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Refreshing graphics revamp Greek National Opera's identity

By Dimitris Rigopoulos

A large, full-bodied “S” for “Stachtopouta” (Greek for Cinderella) figured on Athenian billboards recently, with the letter turning into a clock about to strike midnight serving as a reference to the celebrated fairy tale which went on stage at the Greek National Opera’s Olympia Theater recently.

The opera company and noted graphic designer Yiannis Kouroudis joined forces for a second time in an effort to refresh the visual identity of the GNO, a company which has shown dynamic extroversion over the last few years.

“The core idea is that a typographic element takes the lead role in every opera and ballet production,” said Kouroudis of the National Opera’s new communication campaign.

An award-winning professional who counts among his and his k2Design studio’s success stories the strong debut packaging campaign of the Korres Natural Products company, Kouroudis first collaborated with the National Opera back in 2007.       

This time around the graphics are developed in such a way as to reflect or narrate a small portion of the story that audiences will subsequently follow on stage.

“I try to develop illustrations like small-scale signs; simple, straightforward and easy to understand. For them to describe the essence of the story in one word,” said Kouroudis.

In the case of the National Opera, the aim was clear.

“Through our visual identity we also wish to express the new face of the National Opera,” said Vassilis Louras, the company’s communication director. “We want our new identity to transmit a clear and obvious message reflecting the organization’s strategy, its extroversion and high-caliber program in tandem with efficient financial and administrative management. Kouroudis’s aesthetics are a good match for us because through his clear design he manages to balance between the classic and the modern in a way that allows for each message to stand out.”   

Meanwhile, a lot has changed since 2007.

“About six years ago, when we were asked to develop the National Opera’s communication strategy, the local cultural identity sector was in a state of confusion and vagueness,” said Kouroudis. “It was difficult to distinguish one company from another; theater, opera, concerts, they all resembled each other. This changed over the course of three years when we worked together with the National Opera to develop the company’s new identity. We came up with something distinct and strange, something which was outside the norm back then, but was easily recognizable and communicated well. So while times were tough and already uncertain, some people at the National Opera had the courage to listen, accept and dare to do something which had never before occurred in that particular field.”

Kouroudis and his team, who form an integral part of the local creative community, have been closely following the paradoxical boom of Greek graphic design during the ongoing crisis. While business has shrunk overall, the demand for good packaging and strong visual identity is on the rise.   

“The crisis activated people who had never thought of entrepreneurship before. The majority of the people who are starting out now are young, educated professionals who know what they want from design and branding in general. They are fully aware of the fact that a badly designed, amateurish job will damage their venture somewhere along the way. That it will render the promotion of any product trying to compete on the local and international arena even harder, if not impossible. They know that a well-designed product could become global,” said Kouroudis. “So the recession did one good thing. It re-energized the business acumen of thousands of people. Dozens of quality products are being developed in crisis-stricken Greece. This is one of the reasons behind the design revival. I can see a small, yet bright, shining light at the end of the tunnel.”

ekathimerini.com , Sunday December 8, 2013 (14:28)  
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