The Munich-based graphic design studio Bureau Borsche has been designing work for the Bavarian State Opera since 2009. One of the studio’s largest clients, the leading opera house has a 350-year reputation to uphold which needs to be visually translated through its identity. The opera is one of Munich’s main attractions; its architecturally impressive building harks back to the old-fashioned grandeur of royal opera and any strong graphic identity needs to stand alongside the theatrical building.
The studio, founded by Mirko Borsche, took on the corporate design for the cultural institution in a refreshingly, unexpected way. The project is a collaboration with Mark Titchner and the designs are also influenced by the designer Pierre Mendell. Mirko draws on Mendell’s design ethos of pure graphics with the ability to tell stories with only a few elements. Bureau Borsche, in turn, redesigns the opera house’s identity for a contemporary audience. Sympathetically clashing with the antique splendour of European opera, the identity features psychedelic compositions and bright colours (fluorescent ones too) to update the Bavarian State Opera for a modern audience.
“The posters for the Bavarian State Opera have always been collector’s items by opera and design devotees alike”, explains the studio. This year’s poster design ensures its legacy as a stand-out collectable with the chaotic, typographic designs that reference the ornate cornices of the German opera house with avant-garde 3D typography. The bold posters and spreads offer an invigorating uplift to the long-standing, conservative aesthetic of opera houses; injecting contemporary and vibrant design to an art form that, stereotypically, only appeals to older generations.
The new graphic visuals are contrasted against archival, black and white images of operatic scenes. In a cleverly designed identity, the intense, psychedelic graphics are balanced out by the minimal grid of the catalogue. Titled Max Joseph, its text remains monochrome like the artwork peppered through the publication which offsets the intensity of the highly visual pages. Additionally, on the facade of the opera house hangs a bright blue and gold hoisted flag – that you may think represents a trendy agent – but in fact, marks a new era of corporate identity for the Bavarian State Opera house.
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