Gallery's new branding inspired by its modernist home

Underline’s branding for a Toronto gallery played on its most distinctive feature.

Half an hour east of Toronto in Oshawa, Ontario, the Robert McLaughlin Gallery finds itself in a community more interested in ice hockey than art. Yet its stunning, circular glass and concrete building was built 40 years ago during the height of modernism, and its permanent collection includes a fascinating set of work by Painters Eleven. The works are bright, abstract and typically bonkers-Canadian.

Rebranding the gallery would seem the perfect challenge for Underline's Fidel Peña and Claire Dawson. Their first move was to call in a branding consultancy to iron out the brief. Eventually, this boiled down to finding an identity that could attract the community's young people, and hockey parents, to the gallery. "We did a lot of research," says Peña, "but in the end we found their building was one of the biggest inspirations. It's an Arthur Erickson building, very modernist, full of geometric shapes."

"When you walk in there's this big circular window," adds Dawson. And Peña continues: "We love modernism, so we thought creating shapes would be a good way to link the building to its brand. A circle was used to create other shapes, and we created the three letterforms. What was good about it was that it could then break up and become a fun brand, it could become a serious symbol on its own."

An inline in the RMG logotype Underline created adds that touch of detail and elegance. Today, the Robert McLaughlin Gallery is known by its symbol throughout Oshawa, and across Canada's national art scene too.

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