Ilhas Studio’s tri-colour identity for a video art festival visualises notions of time

For Portugal’s Fuso festival, the Lisbon-based studio sought a design system that showed the boldness of the programme but didn’t overshadow the films.

22 November 2023


Fuso is Portugal’s one and only video art festival, held annually in Lisbon and São Miguel in the Azores. Running since 2009, the festival screens daring, experimental films in unexpected places – like gardens and museum cloisters – and for the past two years Ilhas Studio has been tasked with designing its visual look. The studio cherishes the project, but it also requires a great deal of thought, as the studio has to signal the boldness of all the films showing, while also creating a graphic world that allows them to stand out.

Ilhas are a natural choice for the project, as its founders have a long-lasting love for film. Both Margarida Rêgo and Catarina Vasconcelos concluded their Master’s at the Royal College of Art in 2014 with short films, with Maragrida’s A Caça Revoluções premiering at Quinzaine de Realisateurs in Cannes and Catarina’s film Metáfora ou a tristeza virada do avesso premiering at the Cinema du Reel at the Pompidou Centre in Paris. This knowledge and understanding of the cinematic world has led them to work on film-based projects since they started Ilhas ten years ago, creating posters, credits and more. “We feel the wonder and honour of being able to create what is often someone’s first contact with a film, its gateway: the poster,” Margarida says.


Ilhas Studio: Fuso 2023 (Copyright © Ilhas Studio, 2023)

The studio first worked on the Fuso project back in 2022, when it delved into the meaning of the festival’s title. In Portuguese, “fuso” (which translates to “spindle” in English) has multiple meanings: an instrument for spinning; the piece on which the rope of clocks is wound; the vertical piece in the centre of a spiral staircase; and also it’s the word for each of the 24 imaginary divisions of the earth’s surface in the shape of a geometric spindle.

It was this final meaning of “a time zone and of an invisible division of the world” that piqued Margarida and Catarina’s interest. “Films are works in which time is fundamental: without time there are no films,” Margarida says. “Without it how would their frames per second be counted?” From these initial thoughts, the pair came up with the idea of the oval structure that replaces the ‘o’ in Fuso. In the 2022 identity, the oval was divided into time zones; however, this year the oval was used more liberally, repeated and filled in throughout the designs. For the festival, the studio always makes two core posters, one with a more graphic approach – this time featuring a pattern reminiscent of screen static – and one that features stills from a featured film. This time round, the still was taken from Charles Atlas’s You Are My Sister (Turning), the artist whose work was highlighted in the festival’s historical session.

The colour palette throughout is a simple yet effective black-and-white scheme, punctuated with a bright – almost neon – yellow, and the typeface used throughout is the variable Sequel Sans from Oliver Jeschke, a “solid and powerful” yet “delicate” font, which works perfectly across the various media (posters, programmes and website). Altogether the identity is punchy – taking a simple shape and using it as a reference, frame and metaphor, to create something that celebrates the unique world of video art.

GalleryIlhas Studio: Fuso 2023 (Copyright © Ilhas Studio, 2023)

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Ilhas Studio: Fuso 2023 (Copyright © Ilhas Studio, 2023)

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About the Author

Olivia Hingley

Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English Literature and History, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.

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