Codea’s identity for an apocalyptic play is designed with death, flies and references to the Bible
Todas las Flores (which translates to ‘all the flowers’) is a deathly play written and directed by Spanish playwright Bárbara Mestanza, in collaboration with theatre company The Mamzelles. Confronting the end of the world through a feminist lens, the play – which premiered as the season opener of theatre Sala Beckett, Barcelona – comprises several protagonists and multiple viewpoints, not to mention an equally as rapid and apocalyptic campaign designed by Codea Studio.
The play was initially invited by the theatre to “head and reflect about death and its immanent condition of our lives,” says Alex Martí, one of three founders of Codea. As such, when it came to the design process, Codea – a Barcelona-based studio founded by Martí, Jose Rosales and Ricard Sunyol – needed to reflect the play’s ominous themes and hasty pace.
Codea worked alongside Kiwi Bravo, a Spanish photography and set design studio, that devised raging imagery and video works in order to depict the play’s anguish and fire. Working with Codea, the identity proceeded to replicate the end-of-the-world auras found in the performance, featuring flashes of bodies, people crying, the deprivation of oxygen and, more importantly, the inclusion of flies as a reoccurring element throughout.
A symbol of decay, the flies are placed using a “tiny metal stick”, says Martí, before transferred into Photoshop for the editing process. The flies are a nice touch considering that they’re provided by a Spanish biologist, Miguel Carles-Tolrà, who’s been studying the species for more than 30 years.
The lettering, on the other hand, is inspired by the calligraphy of the Bible. A hint to the divine, Codea twists this somewhat gothic and religious citation in with elements of flora – an intentional move that lends itself well to the botanic notes of the play’s title. This was finalised by the partnership of two customisable fonts, Romie (2020) by Margot Lévêque and Vivaldi (1970) by Fritz Peters, “an old style font,” adds Martí. “We also adjusted the height and added glyphs referencing the old biblical scripts.”
Then there’s the “classical air” of the lettering that’s aided by these distinctive floral motifs – the kind that can be instantly recognised within the “todas” and “flores” coding, “creating a better balance and composition through the play’s name.”
As for the distinguished colour scheme of red, black and white, this evokes a sense of demonism, blood and, of course, decay. It’s a fine-tuned palette that works exceedingly well in the case of this specific identity. “Through time,” continues Martí, “numerous pantings and symbols referencing the apocalypse have been using contrasting black and red colours. So we did too.”
A stark and heavy composition of weighty themes and visuals, the typeface sings with an old and spooky aura – one that’s littered with notes on suffering, rage and patriarchy. It’s the kind of work that leaves you feeling jittery, like you too might have a fly stuck on your body preempting the end of time.