Project / Muzium Masjid Sultan Abdullah, Pekan, Pahang
Task / Information Design, Typography
Client / Lembaga Muzium Negeri Pahang
Year / 2016
Chief Curator / Dato’ Ahmad Farid bin Abdul Jalal
Architects / Tamegoro Nagata & Natsue Nagata
Calligraphy & Logo Design / Faisal Somadi
After completing the design work for Muzium Sultan Abu Bakar, we moved on to an old mosque next door. The mosque was built in the 1930s, and had been beautifully restored over two years for its new role as an Islamic arts museum.
Muzium Masjid Sultan Abdullah is a small museum. Walking around its central hall, we felt that there was no real need for any wayfinding or signage system as its architectural layout, defined by its strong symmetry and spatial form, was obvious to any first-time visitor.
Nonetheless, we had to inform the visitor that the interior space is divided into three thematic zones: The Islamic World, The Malay World, and The Royal Realm. To do so, we placed this information on the exhibition labels as a navigational aid instead of creating a separate set of signs, which would have disrupted the flow of lines in the building.
Wall Graphic: Timeline of Islam’s Contributions to Human Civilisation.
Wall graphics were designed with a white background to integrate with the overall white space of the mosque, contributing to its elegance, serenity, and purity.
We always look for opportunities to integrate graphics with the architecture and interior. The timeline itself is a photograph of the coloured tiles on the floor of the mosque.
OBSERVATION—I personally did not think that it was beneficial for the museum to have such lengthy text on the wall panels (as it was done), made even more dense with two languages, especially when digital devices (and beautiful ones too) were available for visitors at every corner of the museum.
There's some wisdom in this quote by Herbert Simon, mentioned in V&A’s guideline for gallery text: “What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of the recipient. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”
Symmetry & Repetition
The writer, G.K. Chesterton, in his 1920 travelogue, described the mesmerising effect of Arabic script painted on the tiles of walls and dome of Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock as being “repeated again and again like ornamental stars or flowers... like the chorus of a song... Indeed, one is driven to repeating oneself about the repetition, so overpowering is the impression.”
The white interior of the museum serves as a blank canvas for the interplay of multi-chromatic light cast by the stained glass windows, warm natural sunlight ranging in intensity from strong to weak, reflections, and moving shadows on tinted translucent walls.
A geometric design from the mosque was used by the architect as a repeating motif to unify the interior and exterior architectural space. We also adopted this motif for the museum's print communications.