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Audible Made Visual

April 13, 2013

things we like: camerata de lausanne visual identity

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Designing for musicians or musical organizations is tricky business at the best of times, and especially so for classical ensembles. How do you represent the value of something so intangible, emotionally rich, and historically charged in visual form?

It’s a very difficult problem: there’s always the risk of falling back on idealized visual tropes from the 18th or 19th centuries; funding and attendance are ongoing concerns, so there’s often a strong temptation to make something with broad appeal; likewise, at the other extreme, there’s a temptation to produce highly abstract, often obtuse art-pieces that ultimately communicate too narrowly.

We believe Swiss designer Demian Conrad’s recent commission for the Camerata de Lausanne has solved this problem in a way that is beautiful, accessible, relevant, and makes reference to music without using images from the musical world, like instruments or notes.

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The central premise of this identity is the patterning, which is — literally — a visual representation of sound. During the research phase, Demian discovered the work of physicist Ernst Chladni, who invented a technique to show the various modes of vibration of a rigid surface; for instance, he would sprinkle fine sand on a copper plate and then draw a bow across the plate’s edge. Depending on the frequency, a different pattern would result.

Ernst Chladni in 1807

Ernst Chladni in 1807

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Different frequencies produce different patterns.

Simply, Chladni has provided a means to ‘show’ music. From a designer’s point of view, this is a eureka moment, with the heavens opening and a host of angels singing something really, really epic.

Taking this discovery and translating into a visual identity took a steady hand and careful eye, and some inventiveness his own, but Demain has done it with aplomb. Visit Demian’s website for more images and project details.

When considering the pitfalls mentioned above, it’s easy to see that this solution falls neatly in the middle: the type and patterns refer to history (particularly late 18th / early 20th century) without being nostalgiac or trite; the patterns are abstracted but relevant, while being attractive and accessible.

All images via Demian Conrad Design.

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