In the 1780s, German physicist (and musician) Ernst Chladni conducted a series of experiments by drawing a bow along the edge of a sand-covered metal sheet; the resulting vibrations caused the grains to align into flat forms. In the 1990s, Swiss designer Demian Conrad explored these “Chladni figures” as an art school student. The effect was memorable, but it wasn’t until last year that he was able to fully explore their potential on a commission to create the graphic character for Camerata, a classical orchestra in Lausanne. “My personal challenge was to find a way to establish a visual identity without falling into the trap of the traditional clichés, like violins or music sheets,” Conrad tells Co.Design.
An early attempt to physically make and photograph the patterns proved too time consuming and difficult to control, so Conrad opted instead to utilize a computer program designed by Mathieu Rudaz. “The controller interface lets us change the amplitude (frequency), shape, and size of each pattern, allowing us to adjust the values of equations that calculate which pixel must be white and which one should stay black in real time,” Conrad explains. The process, though technical and precise, was also quite organic. “Instead of having a fixed graphical element and than multiplied over various media, the design changes in depending the media and the frame–it becomes a flexible identity.” In other words, business cards and posters have different motifs, but a clearly shared heritage.
Neutraface was established as the font of choice, then completely redrawn by Emmanuel Rey with “a much more radical approach to basic geometry,” Conrad says. “The curves are pure and simple.” Horizontal strokes, widths, and heights were also altered to create the now-exclusive logotype. In addition to all the print collateral, the main image on the revamped Camerata website evolves depending on the time of day–a low frequency is represented in the morning, getting higher and higher until midnight. “I decided that it should be reactive, as if it were alive,” he says. “Like its own performance as a Chladni generator.”