Wall installation in the shape of semi-circular rows of theatre seats

Studio Theatre launches new identity and poster designs

Referencing the theatre’s physical history, past programming, and local community, Pentagram’s Abbott Miller has created a new show-stopping identity for Studio Theatre

Studio Theatre in Washington, which was founded in 1978, has undergone a major rebrand with the help of Abbott Miller and his team at Pentagram.

Located in the 14th Street corridor, the theatre is known for its socially minded and artistically daring productions, but the team there felt that a new look and feel was needed not only to emphasise its ambitious programming, but also to make the theatre a more welcoming and accessible space for the local community.

Black and white business cards featuring the new Studio Theatre branding

According to Variety magazine, Studio is where you will find “today’s edgiest playwrights”, so it’s only fitting then that the theatre’s new identity is equally imaginative and bold.

Type-driven, it draws inspiration from the groundbreaking talent found within the walls of the theatre, but also the walls themselves. Hinting at the industrial past of the Studio complex, which was formerly a factory, the identity seeks to honour the history of Studio, while positioning it as contemporary and forward-facing.

Exterior of Studio Theatre at dusk showing its new promotional posters
Exterior of Studio Theatre showing a row of promotional posters lining the wall

The typography itself is composed of a non-stencil version of the utilitarian heavyweight font AType, designed by Pentagram partner Matt Willey; the geometric sans Metric from Klim Type Foundry; and the serif Publico from Commercial Type. AType in particular has been applied to Studio’s primary communications across its various platforms and assets, as well as to its wordmark logo.

In keeping with the main Studio building, the colour palette for the identity consists of yellow, black and white. The yellow specifically serves to draw attention to the theatre’s position along the 14th Street corridor, while allowing the space to feel engaging and inviting. “The redesigned façade announces the theatre as a vibrant personality within its neighbourhood,” according to Pentagram.

Two posters side by side, one features the word 'flow' in thick red lettering broken over three lines, the other reads 'the colored museum' in elongated red lettering laid over an illustration of an afro comb
Two posters side by side, one reads 'English' in green, white and red, the other reads 'love love love' laid over an illustration of a vinyl record

This vibrancy can be found both outside and inside the theatre, with the interior boasting two large-scale murals composed of materials from the Studio archive, and the exterior showcasing a series of bold poster designs featuring original Studio productions, such as Fat Ham, English, The Hot Wing King, and White Noise.

These posters, which mix collage and layering techniques, contrast beautifully with the bare brick walls, as well as the iconic yellow of the entrance, drawing the eyes of passers-by and allowing Studio to stand out among its neighbours.

Studio Theatre poster displayed on a brick wall featuring a black and white photo of a person speaking into a microphone with colourful lines of text radiating out from the microphone