Within the phrases of synesthete Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, ‘music is liquid structure; structure is frozen music’. Not like Nineteenth-century structure, up to date graphic design is afforded no static reprieve – it faces the problem of animating the ‘common language’. Whereas as soon as the plastic arts might content material themselves with merely ‘freezing’ it, in the present day design should breathe life into the visible translation of music, aiming for heat, beating ‘liquid’ life.
The query of the best way to seize sound in visible kind is an endlessly thrilling temporary for designers. So it’s with appreciable envy, in addition to admiration, that I look at Landor & Fitch’s current model id for the Milano Orchestra Sinfonica.
All orchestra model identities should stay or die within the shadow of Studio Dumbar’s collaboration with Amsterdam Sinfonietta, a formidably spectacular undertaking that started in 2006 however reached its peak in 2018 with the launch of a brand new id. Studio Dumbar generated a number of the most really stunning poster designs of the century thus far (for which it was rightfully awarded a D&AD yellow pencil in 2014).
Landor & Fitch’s work bears placing similarity – and never simply because it additionally managed to bag a coveted yellow pencil. The typographic paintings, sharply angled intersecting shapes colored in vivid contrasting palettes all communicate of a visible debt to Studio Dumbar’s work. So what distinguishes Landor & Fitch’s undertaking past being extra of factor? It’s a tough query that casts a shadow over my (very nice enjoyment) of the id, however maybe it may be finest answered by observing that the place Studio Dumbar’s idea revolves round these stellar posters, Landor & Fitch brings a digital-first focus to make the work a fully-fleshed out id, full of peculiar, evocative and precisely-crafted motion. Whereas evaluating pencils is as facile because it euphemistically sounds, it’s however telling that Dumbar received its yellow pencil within the poster design class, whereas Landor & Fitch received its for branding.
The first asset is a flexible logomark within the type of a spiky four-pronged crown comprised of two overlapping and intersecting ‘M’s that echoes the angular structure of Milan cathedral. This visible linkage to a selected sense of place displays a key tenet of the undertaking, which additionally included altering the title of the orchestra from LaVerdi (in addition to abandoning some shockingly uninspired branding).
The emblem is enriched with well-considered animation that expresses visible reactions to sound (the vary of movement is damaged down into ‘round’, ‘response’, ‘diffusion’ and ‘amplitude’, although the vary of expression is potential limitless). Different typographic parts are equally allowed to flex, vibrate and quiver to no matter piece of music is performed. The movement is generally restricted to playful demonstrations of how the standard of single notes from particular person devices might be captured. It will likely be attention-grabbing to see if this typographic framework can be as much as capturing the majesty of difficult multi-instrument actions, the present bar for which is ready by the stunningly complicated animations created for the London Symphony Orchestra by Superunion in collaboration with digital artist Tobias Gremmler, based mostly on motion-data captured from conductor Sir Simon Rattle’s actions.
When not in wonderful movement, the logomark is locked up with a logotype set within the customized created model font ‘TUMB TUMB’. TUMB TUMB is an attention-grabbing semi-serif, with choose upper-case characters that includes diagonals (A, N, M, V and W) being picked out with refined modernist serifs. Landor & Fitch presents that ‘the small serifs are impressed…by the juxtaposition [with Milano Cathedral] of the facades of the buildings from the early 1900s’, in addition to the historic design of Futura, which is (apparently) intently linked to town, regardless of being designed in Frankfurt. The design is refined and offers a pleasingly disrupted visible rhythm that’s nonetheless adequately subtle to protect legibility, passing unnoticed till you look intently.
The title of the font and extra broadly the onomatopoeic typographic illustrations are lifted straight from the work of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, the main determine of the Italo-centric worldwide futurist avant-garde that burned brightly within the early twentieth century however was all however swallowed up by the First World Conflict (for an attention-grabbing dialogue of how Italian Futurism’s uncompromising iconoclasm prefigured and paved the best way for fascism, learn this text). Notably specific reference is made to his illustrated work Zang Tumb Tuuum: Adrianopoli Ottobre 1912: Parole in Libertà (1914).
Futurism shouldn’t be a ghost to invoke evenly. After scrolling by means of just a few pages of this radically, dazzlingly, violently progressive inventive motion, flicking again to Landor & Fitch’s work feels barely tame. After all, stopping in need of a visible model so livid that it invoked the rise of nationalist fascism might be a clever transfer in company branding, however one nonetheless longs for a bit of extra of that sense of teetering-on-the-brink-of-ecstatic-chaos that’s the province of a lot nice classical music…and that Studio Dumbar’s work for Amsterdam Sinfonietta rises to.
However then maybe that’s the genius of Landor & Fitch’s work – that it flirts with the blistering complexity of Beethoven and Stravinsky, but manages to synthesise it into what is clearly a particularly usable id. There’s loads of room for expressive thrives, however it’s nonetheless ruled by the clear guidelines and restraint prerequisite to working efficiently and accessibly within the unforgiving world of recent UX and net environments (a possible weak point of Studio Dumbar’s work for Amsterdam Sinfonietta, however you actually didn’t hear it from me!). Milano Orchestra’s web site has clearly solely been evenly reskinned thus far with the brand new emblem and fonts, however it’s clear that Landor & Fitch’s work will effortlessly translate to beautiful net design. This rebrand is a quintessentially Milanese melody of avant-garde ebullience that has been bottled, however continues to be potently effervescent.