Opinion by Richard Baird Posted 2 March 2018
Boundless Theatre, led by Artistic Director Rob Drummer, is a UK based theatrical group that creates plays for 15 to 25 year olds, “as well as curious others”, that respond to a diverse global culture and empowers young people to collaborate and find their voice. In the spirit of the name, Boundless Theatre tours both nationally and internationally.
With the intention of increasing the profile of the theatre, developing the audience within their core demographic, and engaging with guardians, teachers and donors, Boundless Theatre worked with design studio Spy to develop a new graphic identity. This links a variety of printed materials. These included posters, programmes, business cards and box tape, and extend to digital experiences for mobile and desktop.
Spy’s solution emerged from explorative workshops that engaged with and drew creative inspiration from the young advisory group, artists and team of Boundless Theatre. Shaking up expectations of what theatre is and can mean to young people, risk-taking, immediacy and impact where critical insights that underpin Spy’s strategic and visual response, one that is described by the studio as being optimistic and vibrant, and as having an attitude.
Rather than a formal wordmark or logo, Spy employ something of the rough and ready, and an evident continuity throughout in the overlapping and cropping of Process Type Foundry’s Scandia. Boundlessness is given a literal expression in the way type runs off the edges of business cards and posters, with its multi-directional arrangement conveying, in an intelligible manner, an uncontainable energy and dynamic quality.
The proportion, cropping and overlapping of the Boundless Theatre name lends the work an element of the material, as if type has been printed and cut as if it existed on multiple sheets of paper. There is a made and workshop-like quality to this that feels grassroots yet well-composed, professional and recognisable.
The layering and cropping of type is a simple yet compelling and communicative gesture. Spy draw a visual and expressive variety from this, effectively moving from a singular ribbon of type across solid colour or white space to the busy and chaotic, the layered and loud. Visual voice is modulated and tuned to context, worked around and over image and text. Colour and weighting of type further this. It provides a visual take on the youthful and confident, with an inclusive, if slightly stereotypical quality in the pink, red and blue combination. These choices are elevated through contrast, in the uniformity and mechanical origins of a monospaced typeface, and moments of white space. Much of the visual language employed in print is also translated well online.
Boundless Theatre’s first play ‘Natives’ by Glenn Waldron coincided with the launch of their new visual identity and provided Spy with an opportunity to explore juxtaposition in the art direction of the campaign and in the design of a video sting, microsite and associated materials which included photography by Christian Sinibaldi. These offer a bit more breadth to graphic identity. The glitch in photography brings a digital motif and contrast to the material qualities of type. Layering imagery builds on the visual language of graphic identity. And the urban images, language and colour pushes type towards the divisional nature of police cordons and the boundaries these form. The irony here, within the context of the name, is not lost, and perhaps a nod to social issues and tensions. More work by Spy on BP&O.
Design: Spy. Opinion: Richard Baird. Fonts: Scandia & Akkurat Mono.