Established in 1981, Orchestre Métropolitain (OM) is Montréal’s second permanent symphony orchestra after the Montreal Symphony Orchestra with a mandate to “make music accessible to a wide public”. Consisting of approximately 60 musicians, most of whom are graduates of Quebec conservatories and faculties of music, OM plays over 30 concerts per season, the majority in the Montreal Symphony House at Place des Arts. This past March, OM introduced a new identity designed by local firm byHaus.
We have rethought the identity by playing with contrasts and sensations. The new logo is a monogram composed of two letters: one anchored in modernity, the other in a classical tradition. Moreover, the perfect circle which replaces the letter O is exploited throughout a graphic platform as a window where the music is expressed. A lyrical and opulent typographic game completes the identity system.
The old logo was… vibrant. I wouldn’t mind an orchestra using magenta as its main color if the logo supported it, but a heavy serving of condensed type inside a circle hardly qualifies as the type of daring, bold logo that can pull off a color like that for an orchestra. The new logo is, literally, a much more classic rendition of an orchestra logo with a stately, high-contrast serif for the “M” and a nice segue from the old logo with a full circle as the “O” — all in black and white. It’s a simple, elegant combination. Instead of using magenta as a shock-and-awe element it uses the circle “O” as a dynamic element to modernize the identity through elegant and attractive animations. In the full logo, a simple geometric sans, nicely spaced out, complements the monogram. Subtle move on the accent over the “E”, too. But, then… things get awkward.
The “O” in the logo becomes a hole from which detached hands push instruments through. How did they fit that cello? I can see the appeal of this concept and execution, giving classical music a sense of playfulness and accessibility and it might be a personal preference but it’s a little cheesy for me. Execution-wise, they are good and properly done. They considered small details like the arms having white shirts coming out of black holes and black shirts coming out of white holes, which is a sentence I never thought I would write. All hands appear to be men’s though, which, in this day and age, might not play well.
The identity then introduces atipo’s Salomé, which is a very effusive Didone with swashes and curls that is maybe trying a little too hard to get attention and, like the instruments coming out of the “O”, it takes away from the elegance established by the logo, which, as a reminder, looks pretty great on its own:
Overall, this is a robust and appropriate redesign and I acknowledge that I am possibly being overly critical of perfectly fine identity elements that will be pleasing to the orchestra’s audience who probably have better taste than me anyway, since they are at a concert hall listening to Mahler instead of Guns N’ Roses’ Use Your Illusion I AND II on repeat because 1990s.