Snøhetta’s image for its new project. Image courtesy of Snøhetta

Collective Intuition guides Snøhetta’s Wikipedia re-design

The Norwegian practice employs its crowd-sourcing techniques in developing the foundation's visual identity

Why did the Wikimedia Foundation ask Snøhetta to head up its visual identity redesign project? Because it likes how the Norwegian design and architecture agency listens.

“Their experience in building everything from libraries to national park identities has shown them that gathering perspectives for collaborative concepting is the best way to start a project,” the foundation explained in a statement announcing the appointment.

Crowd-sourcing design work is still pretty novel, especially when it comes to creating the kind of projects Snøhetta is best known for, such as auditoriums or memorials. Nevertheless, asking other people has been part of a process the practice has employed pretty much from the beginning. “We approach each project intent on replacing ingrained ideologies with a collectively forged, transdisciplinary logic,” says the practice in its appropriately titled monograph, Collective Intuition. “By first mapping this common ground, or concept, for our projects using words, rather than visual representations or physical objects, we try to avoid giving formal expression to our thoughts too early in the process.”

Some formal expression can’t be avoided of course. Wikimedia, which runs the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, wants to update its identity, using the word "Wikipedia" in place of Wikimedia, yet even this switch comes from a little social research.


One of Wikimedia's own visual guides to the design project
One of Wikimedia's own visual guides to the design project

“We are devising a new brand identity for our movement that uses Wikipedia’s name instead of Wikimedia as the center of this new brand system,” the foundation says. “Research shows that very few people understand Wikimedia. But many people around the world do know Wikipedia.”

Now, other aspects of this reworking will come from the ground up. Indeed, the Wikimedia Foundation has invited volunteers to help guide the process. You can find out more, and throw in your thoughts right here


Snøhetta: Collective Intuition
Snøhetta: Collective Intuition

Meanwhile, for a deeper understanding of the elegant group think that Snøhetta prizes so highly, order a copy of Collective Intuition here.