This was an exciting chance to do a live design brief for FACT’s upcoming exhibition Type Motion. We’d already seen the incredible work done by Smiling Wolf for the exhibition, so there was an underlying pressure to ensure we didn’t repeat any of their ideas.
The brief was to create a visual identity for the exhibition whilst keeping FACT's brand in mind. The identity had to seamlessly transform from print to digital platforms while attracting a target audience of film lovers and designers alike. We broke down the brief and decided that we particularly wanted to focus on translating the ‘movement’ of the work on display to communicate the creative diversity of the show.
To start, we researched all of the artists listed in the exhibition. Two particular pieces stood out for us, which were the Psycho (Saul Bass) and Alien (Richard and Robert Greenberg) title sequences. The simple use of lines to create dramatic animations sparked our inspiration and we decided the identity we would create should be rich in colour to grab the viewer's attention and reflect the medley of work on show.
At first we were sceptical about using gradients but after finding a beautiful, contrasting colour palette, everything came together. Our gradient shimmers with movement and has a bold, eye-catching identity which could be easily transferred from animation to exhibition merchandise.
We then wanted to find a way of communicating the heart of the show: the type. We chopped, split, reshaped and did everything else you can possibly do to a letter. Cutting up type using lines was our strongest idea as the words were still legible, implied movement and the pieces could be easily animated. This style also reminded us of the film reel - a nod to the cinematic work being shown in the exhibition. We wanted a font which would still read well when broken up and decided on Din Alternative, which also references the parent exhibition of Type Motion at ZKM, Germany.
With the elements of the design decided, we began to refine our creation. The gradient was left full-bleed so as to be striking and create a visual wall of movement, whilst the broken text was tuned down to keep the identity polished and simple. At first we left the words Type Motion quite legible, but felt this didn't communicate the energy of the exhibition, so we decided to make a series of posters with the elements of the title becoming more dispersed each time. This married well with the animation which we thought was crazily fun and full of life.
The music for the animation was especially hard to pick. We knew we wanted it to be instrumental, upbeat and techy, and after hours of listening we finally found a track which fit the bill. The animation itself was a laborious process; the gradient background is made up of thirty lines which had to be individually moved, but our hard work was definitely worth it to see the visual identity spring to life.
This project was definitely a favourite for us both, as it pushed us as designers. We kept asking questions to ensure the visual identity communicated the key elements of the brief, and watching our concepts evolve from sketchbook scribbles to final prints and animations was really satisfying. It was an enjoyable team project, and as we are good friends but had never worked together before, we found that our passion and obsession for detail pushed us both to create strong designs. We also received positive feedback which created a happy conclusion to the project!
How would you have changed the project?
Carmen Liu - “I loved every little detail of the idea but if there was an opportunity to work on it again I would consider the idea of designing a collection of invitations with different patterns on each one. The lines of the words Type Motion in the poster and video we created are split and spread apart, and this design could be printed across a few invitation cards so that when placed together they would form the words Type Motion".
Sana Iqbal “If I had more time I would have loved to experiment with foiling. Imagine the lined Type Motion title printed in silver foil against the colourful gradient background - the shine would have created an even more intense feeling of movement. I also had the idea of creating gradient tshirts as merchandise, so it would have been good to have had the time to physically create them rather than just their Photoshop concepts.”
The Type Motion exhibition features over 240 examples of writing used alongside the moving image and is at FACT until 8 February. Check out our exhibition mechandise, design by award-winning agency Smiling Wolf which is for sale on our online store!