Etnohaus’ identity is a powerful example of the benefits of collective, thoughtful and inclusive design

Canvasing collective opinion to drive their design decisions, Etnohaus’ identity utilises design as a way to communicate several voices.

9 June 2020


Etnohaus, a creative centre located in the south zone of Rio de Janeiro where “everyone is welcome”, has received a graphic design lick of paint from a collective group of designers. Directed by Leandro Assis, Paula Cruz, Nícolas Martins and Eduardo Massá, each contributor appears to be driven by their sheer love of Etnohaus, and a want to “communicate in a way that is welcoming to anyone who had been occupying the space or invited to enter.” The identity project also sets the tone for the first of many collaborative projects, marked with “the same footprint involving music, diversity, and design – a thing that was very common inside the group,” Leandro and Paula tell It’s Nice That.

In turn, the team’s brief was to “create a visual identity that translates this message of art, freedom and no hierarchy within the group,” the duo explain. This meant the project began by canvasing a large opinion, particularly as “Everyone has a voice and takes part in the process of the house, concerts and planning,” say Leandro and Paula. “So, one of the big challenges of Etnohaus’ project was to create a symbol that summarises all these feelings and, moreover, has one single opinion among all these artists.”

The result is an identity which draws on the characteristics and personality of Etnohaus as a building, but also places it within a wider context. At its core, it considers how the centre hosts artists from all over Brazil and globally meaning “the colours had to accompany all this diversity”. This led the team to decide on a clear palette relating to Brazil, “without getting too cliché” and experimenting with a range of tones to harmonise with one another graphically. The carefully chosen palette was then applied to a logo described by Leandro and Paula, as “a talk wheel”. The letters which make up Etnohaus’ name are carefully placed to make a circular shape, a visual representation for “all the minds behind the creation and development that took place within the project,” ultimately making a whole.

GalleryEtonhaus identity

The logo also led the identity into being a “very typographic project”, centring around three specific typefaces: Local Gothic, GT Walsheim (used for smaller texts) and Basis Grotesque. Each of these were chosen for thoughtful for reasons too and not just aesthetic value. For instance, “the choice of Local Gothic by Schwartzco was for its creation history, which had much to do with the history of the Etnohaus itself,” say Leandro and Paula. Even very specific choices such as what font to use was a decision made with the wider group in mind. The duo point out a consistent consideration for the team, ensuring “everything had to be very simple for anyone to edit,” and therefore these fonts were chosen for the ability “to put personality into every single character in any word you write.”

With this decided, the team then had to apply the logo and colour palette to several different applications. This again meant finding a balance between a design outlook that is as “bold and colourful as the artists that play in the space,” but at the same time, something relatively straightforward as it would be the Etnohaus team implementing the designer’s directions. And going forward, there would be “no designer involved”. Consequently, a series of layouts with placeholder text and image packaged up for use for anyone was borne. “A great example of this is the business card: black ink, printed in the coloured paper in a home printer and the logo is marked with a wooden stamp.”

All in all Etnohaus' identity success lies within its team collective efforts, their consciousness and their ability to utilise design to drive this message forward.

GalleryEtonhaus identity

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About the Author

Lucy Bourton

Lucy (she/her) is the senior editor at Insights, a research-driven department with It's Nice That. Get in contact with her for potential Insights collaborations or to discuss Insights' fortnightly column, POV. Lucy has been a part of the team at It's Nice That since 2016, first joining as a staff writer after graduating from Chelsea College of Art with a degree in Graphic Design Communication.

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