Glasgow International is Scotland’s largest festival for contemporary art, taking place across three weeks every two years. As a festival that places Glasgow in the international spotlight of the art world, it’s one that requires an identity which embodies the city’s personality and translates this on a global scale. For this year’s festival – Gi2018 – this responsibility fell to Kerr Vernon and Ed Watt of Glasgow-based studio, Cause & Effect.
Although both having worked in design for “as long as we can remember” Kerr and Ed only joined forces as Cause & Effect seven months ago, around the same time that they were pitching for the Gi2018 identity. “We both got the seven-year itch [from our current studios] and hooked up after Kerr put out a blog post on social media,” Ed recalls. Their identity for Gi2018, therefore, provided the chance to demonstrate the ethos, values and ambition of their new venture.
Making use of bright pink, yellow, green and purple, it’s the ubiquitous diamond which forms the basis of the identity. With its slightly concaved sides, it was originally derived from the tittle of the “i” in Lacuna, a typeface designed by Imogen Ayres, a graduate from Glasgow School of Art. In typography, the tittle refers to a small distinguishing mark, such as the dot on a lowercase “i” or “j”.
It was the fact “that it was born of the city and could represent a modern version of Glasgow” that made Lacuna the right choice for Cause & Effect’s design; “we deliberately set out to find that,” Ed adds. Rather than choose a typeface based on its aesthetic, it was this spirit that led to the pair’s reasoning. “Increasingly in branding – and especially with a festival like Gi which requires a lot of text-led communication – it makes sense for the typeface to carry a lot of the character and presence of an identity before you even get to colour and symbolism,” Kerr and Ed explain.
The diamond also functioned on another level, however, as a shape which often denotes something important; something to pay attention to. “The diamond shape is often used internationally in road warning signs or to signal important information,” Ed explains. “We also recognised the potential of the shape as markers on the maps and in wayfinding,” he adds. A lot of the festival identity is about guiding and directing people around this city, so this was a factor that needed to be carefully considered. Ultimately, “the idea of magnifying this tiny, beautiful detail up to huge proportions is the real hero behind this identity,” the pair remark.
Kerr and Ed’s colour scheme – as well as proving an obvious choice for an arts festival that celebrates diverse culture – answered the brief’s request to provide continuity with previous year’s identities. Despite largely taking place over three weeks, some of the festival’s events last through until October of this year (2018). “With a festival of this scale, there were a lot of outputs. A lot,” Cause & Effect recall. In addition to the brand and identity system, Kerr and Ed redesigned its website and created flags, banners, posters (and more posters), programme guides, mailers, clothing, tote bags and social media assets, to name a few. Both modern and elegant, Cause & Effect’s identity is accomplished and cohesive, not to mention a good sign of things to come from such a young studio.
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