“Graphic design’s most extraordinary work is often the result of amazing partnerships between client and designer,” explains Nuno Fontes. Heading up his own multi-disciplinary studio in the small Portuguese town of Santa Maria Da Feira, for Studio Nuno, it is essential that “every project in our studio starts with dialogue.”
Whether the dialogue results in an agreement or otherwise, the designers deeply value the client’s mindset and ambitions with the hopes of syncing together to create the best results possible. For Studio Nuno Fontes, “This dialogue results in a definitive conceptual framework and a territory to explore,” the managing designer tells It’s Nice That. “We never start a project with a fixed idea of what the visual outcome might be.” Therein lies the zeal of the work: Nuno sees “design as a way of discovering something” through the exploration of multiple perspectives and the organisation of ideas.
With a creative mantra of “zoom in and zoom out”, the designers embark on a process that is often unpredictable but satisfying. Nuno shares three projects with us, Lucity, Industry 4.0 and GEFAC, which demonstrates the studio’s care for concept and design feeling; but this “doesn’t mean that [they] don’t have a particular taste for clean typography and orderliness.”
In Lucity, the studio design a campaign for an art mobility programme that produces light installations in a public space. In this instance, the installation took place in Fernando Távora Municipal Market, named after the renowned Portuguese modernist architect and, as a result, the designers base the campaign on the iconic Portuguese tile that adorns many of the country’s buildings, as well as the market itself. “The drawing of the tile is very simple; a square divided in half. Half full, half empty, half light and half dark,” says Nuno. “It seemed like the perfect metaphor for the nature of the event so we used it to define the grid that structures the information, and also as a way to evoke light and dark. It switches between negative, and positive space – lights on, lights off.”
Alternatively, in Industry 4.0, Studio Nuno Fontes designed the identity for a conference promoted by the business platform Bizfeira. Addressing the theme of industry, the designers create a responsive typographic element that resembles an industrial robotic arm. “The selected colour palette and the mechanical properties of this typographic element suggests the cold and fully automated environment of modern industry’s production lines” which Bizfeira explored at the conference.
Lastly, in the third project, Nuno creates the identity for a cultural programme celebrating the 16th edition of the Conference of Popular Culture. Coinciding with the 50th anniversary for the Group of Ethnography and Folklore of Coimbra Academy, the designers produce a bespoke alphabet and graphic elements for the visual identity, influenced by pieces of traditional Portuguese tapestry. Hinting to the country’s rich heritage of craft, the designers successfully fabricate a “musical and folkloric visual mood.” Recreating the nimble manufacturing process of tapestry into typography, Nuno explains how they used “a fine grid to create the typeface as well as lay out information across the entire campaign.”
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.