Our New Visual Identity
conducted by Sir Simon Rattle

A 21st century identity for a 21st century orchestra

The London Symphony Orchestra announced Sir Simon Rattle as its forthcoming Music Director in March 2015 and immediately set about reviewing its visual communications in time to begin this new chapter in the LSO's 113-year illustrious history.

Following an extensive audit, our branding agency developed an ambitious and progressive identity inspired by the LSO logo – the logo itself having gained so much recognition worldwide as the shape of a conductor holding a baton, spelling out the Orchestra's acronym. It uses the very same starting point that the logo and a concert performance would – the conductor. With Sir Simon Rattle at the very heart of the visual identity, the visual language created depicts both the conductor’s movements as he creates and shapes a musical performance, and reflects the emotional power of the performance itself through colour, texture and motion.

Capture the conductor

The process of developing the Visual Identity was a totally collaborative one, and the LSO worked closely with all those involved at every stage, starting with the live motion-capture of Sir Simon Rattle’s conducting movements to excerpts of Elgar’s Variations on an Original Theme, ‘Enigma’. The University of Portsmouth's School of Creative Technologies is renowned for its research in motion capture, and along with leading motion capture technology company Vicon Motion Systems Ltd, the group were able to capture Sir Simon’s conducting movement at the Barbican.

Using a motion capture suit and specially modified baton, the setup included twelve top-of-the-range Vicon Vantage cameras capturing movement at 120 frames per second, resulting in incredibly accurate data capture.

Turning movement into art

The second stage of the process saw the LSO's branding agency commissioning and working closely with digital artist Tobias Gremmler who transformed the motion data into a series of an animated films reflecting the emotional qualities of the music. Through Tobias’ creative interpretation, the cacophony of the Orchestra at full force becomes an explosive maelstrom of wood, brass and strings. In quiet and smouldering moments, the LSO string section conjures towers of smoke, and the sweeping gestures of Rattle are rendered in wires reminiscent of the strings on the instruments themselves.

Crafting bespoke typography – using movement throughout the visual expressions

A typographic approach was developed, consisting of two techniques reflecting the movement of Sir Simon Rattle as he conducts: A fluid movement captures his grand and sweeping gestures; an angular movement captures his more intense and urgent gestures. This technique is applied sparingly to the headline font to express the movement and emotion of the music. Singular words are also split over multiple lines, to further add a sense of movement and rhythm.

Capturing the moment in photography

Concurrently to the developing artwork based on the motion graphics data, the LSO commissioned photographer Ranald Mackechnie to capture moments in music from the Orchestra's musicians. A key aspect of the photography was to reflect the movement and emotion in music that mirrored the design concept, whilst genuinely conveying the LSO's players' depth of musicianship.

The Identity in Application

The LSO will continue to develop its Visual Identity towards the beginning of the 2017/18 Season and Sir Simon Rattle's tenure as the LSO's Music Director.