There were multiple challenges involved with this project for Austin’s newest art film Cinéma. It was brought to us just six months before the cinema was opened and fast-track construction had just begun. So many decisions were made on the fly, building upon a critical mass of research and initial dialogue.
The wordmark with its subtle yet distinct tri star (jewels) mark over the ‘W’ in CROWN was the result of early inspiration and a bit of a dare. Following five contract adendums, this concept was displayed to the client by sketching in a coffee shop, real time, as an “all or nothing” approach. If the mark worked, we had the job, if not, we didn’t. It was drawn three times, lowercase, titlecase, uppercase, with three dots added for dramatic effect only in the final gesture and dialogue, “Do you see the crown in these letters?”
We got the job.
Heavy research into art and the early beginnings of cinema precipitated the entire design phase. The work of Duchamp, Cassandre, Étienne-Jules Marey, Maholy Nagy, Rodchenko, El Lissitzky, the Dadaists, and the Bauhaus were all used as reference points as opposed to the more ubiquitous references to American Art Deco. These influences surfaced most visibly in attitudes in the print materials, poster series, art pieces and reductive/abstract qualities of the logo.
All sign components were hand-assembled using traditional methods and brush painted to keep the system from feeling too contemporary or slick.
The CINEMA sign over the entry is 22′ long, 4′ deep, and roughly 4′ tall and appears to float in the soft of the entry stair. It’s one of the largest extruded sign forms in the city, and one of few visible from almost any perspective.
The VIOLET CROWN sign spanning through the lobby and floating out over the street on the facade may be one of the only signs of its kind in the city, being both an indoor and outdoor sign and appearing to seamlessly pass through a glass curtain wall.
The print system for the business cards is perforated, taking advantage of the opportunity to reflect the “tear off” nature of traditional movie passes that are not used in this theatre. They are also easily folded into a form that is evocative of the facade of the building.
The “tulip” logo is patterned in 8′ stencils across the facade of the building, and appears again stained into wood on the concierge stand as well as in the end papers of the menu itself.
Graphics for the menu were custom designed in a Bauhaus tradition to imply cocktails, knives, and forks.
The poster series focused on five distinct takes on the nature of the art house cinema brand, living within and expanding upon the Western European art traditions practiced between 1918 and 1930.
Poster print art studies were created with a team of volunteers and the tulip logos set on the locked screens of multiple smart phones. Picasso and Moholy-Nagy’s light studies and early development of motion in front of a camera informed our thoughts on “motion pictures” as art.
In an industry loaded with clichéd gestures, the Violet Crown logo stands alone in its grace and subtlety.
The glamour and pageantry of film, Hollywood, etc. is demonstrated by recognizing the ‘W’ as a crown. The simplicity and sophistication of the art house genre is recognised by our restraint in doing nothing more.
FÖDA elsewhere on Identity Designed: Michael Hsu Office of Architecture.
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