Plant, a multidisciplinary art direction and design studio based between Reykjavik and São Paulo, has rebranded Modernista, a local Brazilian production company. Led by the studio’s founders Bruno Oppido and João Linneu, the team carried out a complete overhaul of the identity, retaining its original spirit but offering a fresher, more grounded alternative.
“Upon approaching Plant, Modernista's original brand heavily drew inspiration from the Bauhaus movement, featuring primary solid colours, simple geometric shapes, and avant-garde typeface,” explains Paula, project and resource manager at Plant. “However, even before the briefing session, Plant's designers realised that whatever they would do, they needed to depart from the conventional Bauhaus interpretation of modernism. It wouldn't make sense for a Brazilian company to smell like a German one.”
Upon agreeing this direction with Modernista, the team at Plant began research into how they could bring a “distinct Brazilian flair” into the equation. The answer, they found, was ‘Tropicalia’ — a notable cultural movement in Brazil that encompasses music, film, visual art and theatre. Plant viewed this movement as the country’s answer to European Modernism, and as such they endeavoured to borrow its aesthetic approaches and apply this to Modernista’s new identity.
The result is branding that leans heavily on Brazilian vernacular design, taking the forms, colours and symbols of products such as ‘Groselha Vitaminada Milany’ (a popular Gooseberry syrup soft drink) and ‘Bala Chita Abacaxi’ (a typical Pineapple candy) and reimagining them in the context of a production studio. “Some of these products were family businesses, and their packaging was often created without professional assistance,” explains Paula. “We cherished this vernacular essence and aimed to preserve it in our execution of lockups, as well as utilising techniques like silkscreen and stencils that would create this human feeling.”
Meanwhile motion graphics were created to bring to life the various vibrant elements in the identity. These were kept simple, to ensure that they aligned with the source material. Typefaces were also chosen based on their ubiquity in traditional Brazilian product branding. The primary font, Akzidenz-Grotesk, was used frequently throughout the 20th Century for advertising, posters and other items, and as such was the right fit for the job. “It possessed a historical quality that perfectly suited the aura of Modernista,” adds Paula.
Though the Plant team would ideally have used “no software at all” for this project, opting for an exclusively analogue approach, the finished result still feels notably handmade, grounding it in the quotidian world that served as its inspiration. Beyond analogue photography and videos shot on “a mini cam from the dawn of digital cameras”, the designers also spent much time developing DIY aspects of the branding. “Duda Camargo, one of the designers at Plant, dedicated weeks to manually copying and pasting letters at home,” says Paula. “We take great pride in the fact that the flag we produced was entirely handmade by Duda, without relying on a print-on-demand service for its execution. We are delighted with the achieved "texture" and the overall low-fi aesthetic we were able to capture.”
GalleryPlant: Modernista (Copyright © Plant, 2023)
Plant: Modernista (Copyright © Plant, 2023)
About the Author
Daniel joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in February 2019 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. He graduated from Kingston University with a degree in Journalism in 2015. He is also co-founder and editor of SWIM, an annual art and photography publication.