Established in 1913, Rotterdams Philharmonisch Orkest (Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra in English, RPhO for short) is, as its name implies, a symphony orchestra based in Rotterdam, Netherlands, performing at the De Doelen concert venue. RPhO regularly serves as the orchestra in productions for the Dutch National Opera and has made commercial recordings for labels like Philips, EMI, and BIS. Earlier this year, RPhO introduced a new logo and identity designed in collaboration by local firms Enchilada and Bureau Bunk. (No word on whether the two firms were chosen for having awesome names.)
We must make it clear what makes the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra unique. And that’s adventure. So we have done a very adventurous proposal - with great risk that you flip open the laptop to the presentation and everybody as all neck starts to shake.
[…] “The starting point,” says Taco, “was the adventure of the orchestra and the need to come into contact with new people. The orchestra would be doing themselves by adapting itself constantly: even though they do many different things, they remain who they are. Like a kaleidoscope: you have a sight you look through it, inside everything can change, but the framework remains the same. The kaleidoscope was one of the key building blocks for the visual identity. The logo you see that as a logo, with the heart of the explosive power of the orchestra.”
I’m not sure what the half sun represented but the old one was a nice logo overall, with strong typography and a bold, vibrant presence. Based on how the orchestra describes itself — in the quote above and on their site — as being adventurous, then the old logo did lack some risk-taking. In contrast, the new logo, specifically the wordmark, is one giant risk. The icon is meant to be a kaleidoscope; a reference I didn’t get from first looking at it and only gathered after reading. I like the metaphor a lot, likening how everyone’s experience of the same thing can be different depending on how they approach it and how not every performance or every time you peek through a kaleidoscope you will hear or see the exact same thing. Graphically, it makes for a nice icon but I do wonder how many people will actually get the idea.
The wordmark confuses my brain and feelings. By default I do not like unicase approaches but this one is so far out that I find it quite attractive. It conveys the peaks and valleys of the music and the contained energy within any given performance. The one issue I have with it is that perhaps it’s too playful for an orchestra? Maybe we take orchestras too seriously.
The font, which extends from the logo to all display typography in the identity, reminds of the uber-1990s font, Keedy Sans, but with less of an f-you approach. There are some beautiful glyphs in there, like the “Q”s, “j”, and “v” and it’s surprisingly readable.
The applications make clear and heavy use of the custom font, the outer holding shape of the icon, and a yellow-pink-orange-red gradient. Everything looks sharp and vibrand while also being plain weird in that way that only the Dutch can. Between this project and Bond’s Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, orchestras are shedding the more clichéd classical aesthetics in favor of boldness, energy, and distinct personality. What’s next, an orchestra playing Metallica songs? Oh, wait…
Thanks to Reinko Hallenga for the tip.