MUBI Design is an on-going series by Creative Director Pablo Martin spotlighting the art direction behind the scenes at MUBI. MUBI's retrospective "Empowering the Spectator: The Films of Michael Haneke" runs October 17 – December 16, 2019 in the United Kingdom.
Letters are not just abstract objects that can build words and carry meaning; they are also real, physical shapes. In fact, the ancestor of the letter “A” may have been a pictogram of an ox head. Turn “A” upside down and you will understand what I mean. Paying attention to those shapes and using them as a visual element can be an interesting route when designing a visual identity.
After speaking with MUBI's curators about Michael Haneke’s austere but poignant films, using the letter “H” seemed a good starting point, also because “H” is the initial letter of homage as well as that of Hidden, one of the films shown on the platform. My first idea was to try a very bold design, using a big letter that would fill all the surface available. Bold seemed appropriate for Haneke’s films and the simple shape of the letter only one horizontal and two vertical bars—allowed to adapt it to any aspect ratio, from a portrait poster to an Instagram post. I liked some of the first options, which improved when we included a black and white portrait of the director that would perfectly fit inside the counter space of the letter.
Researching more about Haneke, I read this on an interview: “A film director has the right to remain invisible” and “…he [Haneke] prefers to have his contact with reality mediated by a camera.” On the poster, Haneke seemed to be hiding behind the “H” or being protected by the “H”—the design was beginning to work.
There was a last step to get to the final solution. Was it possible to make a more simple solution using less elements? What if the letters that created words, that created meaning, created the “H”?