Design teams unveil Curve Theatre

Leicester’s £60m Curve Theatre, designed by architect Rafael Viñoly and branded by Morning Design, opens this week after more than six years of design and development.


The theatre, with 750- and 350-seat auditoriums, is based on an ‘inside-out’ inter active concept which aims to draw audiences into perfor mances.


Steel walls that separate the stage and the foyer can be lifted up, making the stage visible from street level, while a glass facade encloses an open-plan foyer with views on to the café, bars, backstage area and across the stage.


New York-based Viñoly has developed the interior scheme, as well as the building masterplan.


Morning Design, known as Nameless Brands until last May, is completing an approxi – mately 18-month-long naming, identity and branding project, the final manifestations of which are a theatre launch brochure and seasonal programme, out this week.


The most challenging aspect of the project, according to Morning Design creative director Ian Haughton, was trying to get the city council’s approval of the various stages of the project, such as the naming of the theatre, at a period when the local authority was preoccupied by a change in administration, from Labour to a Liberal Democrat/Conservative coalition, and then back again.


The name, which had to be meaningful, but generic enough so as not to alienate any sections of Leicester’s culturally diverse population, takes its cue from the distinct form of the building, and has heavily informed the theatre’s visual brand language.


Key features include the Curve logo (pictured top right), made up from a 3D Möbius strip, as well as the Gotham typeface, chosen for its ‘classic’ qualities that fit easily within visual sub-schemes but still retain a strength of character.


The corporate colour is a deep purple, but, according to Haughton, productions will be individually represented by a separate, strong colour. ‘We’ve tried to keep simplicity and consistency with the shows, trying not to crowd the image and use one focal point on each poster,’ he says.


Signage throughout the theatre, devised by Leicesterbased consultancy Newenglish, takes a more conventional approach, far removed from the initial design proposals, accor – ding to Newenglish creative director Carl Bebbington. The final signage system uses offthe- peg aluminium panels (pictured left) that enable information graphics to be inserted and changed.


Bebbington says that because the client team – the consultancy was commissioned by Leicester City Council and overseen by Leicester Theatre Trust – changed a number of times during the development, the brief and direction of the signage changed accordingly. The consultancy worked with Morning Design to ensure that there was consistency throughout the visual brand language and information graphics.


SUPPORTING CAST


• Capital funding – for the building – has come from Leicester City Council, the Arts Council England through the National Lottery, Leicester Shire Economic Partnership, The East Midlands Development Agency and the European Regional Development Fund
• Revenue partners – contributing to Leicester Theatre Trust’s operation of the theatre – are Leicester City Council, Leicestershire County Council and the Arts Council
• Masterplan and interiors are by architect Rafael Viñoly
• Naming, positioning, identity and branding by Morning Design
• Signage and wayfinding are by Newenglish

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