Design for one of the largest antique mosaic exhibitions in Europe.
The Bishop’s Basilica of Philippopolis, the predecessor of today’s Plovdiv, is the largest Early Christian temple in Bulgaria. Through excavation, analysis, and research, the archaeologists determined that between the 2nd and 14th centuries this place teemed with life. Under the Romans, a temple to the deified emperor stood here. In the late 4th century, it was replaced with a majestic church, the Bishop's Basilica. By the 7th century, the Basilica was abandoned, and medieval people settled over its ruins, making them their homes. Almost 300 years later, they turned the site into a cemetery. Today, the place is a visitor center, fulfilling its original purpose to gather people together.
America For Bulgaria
America for Bulgaria Foundation invited us to collaborate on the project and develop the graphic design for the museum exposition of the Bishop’s Basilica in Philippopolis.
➾ A bilingual visual system ➾ 100+ exhibition materials ➾ Over 10 variations of reader rails ➾ More than 50 illustrations
visual system - flexibility
With more than a hundred materials, ranging widely in size and shape, we had to create a flexible, bilingual system that would accommodate varying type of information. All exhibition materials need to be easily accessible, clear and engaging to a diverse group of visitors – from kids to adults.
type hierarchy and layout
Due to the large amounts of texts, the copy became a central figure in constructing the layout. We created a simple block composition that helped us quickly adapt different types of content (images, illustrations, texts and graphics) to varying sizes and proportions. You could say we let the content guide and create the layout.
The color palette had an essential role in differentiating the bilingual text and helping visitors navigate easily through the layout. The palette contains four natural colors inspired by the mosaics. For the Bulgarian - dark blue and for the English - brick red. Ivory for most backgrounds and a warm orange to highlight important elements.
Throughout the project there was extensive use of illustration which served to set the atmosphere and context for the ruins and fragments in the museum. Since historical data is scarce, accurate reconstruction was impossible and the illustrations tiptoe the line between universal and specific, filling in the gaps to help the viewer imagine what life may have been like in ancient Philippopolis.
The Discovery Zone is an interactive play area on the second floor. It aims to make the site's complex story accessible, relevant and exciting to children.
creative direction: Ivaylo Nedkov
graphic design: Tsvetislava Koleva
illustration: Bogdana Peeva
animation: Pavel Pavlov / Atanas Giew / Alex Zhelyazkov
client service & project management: Vera Schwartz / Venelina Miteva
photography: FourPlus Studio / Studio Blenda
user journey, interpretive planning, and exhibition design: SKOLNICK Architecture + Design
mosaic restoration: Elena Kantareva - Decheva