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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Four Questions for Clara Cornelius about BAM: The Complete Works

The cover of BAM: The Complete Works
Clara Cornelius is director of design at BAM and the designer of the recently published book BAM: The Complete Works.

1. Let’s start with the book cover. Can you tell us a little about what went into deciding on the photo?

The big challenge with the cover was trying to convey the aspirations of an entire institution in one take. We looked at SO many images. Literally hundreds. Ultimately, we felt this image from Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch's Vollmond  evoked the energy, spirit, and singularity of what BAM is. The image is raw, beautiful, and provocative, just like us.

2. It’s easy to forget that, while BAM’s visual identity has been somewhat consistent for the past decade or so, it has well over a hundred years of history and change behind it. While working on the book, what was the most striking thing you learned about BAM design of yore? 

BAM has a really interesting design history. There are some beautiful bulletins from the turn of the century, lovely dance cards with scrolling type (Fig.1), and engraved invitations. But the 80s are my favorite to look back on. There's some great collage work, and some really cool day-glo posters for shows like The Black Rider (Fig 3) and The Cave (Fig 2):

Fig 1. Program for Edwin Booth's appearance in The Fool's Revenge, 1878. Courtesy of BAM Hamm Archives

Fig 2.

Anna Pavlowa program announcement, Bulletin of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences,
 1924. Courtesy of BAM Hamm Archives Center

3. You can tell a BAM piece instantly by the typeface and cropped letters. Someone once described the logo as though part of it were always “offstage.” Why are you designers always trying to hide something from us?

Hide something? Not at all. We do our best to integrate image and message as much as we can. We love that interplay and it’s one of the benchmarks of our design. It’s amazing how much you can read without having to actually see all the letters in a word.

4. Not counting ones designed by you/your team, do you have a favorite BAM marketing piece from years past?

Like I said before, the 80s were my personal favorite BAM design period, and there was a Pina Bausch poster done in 1984 that was particularly gorgeous. Gritty black and white photography collaged with red typography—just fabulous.

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