London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) is a traditional institution with a pioneering spirit. Using cutting-edge technology, a unique brand now marks a new chapter in the organisation’s history and reflects the emotional power of music through colour, texture and motion.
LONDON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
As one of the oldest cultural institutions in London, the London Symphony Orchestra has been at the fore of artistic excellence and collaboration since its establishment in 1904. Now one of the top five orchestras in the world, the LSO is renowned for its enviable family of artists and celebrity musicians, and is respected for its artistry and heritage by audiences and critics alike.
But a seemingly paradoxical part of that heritage is a true pioneering spirit. From running its own record label, LSO Live, to music education and community programmes and performing to an audience of one billion people at the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony, the LSO is the progressive institution with performances renowned as visceral, forward-thinking spirit, unique in the culture sector.
LSO is a remarkable institution, but its brand was rooted in the past. Our challenge was to evolve the brand, helping the LSO achieve its ambition to become a global cultural icon, inspiring a new generation of musicians and their audiences around the world.
The brand evolution coincided with an important moment in the LSO’s story: the appointment of celebrated conductor, Sir Simon Rattle, as Musical Director. This provided the inspiration for a brand identity that begins in the same place as a concert performance – with the conductor.
We wanted to capture the shape of a concert performance and reflect the emotional power, texture and motion of music. We collaborated with Vicon Systems and The University of Portsmouth School of Creative Technologies, using top-of-the range Vicon Vantage cameras to capture Sir Simon’s movements as he conducted Elgar’s Variations on an Original Theme, ‘Enigma’ at the Barbican Centre. Captured at 120 frames per second, the resulting data provided an incredibly accurate picture of the momentum and drama of the music.
Working in collaboration with digital artist, Tobias Gremmler, the data was transformed into a series of animated films that reflect the emotional qualities of the music. Through creative interpretation, the cacophony of the Orchestra at full force becomes an explosive vortex of wood, brass and strings. In quiet, smouldering moments, the LSO string section conjures towers of smoke. And throughout the piece, Sir Simon Rattle’s sweeping gestures are rendered in wires reminiscent of the strings of the instruments themselves.
BRAND IDENTITY AND TYPOGRAPHY
We developed a typographic approach that consists of two techniques, reflecting the dualistic movement of Sir Simon as he conducts. A fluid movement captures his grand and sweeping gestures; an angular motion captures the intense and urgent moments.
This technique is applied sparingly to the headline font to express the movement and emotion of the music. Singular words are also split over multiple lines to further add to the kinesis and rhythm.
A BRAND FOR THE FUTURE
Placing Sir Simon Rattle at the heart of the brand brings new life to the LSO’s conductor identity – an evolved version of our own design, in use since 2004. A demonstration of how logos can evolve over time to support new brand ambitions, the identity now stands where the LSO’s real-life conductor stands: front and centre, the source of direction and interpretation for the LSO’s musicians.
The current animated film and subsequent photographic stills form a visual language that introduces the LSO’s 2017/2018 season. However, the relationship with the LSO is an ongoing one, and as the organisation moves forward, new creative interpretations of motion will be created to complement the LSO’s future seasons.
“The process The Partners have taken us through has been enlightening and made us question many aspects of how a 21st century orchestra should appear to its audience, with the end result being both bold, confident and forward-thinking, and a stunning reflection of how music can inspire, and now exist, in design.”
EDWARD APPLEYARD, LSO SENIOR MARKETING MANAGER – BRAND AND COMMUNICATIONS
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