The International Center for Photography (ICP) in New York is the world’s leading institution dedicated to photography and visual culture. Combining a museum, school, and archive, ICP champions the idea of photography as both an art form and an agent of social change with programming that explores the history and future of image making. Pentagram has designed a new graphic identity for ICP that captures the dynamic character of the institution and of photography as a medium.
The launch of the identity coincided with a consolidation of ICP’s activities at a new home on Essex Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 2020. Realizing a long-held goal, the new headquarters reunited ICP’s exhibition and education spaces in an Integrated Center designed by Gensler in a building by SHOP Architects that is the cultural anchor of the new Essex Crossing development.
ICP was originally founded in 1974 by the photojournalist Cornell Capa, who saw photography as a way to not only frame the world but change it. In the 40-plus years since ICP was established, the medium has undergone a revolution: image making is now in the hands of anyone with a mobile phone, and influential pictures can be created by amateurs and artists alike through the digital interface of today's photo apps.
The new logo is a revival of the geometric monogram originally created by modernist design pioneer Arnold Saks for the announcement of ICP’s opening in 1974. No longer just a square, the updated mark can now be reframed into any aspect ratio and the three letters can appear in an infinite number of forms, reflecting the vastness of today’s image culture and the many ways that photographers frame our view of the world.
The scalable logo adapts easily to the changing formats of various digital platforms. Working with typeface designers Andy Clymer and David Jonathan Ross, the Pentagram team developed a logo tool that pushes cropping to its limit, reshaping the logo to assume any width and any height without internal distortion.
The bold mark is set off by primary typography set in Publico, a serif typeface originally designed for newspapers and magazines, a nod to the relationship of photography and journalism.
The identity framework has been extended to publications and promotional materials, the digital design of the website, and a system of signage and environmental graphics for the new location with custom icons built on the geometric shapes of the logo.