It’s easy to think of a library as a dusty repository of the past. But new signage at the National Library of Luxembourg (BnL) is a beautiful reminder that libraries—from the books in the stacks to the events they have on site—are always changing.
Pentagram partner Sascha Lobe and his team designed a wayfinding system for the library with a custom typeface called Bibliothèque that has sharp, angled serifs that nod to the library’s strong architectural angles. (The building was designed by Bolles+Wilson.) The Pentagram team then applied those custom letters to 25,000 interchangeable resin cubes. Individual letters or parts of letters are printed on each face of a cube, so cubes can be placed in rows to form words; or cubes with letter fragments can be stacked to create letters at a large scale. They’re then placed on blank wayfinding infrastructure that has a small lip to hold the them up. The resulting system is similar to a beautifully considered mega Scrabble, and can be easily adapted to meet the needs of the community it serves.
This is a clever way to accommodate the changing role of libraries in communities. With the help of major architectural firms like Snohetta, RDHA, MSR Design and more, the design of libraries has started to shift in response to their multi-purpose use as community centers. Pentagram’s graphic system is in service to that. “There are so many activities that can run in parallel at any given point in time,” says Lobe. “We see the architectural branding as a glue that holds up the BnL as a meeting point for different communities, lending it a poignant identity and gravitas.” And a clever solution for a practical problem: signage that’s always in flux.