Para Uma Bienal

With only weeks of notice the studio was invited to design the graphic identity and promotional materials for this cultural festival, planned as a 'rehearsal' for a larger Biennale taking place in 2012. It's often frustrating to have such limited time with which to develop visual solutions, especially when the possibilities appear to be rich but that's often the nature of professional work. Although the final result is not as developed – matured – as I would have liked, the basic concept has considerable potential for the 2012 event.

The Biennale focuses on 3 creative areas; Art, Design, and Architecture. It is not an urban event however. This may appear to be a strange comment and yet it has particular relevance. The philosophy that interested those responsible for the event was based on building and networking local communities, drawing on traditional as well as innovative ideas and skills, and on the concept of 'Slow Cities'. I wanted therefore to avoid what I might describe as 'the alienated aesthetic ', by which I mean the use of 'non-place' imagery, digital forms, and  'finger-on-the-pulse' typography common to many contemporary cultural events. Instead, I wanted something more human and that incorporated celebration – not a favoured characteristic of much 'serious' contemporary design.

Because of the many and varied exhibitions and activities incorporated within the event, the initial idea was to attempt to reflect this diversity through a series of large-format street newspaper posters (below left) rather than attempting to create a logo-type solution. The problem here was that many of the texts were still in the process of being written and without them the sort of typographic development and refinement needed was not possible using simulated texts. The idea was abandoned and a subsequent design was developed based on the use of the letter 'B' (for Biennale).  

The reasoning here is straightforward. It was to centre attention on the idea of a Biennale by putting the letter at the centre of the design, but with a twist. The letter would not always be rendered in the same way, it would vary, in an attempt to reflect the different sorts of Biennale it was possible to experience. In the final materials 4 different letter styles were used in different colour combinations. 

The saving grace of the work however is the potential to explore and play with this concept in the future. Central to the ethos of the event are the ideas of diversity, plurality and community. Many different sorts of letter 'B'' could be created. And they need not be typographic. They could be letter forms composed from 3 dimensional elements, they could be photographic or collaged, they could be created by schools and other participants. In short, any manner of 'B' could be created, each one a unique expression, each one reflecting a dimension of the Biennale. The ambition is to create an identity that has a repeating and recognisable visual element (the 'B'), but that is never the same. The way it changes, and the possibility is has to be changed, has the potential to be a dynamic reflection of diversity and of involving community participation.


Date October, 2010
Client Município de Viana do Castelo