A+E is a Medway/Kent based and Arts Council England funded dance company founded by Aoi Nakamura and Esteban Lecoq.
Their work blends performance and immersive entertainment boundaries, mixing augmented and virtual reality with dance and choreography, to personally affect audiences with work that’s experiential, experimental, emotive, and exciting, and reinvent audience participation in performing arts.
We were tasked by A+E founders Aoi and Esteban to develop a visual identity that reflected the internationalism, energy, and pioneering nature of their creative practice that aims to merge art and technology, bridging the physical and digital worlds.
The identity project coincided with the launch of their new hub located in Chatham Dockyard which required a name and sub-brand. A new home for the practice and a venue offering performance space, skill development workshops, and artists residencies for dance professionals and events that serve the local creative and student community.
As part of the strategic naming work, we recommended that the practice modify their name, which had historically included the golden ratio phi (A∅E), a mathematical proportion found in nature, art, and architecture and held important symbolism for the A+E practice – representing harmony, beauty, and balance in its proportionate relationship between two parts of a whole (technology and performance art).
Whilst intriguing and symbolic of the intention to bring the audience into the centre of the performance, to audiences the phi symbol often required explanation and wasn’t easy to include in organic search terms or copywriting.
With the existing web domain (aoiesteban.com) and social profile (@aoiesteban) it made sense to embrace the founders’ names. The refreshed name (A+E) with A and E holding multiple associations – as well as representing the Aoi and Esteban’s initials the letters also express the concept of ‘adrenaline and endorphin’ feelings which they hope to provoke in their audiences.
The visual language aims to express similar feelings with an impactful yet mature typographic direction, and the wordmark, in particular, bringing a contemporary techy character.
The phi symbol has been retained, in bitmap style, as a playful icon ensuring brand identity continuity and intrigue.
The creative direction adopts a pixel approach that includes a suite of bitmap icons and patterns to create the visual language. The bitmap style aims to express and emphasise digital capabilities, precision, and scalability, and reinforcing the brand’s identity with a contemporary and high-quality aesthetic representative of how A+E’s immersive experiences and interactive performances.
The typographic selection elegantly modifies Alpha Lyrae to create a bespoke font family that combines two contrasting, but commanding, typefaces. AE Plain leans on the classic appearance of Helvetica and AE Pixel offers glitchy bitmap appearance with emphasised edgy terminals.
The dynamic capabilities of the font family provide the opportunity to select pixel alternates to replace specific characters, allowing for playful, dynamic text compositions that help express the merging tech and the performative arts.
The two typefaces express a balance between the tech, art, and dance, aiming to appear less niche or “arty” to the tech world whose support is essential to the practice’s work.
An electric green signature colour acts as a metaphor for the brand’s contemporary energy and hi-tech approach to their performances and productions.
The bespoke website, developed with a customisable WordPress modular system, integrated A+E’s social token initiative and simplified the user experience which by consolidating pages and information and reducing clicks.
A+E’s beautifully produced content – films and photography – took precedence in a clean editorial layout.