Inspired by The Le Monde Group’s iconic history, Snøhetta has developed a highly flexible modular wayfinding system that pays tribute to the tradition and art of newspaper printing.
Carved from singular wooden types assembled in a galvanized steel frame, this intuitive and tactile wayfinding echoes the adaptable character of modern-day newsrooms in a technology-driven age.
The wayfinding has been developed in close collaboration with art directors from the Le Monde Group publications, sparking insightful conversations on the European letterpress’ impact on democratization of information and the subtle yet powerful art of typography.
Through its historic references to the revolutionizing societal impact of letterpress printing, the wayfinding echoes the building’s ambitions of providing the public access to information and physical space.
Available in three different font sizes, the wooden types are produced in more than 18,000 specimens assembled throughout the eight stories of the 23,000 m2 building.
Meticulously milled from thick wooden slabs of poplar in a local workshop just outside Paris, and coated by a thin delicate layer of ink-black paint translating the Salmanazar font, each individual type represents a specific character.
Each type could be used to physically print a singular letter on a sheet of paper, and the tactility of each type clearly expresses the wayfinding’s reference to traditional handicraft.
By subtly merging modern references with the touch and feel of a time when the employees of Le Monde still could hear the cylinders of their rotary press roar in their offices at noon sharp, the modular wayfinding intelligently synthetizes past and present in a physical expression of effortless flexibility.