The city of Amiens in the north of France enjoys an excellent reputation for a number of reasons: being the ancient capital of the Picardie region, it attracts countless visitors that come for its picturesque old town with its fabulous cathedral (the biggest of France); secondly, Amiens’ name is deeply intertwined with that of Jules Verne who lived in this city from the time of his seminal Around the World in Eighty Days until his death in 1905; and last but not least, it is a very young city: close to twenty percent of its 130,000 inhabitants are students at one of roughly forty scientific facilities.
Serving as center for a catchment area of 400,000 people, Amiens also features a buzzing cultural life, and the biggest fish in this pond is the Maison de la Culture, the MCA. It is a multi-partite house staging exhibitions, movie screenings, music, drama and dance performances and provides the city’s largest theater with more than 1,000 seats. The MCA was inaugurated in 1966, following the national plan for decentralization in the field of the performing arts. It is classified a “national stage” which means that it is publicly financed, partly by the city, the region, and the national state, in order to enable an artistic production of regional as much as of national relevance. The current building is fruit of early 1990s post-modernism.
In 2018 the institution adorned itself with a new visual identity that was carried out by French graphic designer Julien Lelièvre, in collaboration with Bureau Jigsaw, Hélène Marian and Jean-Baptiste Levée, from Paris-based type foundry Production Type. Central to the overhaul was a striking typography. The new concept drew from the full arsenal of Production Type’s library.
The first and central type family that has to be mentioned here is PVC by Hélène Marian. By the time of the redesign of MCA it was just fresh from the egg. Back then, PVC came in three flavors, PVC Banner, PVC Menu and PVC Promo, which are each very different from the other. (A fourth flavor, PVC Dynasty, followed in 2021, and a fifth is in the pipeline.) What they share is the exploration of extremes in typeface design. The fonts you see the most in use in this post are Banner Ultra for the logo lettering as much as Menu and Promo for the headlines.
In the reading texts you will spot Production Type’s Media Sans and specifically its text variant which is yet to be released for general licensing. In some of the media designed for the 2018/19 season, Lelièvre recurs to further typefaces, namely the serifed Cardinal (by Jean-Baptiste Levée, Yoann Minet, and Quentin Schmerber) and the sans-serif Signal (by Emmanuel Besse).