Casa da Musica (Porto)

Porto, Portugal. This building (and skateboard park), designed by Rem Kohlhaas, is difficult to capture in one photo. Walking around it is a constantly close view, with neck straining views upward at the angled planes.


I came to pay my respects to the logo designed by Sagmeister & Walsh for the Casa da Musica. Based on the building's shape, which looks different from every angle, the logo can rotate freely, like the "roll of the dice."

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It was designed so that subidentities can pick up on various angles, image colors, typography or textures, in almost endless ways.

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I admire the sophistication and versatility of the logo and I was hoping to see it in action, on the building and on different printed materials. In all it's glory. But first I noticed, along with the lower case logo font, what seemed like an odd mix of other font treatments.


The mirrored logo at the entry was promising.


But then I started to worry that the logo concept, with its shaping and rotational motion, had been tampered with. It seemed incorrect, flattened, and frozen, especially when used as a pattern.

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Branding is about creating beautiful order. A versatile logo like this can only work if it is applied in the way it was intended, conceptually. I'm sure there's a good story here, about why it went astray. But I left feeling sad.