A radical experiment
Shakespeare’s Globe is like no other. With the vision of making Shakespeare accessible to all, it wove into the rich fabric of London over twenty years ago: a faithful reconstruction of the iconic open-air playhouse from Shakespeare’s times. Today it stages productions, workshops, lectures, exhibitions and tours; celebrating the transformative impact of Shakespeare on the world.
Bringing contemporary ideas and audiences into a uniquely historic setting - where the audience and actors share space and light under an open sky - the Globe harnesses the emotional power of performance and participation, sparks curiosity and excites learning. It’s raw, real, and more than any other theatre, it’s alive.
The Globe is an extraordinary experience, an experiment in learning and the magic of the emotions - love, tragedy, revenge, comedy and joy - evoked by Shakespeare’s work. But, over the years the brand became institutionalised. Our challenge was to bring back the original spirit of the Globe, and give it relevance for a modern audience.
To create the brand, we embraced the artistic ethos of the Globe. Our approach was not to solve, but to explore, which allowed the guiding principles of the brand - radical, irreverent, physical and experiential - to emerge. We read, listened, and experienced all the Globe had to offer, sharing our inspiration and ideas. It was more of a philosophical enquiry into the alchemy of Shakespeare’s world than a traditional approach to design.
Working with the Globe’s cultural advisers, Morris Hargreaves Macintyre (MHM), we started by crafting the story of the Globe. Building on the plays’ inherent spirit of chaos, we juxtaposed dozens of narratives and design elements, colliding old and new: from medieval typography and colours, to contemporary images and reinterpretations. Our goal was capture the notions of ‘wonder’, ‘shared experience’ and ‘alive’, across all elements of design.
A new mission statement for the Globe, billed as ‘our cause’, was defined: ‘We celebrate Shakespeare’s transformative impact on the world by conducting a radical theatrical experiment’.
The new identity has a special link to the physical space at the heart of the Globe’s work. Taking inspiration from the distinctive shape of the building - a 20-sided ring, described in the prologue to Henry V as ‘this wooden O’ – a piece of the original timber used to rebuild the Globe was hand-carved into the very same distinctive 20-sided shape. A red ink print of the block, by London’s printers St Brides’ Foundation, retained the granularity of the wood and became the symbol of the brand: an unexpected collision of old and new. With no fixed size and position, the symbol provides infinite possibilities of movement within the visual system, while creating a centre of gravity for the Globe’s open and dynamic world.
The colour palette - shades of red, black and white - is influenced by the colours of the early printing inks of Shakespeare’s plays. It creates a visual signature that ties together the eclectic imagery and typography, while still allowing for endless freedom of expression.
The editorial design of the season’s brochure follows the layout of the first Folio - the earliest collection of Shakespeare’s plays, giving the original 1623 layout a new modern prominence.
The new brand was launched in March this year and we continue to work with Shakespeare’s Globe, the latest project being radical experiments with its commercial merchandise.
Fast Company Innovation Awards
Drum Design Awards
Brand Impact Awards
WPPED Cream Awards
Creme De La Creme
Creative Review Annual