NB Studio has designed concert hall Philharmonie Luxembourg’s new identity, creating a generative logo made with creative coding and a “vibrating” typographic treatment.
In June 2022, NB was invited to pitch alongside five other international studios, having previously worked on cultural branding for clients such as the Birmingham Royal Ballet. Working with cultural strategist Cecilia Martin, the studio devised a strategy and brand that amplifies “emotion, experience and the eclecticism of music” to appeal to the next generation of concert goers, says NB design director Sam Pittman.
The new logo is a depiction of the Luxembourg Philharmonic building, which was designed by architect Christian Portzamparc and completed in 2005. Though the building is instantly recognisable to people in Luxembourg and beyond, many didn’t really know about what was going on inside, according to Pittman.
From the offset, Pittman says it was decided that sound would play a major role in the identity, but the studio wanted to “pair sound and animation in a non-traditional way”. To achieve this, NB collaborated with creative coder Patrik Hübner to make the columns of the logo pulsate to the rhythm of music, drawing the connection between the architecture and the music.
“Every brand exists in the digital world,” says Pittman, “yet the guidelines of the majority still solely exist for static applications; the tool moves away from this way of thinking.”
Pittman says that introducing “previously unfamiliar technologies” was “daunting” at first, but the Philharmonie team saw the value in “defying conventional thinking”.
NB Studio opted to use Basel Grotesk as the brand typeface, selecting it for its “classic, yet modern aesthetic”, says Pittman.
In certain applications, such as headlines texts, Pittman says the typeface has been treated to look as if the letters are “resonating” to convey how “all music is experience through vibrations”. He adds that this “highly distinctive and ownable” typographic treatment is only applied on letters a through to g, as these letters make up the music scale.
Similar techniques have been used for the photographic treatments. The “resonating portraits” effect is created using “large crops” of the logo “as a framework to send musical vibrations through the images”, says Pittman. A “line portraits” treatment – “a continuation of the line/column graphic style” – is only used within key visuals, he adds.
Around 40% of the Philharmonie’s programming goes to its offering for children, so NB had to also consider this younger audience. Resonating letters are replaced by “a set of fun, bouncy characters”, named after Italian musical terms, such as alto (meaning high), dolce (meaning sweet) and fin (meaning end), says Pittman. There characters are depicted playing instruments and express emotional responses to music when animated.
The idea came from an exercise completed amongst the Philharmonie team, who asked children to recreate the master brand logo. They were made using a combination of “school classroom art techniques” including stamping and “scribbling using colouring pencils”, says Pittman.
NB Studio also devised a new colour palette for the Philarmonie, designed to be “purposefully broad and diverse”, says Pittman, so there is something to suit all styles of music, “whether its happy, sad, frantic, or calm”.