Over the summer months, many festivals from music to the arts pop up over cities across the world. Each are branded individually and many end up looking similar following current design trends, but not when they’re designed by Swiss studio, Neo Neo.
This is due to a mantra the studio have adopted when working with La Bâtie, a two week festival dedicated to contemporary culture in Geneva. “We always try to communicate with an offbeat absurd tone using images that you wouldn’t usually use to promote cultural events.”
In 2015 Neo Neo used “fast food inspired graphics and mascots,” and the following year they reinvented the use of toothpaste in the identity, squiggling minty freshness atop sculptures and dogs. “We enjoy using nonsense to communicate,” Neo Neo tells It’s Nice That. “We think the target audience understand this kind of humour and don’t need to see descriptive images to want to go to the festival.”
2017’s edition is no different, taking a worldwide recognised motif, the smiley face, and applying it joyfully and cleverly. By multiplying the smiley — one that is more similar to the acid house emblem than an emoji — the designers recreated “weirdly framed” selfies by using smiling faces rather than dots.
The identity and thoughtfully funny design is applied across formats, from posters to programmes, pasted onto trams and even a pair of socks. The fonts applied by the studio include Helvetica in a rounded condensed bold, “it’s sensual and impactive,” the studio explains. The aesthetic is pushed further, combined by the studio with a century schoolbook monotype.
Applied on a millennial pink background, “a sensual second degree colour,” the whole design is a little tongue in cheek. By using selfies, an act impossible without a mobile phone, Neo Neo are inadvertently communicating the aim of the festival: “We used iconography of social networks, but the goal of the festival is actually the opposite of that: for a moment you quit using your smartphone and you meet people and have fun.”
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