Project: Sydney’s 2011 Christmas campaign

Published:  December 14, 2011
Nicki Wragg
Project: Sydney’s 2011 Christmas campaign

City of Sydney’s 2011 Christmas campaign

Boccalatte -

City of

Christmas is a time of dualities. It can be a time of extreme heat or driving rain, when happiness and sadness are intertwined. For many, it is a time for closure and new beginnings. For me, Christmas is about love, luck and laughter, and it’s also a time for reflection on the smaller and overlooked details in life. While this pause and reflection should occur all year round, sometimes we are just too busy. It is therefore refreshing to speak with Suzanne Boccalatte, owner and creative director of Sydney design studio, Boccalatte, who not only makes it her business to listen and pay attention to the details, but also has a natural affinity with people and a genuine curiosity about the world around her.

Viewing Boccalatte’s website shows an impressive array of work for the City of Sydney, with a range of publications, campaigns, identity design, video and web projects. Underpinning all the work is a quirkiness and humour communicated through form, type and colour. On first impression, Boccalatte’s work has a raw vitality that is free from signature styles or ‘designer-isms’. There is an honesty about the projects in that they are not self-conscious, but communicate in a straightforward and clever way. Despite the visual simplicity, the work is rich with layers of meaning. It’s fitting then that Boccalatte’s seven-person design team won the tender for the City of Sydney’s 2011 Christmas campaign.

When living in a multicultural and multifaith society, designing a simple Season’s Greeting can be a complicated task. The designer is required to navigate a sea of political correctness. For Boccalatte, the design considerations of this tender reflected the complexity of the task and, inevitably, the solution. The design had to be vibrant, celebratory and multicultural, while capturing the collective imagination of Sydney with no religious overtones or use of clichéd imagery. The other objective of the brief was to reignite and revitalise Sydney’s retail precinct and re-engage the community in the city.

The response to the tender was developed over two weeks and involved concept and design development, implementation and production planning, as well as ideas for how the design would evolve over a three year period. Boccalatte’s approach to design reverses the adage that ‘a picture tells a thousand words’: instead, she looks to words to inspire the design process and build a story. This love of words, she says, originates with the meaning of her last name Boccalatte, which translates as ‘milk mouth’.

Using the word ‘kaleidoscope’ as a starting point, Boccalatte looked at what it symbolised, ‘possibilities and potential, collective meditation or prayer, exploring our dreams, hopes and wishes’. Meshing this with the representation of stained glass, Boccalatte developed a symbolic colour palette consisting of blues (Australian skies) soft greens (parks and gardens), bleached and burnt yellows (beaches and sunburn) and deep oranges (sunsets). Using the star as a metaphoric container for the amalgamation of ideas, the team constructed geometric planes of colour that convey depth through their multiple dimensions. The star is bright and compelling to look at, creating a reason to pause and reflect.

Although the star has historical and religious connotations, Boccalatte’s star is not directly connected to either. If anything, it positions the City of Sydney as the ‘star’ and draws on our collective memories of the colours and smells of Australian summers. The series of five banners work together like a kaleidoscope, using scale and repetition to create different configurations of the motif. Having a penchant for an unfolding story, I can imagine endless possibilities for the community to engage with the motif over the next three years in a meaningful way that captures the spirit of the city and the complexities of life in the city.

Jane Stratton, director of Think+DO Tank, says on Boccalatte’s website, “If people matter in your business, look no further.” These are not hollow words. Underpinning our conversation is Boccalatte’s belief that design can create a dialogue and act as an agent of change. Having come from a visual arts background, she made the shift from an arts focus to design over 20 years ago, inspired by the communicative purpose and collaborative nature of the design process. Boccalatte says she ‘fell’ into design; however, viewing her work, it’s clear that it was providence that she entered the communication design domain. Her approach to the Christmas project epitomises her love of Sydney and the deep understanding she has of her community.

The star’s complementary colours reflect the complex dualities that underpin Christmas and life in general, giving us a reason to stop and reflect, when it’s all too easy to forget. The colours call to us to suspend the busyness and enjoy the love, luck and laughter of the season.

From desktop magazine.

All images copyright Boccalatte.

Want to see Melbourne’s 2011 Christmas campaign? Click here.

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