Into the Unknown

Creating an otherworldly visual language for a blockbuster exhibition

Client:   Barbican Year:   2021 Location:   London, UK Services:   Art Direction, Marketing, Book Design, Exhibition Graphics Photographer:   Dan Tobin Smith Exhibition Designer:   Ab Rogers Design

Into the Unknown is a celebration of science fiction, from the 19th century cabinet of curiosities, to the vastness of space. Through future cities, into the inner landscapes of human perception. Praline embarked on an explorative journey to create an otherworldly visual language.

A lot of fans have preconceived ideas of what science-fiction looks like, based on the iconography of 80s and 90s films and tv-shows. The campaign needed to show that that world is much broader than those pop-culture references and move away from the usual imagery and explore the genesis of the narrative of the genre: the unknown.

Working closely with visual artist Dan Tobin Smith, we seeked out to create a visual language that explores that in a simple, yet memorable way, to be run across all platforms. Inspired by the mystery and light of painters such as Casper David Friedrich, we wanted to create visuals that would appeal to every science fiction fan in a magical way, without showing anything too specific.

The campaign has the right balance of immersiveness, helping to understand the narrative behind the exhibition, and inclusivity for every fan. Each visual has a human element which draws the audience to put themselves inside the visuals, and ask themselves bigger questions and head to the exhibition to answer them.

The visuals set the tone of the entire campaign and were used in every communication materials placed all over London.

The exhibition’s brief was to create an immersive experience which opens up the literature and classic narratives of science fiction to a broader audience, while presenting over 850 works ranging from books, graphic novels, prints, artworks to props and costumes

“The work of Praline is of the highest standards; uncompromising quality of design, commitment and vision.”

Neil McConnon, 
Head of Barbican International
 Enterprises, Barbican Centre