Skip to main content

Base Design invites artist Charlotte Chauvin to remix an opera campaign.

Base invited artist Charlotte Chauvin to create La Monnaie Opera’s new season 2019–20 campaign. Together, we worked to experimentally stretch the boundaries of what can be done with a renowned cultural institution’s visual identity.

Ever wonder why most opera and lyric houses communicate in the exact same way? Probably because they think the same old tried and tested recipes are what their audience expects: on stage pictures of singers, classic ‘baroquesque’ typography, and a bit of name dropping (Mozart, Wagner, or Verdi usually do the trick). Typical opera clichés are constantly at work. The main reason for this is that these houses are living in … the past.

This is definitely not the way Peter de Caluwe and his team see things at the world-renowned Opera of La Monnaie, Brussels. After many years of collaboration with them, we continue to be amazed by their ability to question the relevance of opera in contemporary society. Main opera themes are timeless and a great Mozart or Rossini play will obviously never be outdated. But, by inviting contemporary directors, artists, and creators to challenge their practices and habits, Peter and his team believe the role of an opera is to have an active voice and a point of view in the society we live in.

For the new 2019–20 season, the challenge for us was twofold: to create another surprising campaign and to adapt to the new approach of La Monnaie. Instead of working on a theme for the season as we have done in the past, Peter asked us to stick to his vision of a new ‘architecture’ where creation would be at the center. This new seasonal structure will give creation and experimentation every chance. This is why our idea was to ‘remix’ the existing La Monnaie visual identity and to invite illustrator Charlotte Chauvin to bring her incomparable touch to the picture.

General director Peter de Caluwé talks about the look of the new 2019–20 season communications we created with Charlotte: “How to imagine a change of programing? From a thematic season to one which has more of an architectural structure that stretches the capacities and the potential of the company? By stretching the logo? By making it vibrate like muscles do after an intense physical workout? How to do this better than by drawing, instinctively, emotionally, physically? Charlotte did a great job, offering us Cocteau style drawings, all connected to the pieces on the program and the idea of looking for a new horizon. She was accompanied by Base – who else could have given us such a simple yet effective and aesthetic answer to the initial question of how to indicate this evolution. Thanks to our teams at La Monnaie, Base, and Charlotte, our season is starting on a high!”

On her side, Charlotte added: “It was so exciting, as an illustrator, to be able to work on the eminently sensitive, complex and up-to-date themes proposed by the La Monnaie 2019/2020 program.”

Internally at Base Brussels, the project was led by a duo: designer Léa Wolf and design director Sander Vermeulen. It was their idea to add Charlotte to the mix and to give her full trust and the space to express her vision. Léa, about our starting point: "This new campaign had to reset everything, to get rid of established codes, pageantry, and gold. The ambition of Peter de Caluwe, director of La Monnaie Opera, was to break completely with the previous years.”

Sander Vermeulen adds: “This quest for rupture gave us the possibility to collaborate with one of our favourite illustrators, Charlotte Chauvin. Her work is very emotional, which seems like a perfect fit for the opera. It is created in a loose and spontaneous way which we also adopted in the design. We photocopied, pulled and stretched paper and letters. And most of all had a lot of fun doing it.” None of this would have been possible without the input of our friends on the internal team of the Communication Department of La Monnaie. As with every project, the quality of the collaboration made this daring proposal possible.

The program for La Monnaie's new season was unveiled on March 19th by Peter de Caluwe, director, and can be discovered here. The campaign will hit the streets of Brussels in May.