Design studio Civilization filter down complex ideas into clear visual solutions

Date
4 January 2019
Reading Time
1 minute read

For the 21st Biennale of Sydney, Seattle-based studio Civilization devised an identity system illustrating the abstract curatorial theme of ‘Superposition: Equilibrium and Engagement’, and make it accessible to a diverse audience. Considering the nature of cycles, the exhibition cycle of a biennale, the number of locations involved, and the need for flexibility along with thematic alignment, Civilization had a complex task. But rather than shy away from it, they brought that complexity into the design concept, and found a solution that had visual simplicity.

In the studio’s project synopsis, it describes how the designers juxtaposed the principle of a superposition – “all states of being existing simultaneously in equilibrium”, as defined by Civilization – with the Wu Xing cycle of creation and destruction. The relationship between the two elements was then translated into “visual dualities: order versus chaos, connected versus singular, and static versus in motion”, which informed the approach to the biennale’s visual identity.

It’s flexible both in the way it can be applied, and in terms of its parts. The intention was for the identity to be able to expand and contract where needed; to be “fluid, amorphic, and ever-changing” representing a superposition, and “adhering to the sequence of the cycle” as defined by Wu Xing philosophy. Animated, abstracted, layered or dispersed forms float around each other, slot in with each other, are layered and held in orbit; alongside boldly placed type and enough white space for works, captions and publicity information to breathe and hold their own.

Above

Civilization: Sydney Biennale, exhibition collateral system photographed by Michael Ellsworth

Above

Civilization: Sydney Biennale, curatorial statement, photographed by Michael Ellsworth

Above

Civilization: Sydney Biennale, exhibition website home screen

Above

Civilization: Sydney Biennale, directional triffid, photographed by Fiona Susanto

Above

Civilization: Sydney Biennale, exhibition photographed by Michael Ellsworth

Above

Civilization: Sydney Biennale, exhibition detail photographed by Michael Ellsworth

Above

Civilization: Sydney Biennale, exhibition way-finding photographed by Fiona Susanto

Share Article

About the Author

Billie Muraben

Billie studied illustration at Camberwell College of Art before completing an MA in Visual Communication at the Royal College of Art. She joined It’s Nice That as a Freelance Editorial Assistant back in January 2015 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis.

It's Nice That Newsletters

Fancy a bit of It's Nice That in your inbox? Sign up to our newsletters and we'll keep you in the loop with everything good going on in the creative world.