Friday, August 17, 2018

From 2000?: Danish Defence by Ole Søndergaard of 11Design

We recently noted that the Danish Ministry of Defence had launched a new identity programme at the beginning of the year. A key component of that programme had clearly been to leverage the recognisability of the existing symbol for Danish Defence, which includes Denmark's army, navy and air defence. It therefore deserves a bit more time in the spotlight.

The Danish Defence symbol was designed by Ole Søndergaard, one of Denmark's many influential graphic designers, while at 11Design, a design agency he co-founded in 1985. According to Søndergaard, it was designed in the year 2000 (I haven't been able to confirm this independently).

Inspiration came from the coat of arms of 14th century king Valdemar IV as well as Trelleborg and Fyrkat, two circular Viking age fortifications. Ironically, the symbol for the Danish defence is partly based on something they failed to defend, as the Trelleborg is now located in Sweden. The three wedges can also represent the three branches of Denmark's defence.

The finished mark with a few rejected sketches.

The typeface for the wordmark is FF Signa Extended Black, also designed by Ole Søndergaard. In hindsight one might argue that that was not the best display font to use for a wordmark like that one. It was replaced after about a decade by the more dull but practical Franklin Gothic.

Symbol with original wordmark.
Later updated version, c. 2010.
New version introduced in 2018 as part of a complete identity programme for the Danish Ministry of Defence.

This project was evidentially of great pride to Søndergaard, because when he published a retrospective book of his work in 2012 he chose to put the Danish Defence mark on the cover.

Ole Søndergaard

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