The Official Catalogue of the 16th International Architecture Exhibition / Biennale Architettura 2018 consists of two volumes:
Volume I is dedicated to the International Exhibition curated by Irish Architects / Curators Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara. This book is the permanent record of the exhibition. As the primary outcome of the overall Visual Identity for the Biennale and the most important piece of collateral produced for both La Biennale and Grafton Architects. As such it had to have significant value in respect of its distinctiveness, presence and visual quality; it required editorial authority; and a design and information framework that was flexible enough to accommodate a diverse range of editorial content yet consistent and robust enough to allow design and production teams in Dublin and Venice to produce English and Italian versions in an extremely narrow production window. Over 1000 pages were produced for three illustrated volumes in less than 3 weeks.
The book’s typographic identity is consistent with the overall visual identity we created for Biennale Architettura 2018. The typographic identity and its communications was inspired by the sheer scale of the columns of the Corderie and Arsenale exhibition venues. The spaces themselves provided key visual and conceptual cues for our initial graphic studies and explorations of light & shade and rhythm & scale – constant and recurring elements in our conversations with the Curators. The coarse textures, contrasting rough and smooth of the columns’ surfaces, and the ever present environmental staining that cascades down every building in Venice is evident in the vertical bias of the ‘typographic stacks’ produced for each application and the book covers.
All of the core applications are fully integrated (Books, Exhibition and Wayfinding). All participants’ content is codified and assigned a common numeric identifier across catalogues, documentation and exhibition spaces. The exhibition catalogue itself is essentially a book of ‘3 acts or parts’: Section 1.0 – exhibition works, Section 2.0 – visual essay and Section 3.0 – practice profiles and biographical notes. The core content is bookended with a visual prologue and a visual epilogue that records the process of developing and installing FREESPACE throughout Venice.
The decision to divide the book in to 3 acts came from an analysis of Venetian opera – in particular the work of Claudio Monteverdi, whose l’Orfeo (c.1607) is often cited as the first work of Italian modernism – and yielded the underlying grids and organising principals for the graphic applications and page designs. Monteverdi’s radical re-conception of traditional Operatic forms resulted in a more universally accessible artform based on a simple 3 Act structure.
This structure and the ‘architecture’ of his opera’s was the basis of our ‘Freespace Scale’; a flexible and modular grid system that provided us with the in/visible structure evident on core pieces of print, and of course the basic editorial format of ‘3 core parts’ for the main book. The grids are overprinted and under-printed in silver throughout the printed texts.