A.A. Trabucco-Campos and Pràctica's identity for the Irvington Theater puts the fun in functional
First opening its doors to theatregoers in 1902, the Irvington Theater – formerly the Irvington Town Hall Theater – is the oldest art centre in the state of New York. In 2019, alongside a new ambitious arts programme, the Irvington Theater approached NYC-based designer A.A. Trabucco-Campos and Barcelona and New York-based design studio Pràctica to overhaul their brand identity. Working collaboratively, they have developed guidelines for the theatre’s identity, as well as continuing to work closely with the internal design team.
The core of the identity is typographic; thriving with the basis of Irvington Modern Gothic, a custom-drawn revival of Modern Gothic from 1897, supported by the plethora of fonts from The Pyte Foundry. The dynamic duo ended up designing five additional weights from their initial interpretation of Modern Gothic, eventually selecting SemiBold as the weight used across the entire identity.
The striking but welcoming display type acts as the harmonious antithesis to the wild vibrance of late-nineteenth-century wood-inspired typefaces built by The Pyte Foundry. In 2016 the foundry produced a free weekly font inspired by the often-ignored typographic history of the designs created in-and-around the industrial revolution. With the project resulting in 52 typefaces, Trabucco-Campos and Pràctica saw the opportunity to implement this vivacious range within the Irvington Theater’s brand. “Offering a range of freedom and tangible constraints”, Trabucco-Campos and Pràctica explain, “is usually a winning combination for good design”.
The heritage of the typefaces bleeds into their application as well, with production posters finding both their design and application inspiration in city-littered wheatpaste theatre posters from the turn of the twentieth century. In creating an identity system of layering each production poster over each other, they intend to represent both the theatre’s broad catalogue as well as the notion of change and passing time, due to the seasonal nature of theatre itself. The lively application of this system is subsequently very friendly and fun, producing an approachable and accessible brand that provides a platform for exciting typographic expression.
The uniqueness of capitalising on this extensive range means that there is a selection process in designing for individual events. “The first step is familiarisation with the event and its context, with special attention to any historical cues”, Trabucco-Campos and Pràctica tell us, “the second is the interpretation of the attitude of the event – through typography we can convey dynamism, elegance, rawness, and many other attributes”. Their final consideration is whether there are any distinct associations between typefaces and the events, Trabucco-Campos and Pràctica give the example of their ‘Women Take Action’ poster that “features a dimensional typeface, which has a raw immediacy, but it’s usually associated with sports”.
Acting as the voice for the theatre, the mass variety of styles, especially when contrasted together, help to highlight the cultural diversity and mass variety of productions that the Irvington Theater offers. Within the identity, and complimentary to the bold typography, is a series of highly considered colour. As a reference to the Hudson River Towns local printers that previously printed all of the Irvington Theater’s ephemera as affordably as possible, the colours are exclusively backgrounds to the text, which is permanently black.