PLACARD enlists 17 studios to design posters in celebration and support of London’s Rio Cinema
Originally an auctioneer’s shop, London’s Rio Cinema holds a dear place in the hearts of many in the city. It became one of London’s very first picture houses when it was converted by pioneering businesswoman Clara Ludsku in 1909 – remarkably during a time when women couldn’t vote – and went on to be renowned for its art deco-inspired appearance, which has remained almost unchanged to this day.
Since 1979, alongside its ever-rotating line-up of films, Rio has been run as a non-profit charity with an elected board of local volunteers; a model which has seen it become home to activist groups, providing shelter and comfort for people of all backgrounds, ages, race, gender and sexual orientation. Much like many other independent businesses, however, and despite its cultural significance, Rio was unfortunately hit hard by COVID-19.
Aiming to help it get back on track, as well as celebrate its century-spanning history, London-based design studio Gymnasium have enlisted the help of 17 local designers and studios to launch collaborative poster project PLACARD. Contributors including Two Times Elliott, Commission, Studio Lowrie and Sthuthi Ramesh have donated their time and skills to design a poster inspired by the rich history of the iconic institution; the process of which saw them given full access to Rio’s precious archive of printed and digital artefacts as a source of inspiration.
The outcome is a vibrant series of A2 prints, with each one representing a wildly different take on the brief. Available in a run of 20 silkscreen prints or 200 giclée prints, the production of the posters was made possible by Gymnasium’s enlisted partners. Dot Studio worked closely with the creatives, exploring screen-printing techniques and processes before producing the full line-up of prints; while G.F Smith kindly provided their range of papers. The profits of all poster sales are kindly being donated back to Rio Cinema, with the hope of one day restoring it back to its righteous cultural standing.