three years teaching graphic design in
Hong Kong. A friend who works as a translator for the museum learned of the institution’s desire to redesign its signage and introduced Pierce to the museum’s director of design.
“I went to Hanoi to visit the museum and say hello,” Pierce said. “We sat down and started talking design. Then the conversation led to collaboration and this partnership grew from there.”
Pierce’s work with the museum is just one of his many projects. A designer, painter, filmmaker and animator, he has exhibited in Taiwan, Thailand, England, Italy and Israel, as well as extensively in galleries in New York City. His films, most recently the animated short Plausible Audio, have been selected for numerous festivals.
He is very satisfied with his collaboration with the Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum.
“It’s been an amazing project,” he said, “and I’m excited that it’s going to help bring even more people into this gorgeous old building to see the incredible stuff the museum is doing.”