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Atlantic Theater 2019 – ’20 Season by Pentagram

Opinion by Richard Baird

Campaign identity and programme by Paul Scher, Pentagram, for the Atlantic Theater's 2019–20 season

Atlantic Theater Company was founded in 1985 by playwright David Mamet and actor William H. Macy and, since then, has established itself as an influential Off-Broadway theatre group. It is also known for having a bold and original voice, producing groundbreaking new works by both emerging and established playwrights. This bold and original voice was central to the design of the theatre’s visual identity back in 2015. The first iteration was a visually loud mix of Hoefler&Co’s Tungsten, red and blue ink, an iconic spotlight/ megaphone-like A, a postmodern freedom from formal grids and the overprinting of type and shape. Designed by Pentagram partner Paula Scher, and reconfigured between seasons, this has been a striking and recognisable foundation of the theatre’s communications. Having designed the campaign identities for 2017–18 and 2018–19 Paula Scher returns to design the campaign for the 2019–20 season, introducing photography for the first time and a new material component.

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Åhléns by Happy FB

Opinion by Richard Baird

Visual identity, shopping bags, packaging and signage by Happy FB for Swedish retailer Åhléns

Åhléns began in 1899 as a small mail-order business. Aside from it being one of the oldest it has also grown to become one of the largest retail chains in Sweden. By carefully collating a variety of items across brands and price categories, the retailer maintains its relevance today, understanding and responding to the many ways in which its customers have changed over its long history. Happy FB, the Scandinavian design studio behind Åhléns new visual identity, puts it simply “to Åhléns’ urbane and socially conscious patrons, shopping and sustainability are not contradictions. Inspiration and trends do not equate to use and discard. Premium can be inexpensive and cheap doesn’t necessarily mean a drop in quality”. The retailer’s new visual identity expresses this by taking the well-established Åhléns wordmark and single red and builds this out into a range of changing graphic expressions, imbuing a variety of touchpoints, material and digital, with more character whilst retaining a recognisable immediacy through simplicity.

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246 Queen by Studio South

Opinion by Richard Baird

Graphic identity by Studio South for 246 Queen, a retail, hospitality and business development within a mid-century modernist building in Auckland

246 Queen has a long and storied history. Opened in 1964 on Auckland’s Queen Street, it heralded a new era of modern architectural vision, exclusive boutique-based experience and an urban post-war retail sophistication. The building played host to fashion shows, designer concessions, furniture showrooms and contemporary dining. However, the architectural ideas drawn up by the original architects Rigby Mullan (Alan Rigby and Antony Mallen), remained only partially realised. These are now being paid homage to in the building’s renovation by the Wilshire Group working in collaboration with architects Fearon Hay, once again becoming a mixed-use space of food and drink, retail and commercial opportunities across eight floors.

Architectural details include a distinctive fascia of curved windows and accents, floor to ceiling central glass light well, exposed ceiling and concrete floors. This sits within a district of 20th-century architecture and mid-century landmarks, a broad range of coffee shops and casual dining, the Auckland Art Gallery and the century-old Albert Park.

The marketing of the building and its spaces is aimed at what are described as design-savvy directors. Those with companies within the creative sectors, smart PR, marketing, bespoke legal and financial services, those who have developed award-winning digital experiences or are tech innovators. Essentially, those with clients who expect the structure and space to fit the nature of the companies they intend to work with. In this way, modernist architecture functions as a material symbol of the pioneering spirit that now exists within the less material worlds of the service led and digital sectors.

The marketing language and the graphic identity of the building, designed by Auckland-based Studio South, draws on the history and original vision of the building. This revolves around the modernist, and aimed at those that recognise or are drawn in by mid-century architectural heritage and an associated graphic history, and desire access to contemporary international food and high-quality services in building and locally. This manifests itself through type and text, colour, material and structure, and through a graphic motif that is inspired by the building’s curved accents and large rounded windows.

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