The Stauffer Foundation’s New Identity Effortlessly Balances Tradition and Modernization

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The talented Astrid Stavro and Pentagram team have created the most gorgeous brand identity for Stauffer Center, the world’s first international music center dedicated solely to the higher education of strings, research, production, management, and innovation.

The design team created a new identity that echoes the vision of the Center’s future while staying faithful to its glorious history. The Stauffer monogram and identity is a branding system that’s sleek, elegant, and somehow effortlessly balances being both modern and timeless.

Specializing exclusively in string instruments (violin, viola, cello and double bass), the Stauffer Center offers courses for soloists and ensembles taught by internationally renowned artists. Founded in 2021, the Center is based in Cremona, Italy. Known as the ‘city of violins’, Cremona is where violin making began—as well as being the home of Stradivari, it’s currently home to some of the most respected luthiers in the world.

The Stauffer Center for Strings is an exciting, ambitious, innovative cultural project and centre of international excellence which provides a physical space for two current entities: The Stauffer Academy and the Stauffer Foundation. It draws on the experience of the Stauffer Academy, created 35 years ago, and is emerging half a century after the establishment of the Stauffer Foundation. (2020 saw the 50th anniversary of the Foundation and the 35th anniversary of its Academy.) The Center is the world’s first international music centre entirely dedicated to the higher education of strings, encompassing research, composition, production, management and innovation, with a recording studio and visiting guests from the contemporary as well as classical music worlds.

The Center’s headquarters will be housed in an iconic seventeenth-century palace in Cremona, Palazzo Stauffer, which has been established with partners including Pininfarina and Steinway & Sons. The palace has undergone major restoration to become a high-tech, sustainable and entirely plastic-free multifunctional campus. Founded on the principles of excellence, internationality, innovation and sustainability, the Center aims to promote a unique artistic vision that is increasingly participatory and inclusive.

Director General of the Stauffer Center for Strings and the Stauffer Academy Paolo Petrocelli explains, “We are convinced that today an institution for higher musical education should not only prepare the artists of tomorrow but also have the duty to contribute positively to the construction of a better society. We needed a new identity to reflect our transition and evolution into broader domains, searching for a perfect balance between tradition and innovation.”

The design team created a new identity that reflects the Center’s innovative vision for the future while still acknowledging its amazing tradition and history. In a subtle nod to the instruments at its heart, the dynamic Stauffer monogram is at the heart of the new identity. The classic Neue Haas Unica is used to form an inline letter ‘S’ consisting of four parallel ‘strings’. These represent the four instruments taught at the Center—violin, viola, cello and double bass—all of which have four strings.

The ‘S’ is accompanied by Matthew Carter’s sans serif Miller for the monograms of the Stauffer Center, the Stauffer Foundation, and the Stauffer Academy. Petrocelli adds, “The final result is a contemporary, vibrant, elegant and timeless monogram—a perfect and pure piece of graphic design.” A vibrant colour palette combined with black and white is used across all the various on-and off-line applications.

The Stauffer Center’s identity injects new life into the field of classical branding—an area that can sometimes be quite stuffy—and ensures that it will appeal to the Stauffer Center’s target audience of 20-30-year-old musicians.

Pentagram’s brand identity expertly references the city of Cremona’s extraordinary cultural heritage and provides longevity and an identity system that can grow with the Center and its activities. Petrocelli adds, “I believe the new brand identity perfectly reflects who we truly are today, celebrating our past while connecting to our dynamic future.”

Project Credits


Partner: Astrid Stavro

Jake Gilbert

Tiffany Hultgren

Ry Coleman

Martin Disley