The Berlin Philharmonic Logo Is an Example of Design Excellence
What makes these 3 little pentagons so great?
One of my favorite hobbies is collecting inspirations of art and design I come across while browsing the internet. Thanks to those new “save” features in apps like Pinterest or Instagram, I’m able to build little digital art museums for myself. I have thousands of “saved” pictures, from vintage photography to exotic art collage. One day I caught myself amused by the simple, elegant, extremely creative logo of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
Whatever your career is, imagine yourself designing an orchestra logotype. First, you’d take a look at previous creations: mostly elegant curve-shaped designs with ornamental details or typographies. In color patterns, you’d see a majority of red, black and white, sometimes blue or green.
Second, you’d might brainstorm general aspects of orchestras. I’ll help: Tradition. Old Style. Chic. Elegant. Perfection. Beauty. Cult. Deep emotions. Beethoven. The frequency of sound wave. Instruments. Symphonies. The treble clef. The air-drawn lines of a baton.
The ordinary “elegant curve-shaped designs” illustrates these round elements of an orchestra. Music is not “straight”. Emotions are not “straight”. What about the color pattern? They are clearly trying to call attention, communicate passion (red tones) in a classic and elegant way (black, white tones) with notes of respectfulness or loyalty (blue, green tones).
The access to a huge source of inspiration enables the creation of my little digital museums, but it also harms uniqueness. You can create something beautiful and well constructed, but it’s easy to fall into ordinary. You can find many “how-to-do-a-beautiful-orchestra-logo-in-10-steps”, but the real challenge is to be creative and unique and still carry the message you are trying to transmit.
Well, here is why the Berlin Philharmonic logotype owned it:
This overlapped series of pentagon forms (straight lines), instead of illustrating common aspects of an orchestra, communicates the masterful architectural work of Hans Scharoun (1832–1972) for the orchestra’s concert hall, previously all fan or shoebox shaped.
The chosen yellow, a color that’s uncommon for this market, grabs attention, transmits creativity, motivation, optimism, and warmth. That conveys the Berlin Philharmonic is a modern, vivid, joyful orchestra but also warm — musically and emotionally deep.
There is also an easter egg: The overlapped pentagons clearly but not perfectly represent the floor plan of the concert hall. These overlapped pentagons suggest, besides all, a circular movement:
Yes. Circular. Do I have to say more? The logotype merges, in an exquisite way, an architectural uniqueness that characterizes the Berlin Philharmonic, without forgetting the musicality, elegancy, and round elements that surrounds an orchestra. All of those represented, with not a single curve.
“Good design is obvious. Great design is transparent.”
— Joe Sparano