From Monday, May 31, to Friday, October 1, 2021, the team at urban.brussels, together with Studio Berga and scenographer Sugiberry, transformed the atrium of the NBB Museum into the studio of ornamentalist Georges Houtstont (1832-1912). Houtstont, a French artist, played a significant role in the interior decoration of the museum building, which formerly housed the Union du Crédit de Bruxelles bank, as well as the Governor's Mansion. Despite his artistic talent, Houtstont's name is not widely recognized, mainly because many of his decorative sculptures remain unsigned. However, his contributions to Brussels' architectural and urban history are notable. After arriving in Belgium in 1859, he decided to make it his permanent home. His early works, including the Congress Column and the Governor's Mansion, remain remarkable and continue to be admired to this day. These prestigious projects opened the doors to other notable commissions in Brussels, such as the Palace of Justice, the Anspach fountain, the Centre for Fine Arts, the Royal Palace, the Royal Conservatory, and the Castle of Laeken.
The visual identity of the exhibition strikes a balance between the classical subject matter and the scenography. An image of one of Houtstont's ornaments played a crucial role in the communication materials. Ornaments, decorative elements added to buildings, often function as repeating patterns created using molds. Drawing inspiration from these ornaments, we developed a comprehensive visual identity centered around the idea of repetition and masks/molds, resulting in a clash of visual elements. This clash is also reflected in the use of two contrasting typefaces for this project.