Munich-based graphic design studio Bureau Mirko Borsche has held a constant place on our radar with its ever-growing portfolio of projects, its communication-focused design and its bold, striking aesthetic.
This year, the studio has applied its design expertise to the promotion of fine art with its creation of an identity for the Venice Pavilion which could, in turn, embody the concept of the Venice Biennale as a whole.
Founder of the studio, Mirko Borsche, tells us how the project came about: “Stelios Kois, a Greek architect who co-curated the space, asked us to be part of the Pavilion. We knew him from another project and we knew he would give us enough space to create something challenging. The Venice Pavilion invited our studio to contribute as an artist. We are no artists, but we believe in graphic design as a strong tool, so we developed an identity for the Venice Pavilion which could be seen to be the identity of the whole Biennale, while also creating maximum awareness for the Pavilion of Venice. The Biennale’s theme this year is ‘Fake News’, among other topics from the interesting times we live in.”
Speaking of the core imagery and ideas that inform the studio’s design, Mirko says: “The centrepiece of our concept is the Lion of St. Mark, the symbol of Venice. Bureau Borsche created a reduced, abstract form of the lion to highlight the six boroughs of Venice in the lines of its wings. These simple geometric shapes were also used to create the secondary graphical element. The lion is everywhere in the city and easily recognisable. By making this symbol big and the information about the Pavilion small, we knew that most people would misinterpret it as the corporate identity of the Biennale, which strongly relates to the concept of fake news.”
The symbolism of the Lion of St. Mark and the geographical makeup of Venice are pervasive in the visual identity created for the Venice Pavilion, right down to Bureau Borsche’s typographic designs. “We designed an exclusive typeface which consists of mainly vertical bars, in reference to the omnipresent poles throughout Venice, and also in direct reference to the wings of the lion we designed,” Mirko explains.
These graphic elements have come together as the visual manifestation of the intersection between Venice and the arts that lies at the heart of the Biennale. As well as acting as a symbol for the Venice Pavilion, the presence of Bureau Borsche’s concept visualisation throughout the city is a celebratory emblem of the prevalence of art in Venice’s culture and history. Mirko tells us: “The graphical system is applied to many elements, like signs, posters, flags and public transport. There are also several takeaway items such as apparel, tennis balls, plastic bags and lighters which refer to the city’s strong tourist business. All these items are branded in the same way, revealing their connection to the Venice Pavilion.”
The vibrant, distinctive colouring of the design is also integrated into the very fabric of Venice, visible on buildings, in the city’s signature masks, in street stalls, in sheets that stream from washing lines hung high above the winding streets. “Our biggest aim,” Mirko says, “is to involve the people of Venice in that concept. They can either get our branded items provided by the Pavilion, make their own souvenirs, or they can download the graphic for free to create their own product. The idea is to make this symbol viral so that it floods the city, and invite everyone to be a part of the Venice Pavilion. Ultimately, the main piece is the facade, which is hand painted and is, therefore,- the main physical embodiment of the concept. It is directly at the Rialto Bridge and is seen by thousands of citizens and tourists.”