Since 2019, Studio Relajaelcoco has worked closely with Madrid’s notable Thyssen Museum. Having built such a close relationship, 2022 brought with it an exciting new venture: the chance to direct a series of culturally inspired videos that feature dynamic graphics and motion design. Starring in the videos is the Spanish icon and singer Alaska, a central figure in La Movida Madrileña; a countercultural movement that arose in Spain after the death of general Francisco Franco and the country’s transition to democracy. In the videos, Alaska discusses a series of paintings in the museum, “weaving them with aesthetic references and personal experiences that explain certain connections between past, present and future and how art influenced her career”, explains Carmen Fernández Mata, one of the designers at Relajaelcoco.
The project is one that fits snugly within the studio’s remit, being that it focuses predominantly on visual branding and cultural projects. Founded in 2008 by Francesco Maria Furno and Pablo Galeano, the studio saw its first steps designing editorial projects, namely Jot Down Magazine, which led with an interesting approach to infographics and data visualisation. It also made a respected name for the studio, Francesco explains. Now, the studio consists of six people, "each one with different skills but all with the same attitude, starving for experimentation and to explore visual languages”, Francesco adds. At the studio, each person leads a different project. For the case of Alaska, Carmen was in charge of creative production.
“Since the paintings chosen by the museum were very different in terms of style, we proposed that each of the videos had a specific aesthetic,” Carmen details. "Thus the visual resources accompanied the discourse and the elements that were shown in it should be the same.” It was this thinking, alongside the decision to lead with purely typographic work, that led the studio to commission four unique and contemporary typefaces, “to complement each painting in a conceptual and formal way”.
For the first painting, Young Knight in a Landscape by Vittore Carpaccio (1505) is a Renaissance painting showing an armed knight, surrounded by vegetation and wildlife. Wanting to highlight the “chivalrous air” of the painting, Carmen explains they looked for a type with sharp serifs, resembling the armour and medieval imagery. For this, they landed on the Faglia type by Natalia Timea at the Type Department. The second painting included was Expulsion. Moon and Firelight by Thomas Cole (c.1828), featuring a crepuscular gothic landscape. The studio landed on the typeface Faust by Bouk Ra, also at the Type Department, because – as Carmen continues – “the abrupt shapes in the letters and the x height have been key in representing the gothic essence.”
The latter typefaces relate to works that sit at the more contemporary end of the timeline. For the Russian Avantguardists video, Alaska discusses a number of artistic forebears of the constructivist, geometric approach. For this, Carmen landed on Nodo by Due studio for its modular elements, and its repetition and rotation of similar shapes. Finally, for Jackson Pollock’s Brown and Silver I, Carmen says that the studio wanted to take inspiration from “dripping”, for its relevance in Pollock’s work. Therefore, they landed on Pilowlava by Velvetyne, “a typography with very organic endings”.
The studio then highlighted and enhanced the typefaces throughout the motion videos. Over the videos of Alaska speaking – directed by Enrique Millán with music by Pedro Perles – the studio typography appears and disappears as the conversation flows. In the introduction, each typefaces morphs, shifts and transitions into one another, seamlessly representing the interconnected nature of art and its lasting legacy. Moreover, the studio experimented with the typefaces, making new compositions. “In the case of Carpaccio, we chose to create a composition with the initials of the artist VC as a mediaeval badge,” Carmen says, “and with Pollock, we resorted to dripping and repetition.”
Looking back at the project, Carmen sees one of its biggest successes as how each video works independently with its own “personality”, yet all have the ability for coherence, “and respond to a common visual system". Francesco concludes our chat by also highlighting just how special it was to work with such an interdisciplinary group of people, “it’s what makes this series of videos so special and unique”.
GalleryRelajaelcoco: Discover Thyssen Museum with Alaska (Copyright © Relajaelcoco, 2022)
Relajaelcoco: Discover Thyssen Museum with Alaska. Pilowlava typeface by Velvetyne (Copyright (Copyright © Relajaelcoco, 2022)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.