Folch designs a typeface embodying the “energetic universe” of acid house

The studio’s senior designer tells us about a new venture into education, Acid House, and the typeface designed for the project’s communications.

11 December 2019

In September of this year, Barcelona-based studio Folch opened Acid House, a new creative hub for the city, in alliance with Vice Media and Elisava, University School of Design and Engineering of Barcelona. The idea: to propose a new educational model, and a business-oriented way of understanding design.

“I always think an agency or creative studio looks a bit like a jewellery boutique, you do not go in unless you really want to buy something,” says Folch’s partner and COO Rafa Martínez. “So, instead of creating a Folch headquarters, we decided to create something that could interact openly in a new way with many brands and talented people from around the world, breaking the rules and turning the classical idea of a business on its head.” Acid House, in turn, is a space that functions as the “intersection between creativity, education, music, art and business,” located in Barcelona’s creative neighbourhood, Poblenou.

A major motivation for this new space was an observation that education, as we have formulated it to be, is no longer working. “For many years education has been based on a model that splits knowledge and skills into different disciplines, apparently unrelated to each other,” Rafa continues. “Nowadays, you need to connect all dots, to understand the complexity of the communications environment and the endless possibilities available. So, according to this new paradigm, we aim to combine expertise from a variety of creative fields for a more holistic and contemporary educational model.”

From spring 2020, this will mean the launch of two new programmes: The postgraduate in New Narratives, designed by Vice Media, Folch and Elisava, and the postgraduate in Blanding, designed by Folch and Elisava. The first, “gives participants the opportunity to develop their skills in filmmaking, writing, and strategy,” while the latter “aims to go beyond the current framework of visual identity, based on the idea that brands need to be able to shift strategically to ever-changing environments, platforms and audiences, encouraging students to develop creative solutions to speculative future scenarios.”


Folch: Acid Grotesk

In conjunction with the launch of the space, Folch has, of course, designed an identity which embodies the visionary ideas of Acid House, a major part of which is its custom typeface, Acid Grostesk. This typeface, Josep Puy, the studio’s senior designer explains, stems from the Acid House concept and so it would have been “easy to fall into a psychedelic typographic display with complex shapes,” but instead the team has created a “functional typeface capable of working both in headlines and in texts.” That’s not to say it’s without any playfulness, however. In keeping with the lively spirit of the brand, Acid Grotesk features various alternative characters, allowing it to generate a diverse language using only one typeface.

Featured within the space, on its website, posters, books, and any other printed matter, Josep describes the visual qualities of Acid Grotesk: “The personality of this typeface resides in its smooth curves and rounded vertex, characteristics that represent the more fluid, rounded principles of Acid House Barcelona. A robust yet playful sans-serif, the great x-height and the lowercase capitals give it a very compact character. Without alternates, the typography set has a relatively classic look. It can be elaborated with OpenType features and different stylistic alternates to add extra personality. One of the alternates, for example, gives all symbols and diacritics a thin weight for use in display applications.”

Most notably, the typeface’s personality is bolstered by the inclusion of a smiley face. A direct reference to the genre of music the project takes its name from, the idea to include it came during the creative process when the team was “thinking about the icon and what it represents for the public imagination.” In turn, acid house is embedded within the very language used to communicate Acid House’s programmes and personality. On this, Josep concludes: “Acid House Barcelona aims to be a pioneer in its field: hybrid, undefined, agile. Beyond the smiley, we wanted to devote Acid House Barcelona to the entire genre of acid house, embracing the famous visual identity as well as the abstract, fluid, energetic universe it belongs to.”

GalleryFolch: Acid Grotesk

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About the Author

Ruby Boddington

Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor.

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