Unboxing the world of set design at The Old Vic Theatre, to make theatre more accessible for future generations.


Building on our partnership with London’s iconic Old Vic Theatre, we collaborated with Ben the Illustrator to create an interactive microsite that helps to educate future generations on set design. You can explore the site here.

What is a model box?

A model box is an essential piece of kit for any creative stage designer. Think of it as a hand-made diorama that allows stage designers to place and plan elements on a smaller scale before dialling it up to real life and life-size props and people. This process allows designers to really get the best out of varying theatre spaces.

Digitising an analogue craft

One of the joys of the model box is its tactile nature. We wanted to find a way to translate this analogue craft into the digital realm in a way that retains its inherent charm.

To bring the model box to life in a digital space, we tried to capture the different types of stage designs in a way that is akin to the real-world theatre. This involved us defining and developing the way these stages could be experienced digitally; through interactions, perspective, styling, colour, and motion. The four types of stage design we focused on are: black-box, proscenium, open-air, and thrust.

Image shows a collage of model boxes

Differentiation through colour

We evolved the brand colour palette to allow us to allocate each stage type its own colour scheme: a regal palette of purples for thrust stage; rich reds and maroons to up the intimacy for Blackbox; earthy green tones for Open Air; and blues for Proscenium to reflect backstage lighting.

This helped to create differentiation between the stage types and in turn, improve accessibility through contrast across different hues.

Picture shows colour palette used for the Model Box microsite

Inspired by history

Whilst a lot of the content was visual, we needed a method to display long-form copy in an interesting and accessible way; whilst of course retaining the iconic Old Vic branding.

For this, we looked back to old school theatrical playbills for inspiration. Here, copy is displayed with a hierarchy that makes it easy to read and pull out key bits of information.

Collage shows old school Playbills that inspired our design for The Old Vic Model Box project

The Set Designer perspective

Outside of the Model Box, there are various other items at the set designer’s disposal during the creative process; including the script and even the tools required to make the model box and its contents. To recreate the feeling of being in the designer’s chair, we flipped the perspective to a bird’s eye view of the desk: with all the various tools and equipment laid out in front of them ready to start creating.

Image shows a birds' eye view of a desk - part of our work for Old Vic Theatre Model Box project
We chose to work with Fiasco a second time as we had really enjoyed our previous collaboration. They brought creativity and fun to the project and took time to understand what we wanted to offer our users. We would definitely recommend working with Fiasco!
Magid El-Bushra – Digital Content Producer

With thanks The Old Vic for entrusting us with another microsite and being a joy to partner with. Particular thanks goes to Magid, Euan and Emily. Big thanks as well to Ben the Illustrator for doing such a good job with the illustration.

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