Creating something to serve two purposes can often lead to sacrifices being made, however, Tristesse’s latest project sees posters that are just as impactful when moving as when still.
“Our basic motivation was to design photographic posters that you would not expect at first sight to be moving posters too. This means that the printed product should not suffer from the fact that the poster is also available as a moving poster and vice versa,” says Gregor Brändli, co-founder of Basel-based design studio, Tristesse. “Often you can see posters that have been artificially infused with movement at the end of the process, or animations that do not work for print products that are only for social media and small screens.”
The project was commissioned by the Basel Sinfonietta, an orchestra specialising in “Neue Musik.” Reflecting their modern approach, they wanted “their drive for innovation to also be noticeable on the visual level,” explains Samuel Steinmann, the other half of the Tristesse founding duo. “We wanted to visually burst the intellectual space of the orchestra in order to address audiences away from a typical classical orchestra audience. The advertorial content, in the posters and brochures, should not be hidden behind the design but should be exaggerated. In doing so, we orientated ourselves on sale posters from retailers or propaganda posters from the 20s.”
Samuel also explains how the framing was of particular importance when considering the multiple uses of the poster, requiring one that was universally applicable to different designs and formats. “In addition, we were looking for a frame to bring the different contents and sources into unity, meaning we were effectively working with a frame that remains flexible in both its form and colour.”
GalleryTristesse: Basel Sinfonietta
It was thinking about the process as a whole rather than designing two separate pieces of work that allowed the work to stay cohesive throughout a variety of formats. “Since moving content is perceived more strongly on social media, we concentrated early on ensuring that the individual designs function well in motion, rather than designing a print product that ultimately needs to be given movement,” says Gregor.
Tristesse, which was founded back in 2018, combines the range of skills of founders Gregor and Samuel, with Julian Bauer, who became a partner in 2019. Gregor has a background in film and photography and won the culture award for the City of Basel in 2013. Whilst on the other side, Samuel and Julian are designers by trade, showing a mixture of skill sets that explains the success of this latest project.
“By overlapping our main fields of graphic design, film and photography, we have developed an approach that is strongly derived from the idea of dramaturgy,” explains Julian. “We try to break out of the graphic canon, but from time to time we also like to indulge in the good old Swiss Style. What is more important to us than a specific, creative style is the approach, which is strongly influenced by film and storytelling.“
The variations in style, and nods to classic Swiss design can be seen when comparing the Sinfonietta work to some of their other recent projects. “Although we feel like we have a recognisable style, we try to create something new with every project,” explains Gregor.
Their posters for the Institute for Art & Design Education and the Young Talent Award for Photography show this diversity of style and processes. The former, for instance, is based on an exploration of forms and objects that relates to the history of the field, whereas the latter is much more process-driven: “It's certainly one of the few examples where a formal examination was more important than storytelling and style,” says Julian.
They also stress the importance of colour in their work, which on reflection is noticeable in each piece. Bold combinations are central to many of their recent projects, in particular in the Sinfonietta. “Colour works well for genre thinking and storytelling, whereas black and white designs often focus on formal examination,” says Samuel. “Colour is very emotional and with colour combinations, associations arise very quickly, which one can shy away from in order to remain neutral.”
With their range of backgrounds, it is unsurprising that the Tristesse team have a number of other things they are involved with – most notably a sports club (Fortuna Tristesse). Working with orchestras and sports simultaneously is quite a unique position, and ultimately pays testament to their eclectic tastes and interests. “We admire designers and artists who look beyond the pond of their field,” says Gregor. “Those who have the quality standards of a sushi master and still like to play a match of nine-pin bowling in the basement of a schnitzel restaurant.”
Tristesse: Basel Sinfonietta
About the Author
Charlie joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in December 2019. He has previously worked at Monocle 24, and The Times following an MA in International Journalism at City University. If you have any ideas for stories and work to be featured then get in touch.