Cinema ARTA is a more than a 100-year-old art house cinema situated in the center of Cluj-Napoca. After having ceased its activities in 2012, the cinema started a process of reopening in 2015 by gradually resuming certain activities.
It was not only the building, constructed in the beginning of the 20th century in an eclectic style and featuring Art Deco elements, that needed a refresh, but the whole identity of the place.
Many questions arose with the plan of reopening: what can an art house cinema or, more specifically, Cinema ARTA mean today? How can we connect to the complex and rich past of the cinema, while striving to be reborn? And, more importantly, where do we start?
In ARTA’s case, rebranding was the first sign that the cinema will resume its activities, without it announcing the actual reopening. Since we knew that the reopening will be a lengthy process due to the renovation of the building and difficulties with regards to funding, we decided to focus, instead, on creating a visual identity that will, on the one hand, help the public imagine the future space and, on the other hand, work well with ARTA’s events.
To achieve this, we delved into the past of ARTA, to understand what this place meant historically and how it has lived on in the memories and desires of the citizens. Understanding the past and researching the present armed us with plenty of knowledge about what kind of rebrand would work for a cinema that possesses a vast history and has various meanings attached to its name.
First, we looked into ARTA’s history: with the help of a historical study we learnt about the founding of the cinema and how the complex political climate of the 20th century influenced its role and activities.
Another study focused on the social history of the place: from interviews conducted by the researchers we could size up the general attitude of the citizens towards ARTA, both in the past and in the present.
Finally, we organised a focus group in which we asked participants more directly about how they perceived ARTA’s identity and role in the context of Cluj’s current cultural offerings.
From these findings it became clear that the reopened ARTA should become an independent space for community, film and culture. A place where cinema lovers of Cluj can connect both with film history and contemporary cinema. This concept was one deeply rooted in the diversity of the venue’s offerings throughout its many phases, but it also resonated with our wish to make the space be more than just a cinema.
From the whole of the rebranding process, finding a new logo took the most time: aiming to harmonize many layers of expectations and a complicated history, we created around 50 versions, deciding on one that drew from the typography of the old logo on the front of the building.
Although inspired by the old inscription, this new rendition also widened the meaning of the name, as we aimed for an image that was simple enough to reflect the many ideas and dreams people have had for the place.
The minimalist graphical elements of the brand, too, were inspired by the old facade: we deconstructed the Art Deco style logo and reused its elements, a dot, some lines, all arranged spaciously, so one can easily fill it up with meaning and content. And, when it came to colors, we went even further in reconnecting with the past: our nuances were inspired by the antique tiles found in the foyer of the cinema and shaped to suit a contemporary visual style.