Oftentimes, design and identity for children or family products and brands, still seem to centre adults. It’s fair enough, as adults are the ones forking out for the experience or product, but could the industry stand to benefit from a design approach that has more of a balance? For the past four years, Paris-based designer and founder of Playground Paris Valentin Adam has been designing for the Louis Vuitton Foundation’s Family Festival with this very thing in mind. With a series of lively and nature-esque characters, almost like colourful insects, he reflects the energy of the two-day outdoor event in its third year. “I always try to make my designs funny, even if the subject is not supposed to be. That’s why our studio is called Playground; a place to have fun.”
Before coming to graphic design, Valentin’s practice was wrapped up in designing websites – leading him to his subsequent loves of motion and character design. Influenced by the shapes, characters and the compositions of graphic design from the 20s and 30s – chiefly Bauhaus – in this instance he opted to merge a geometric design with little legs, long legs and hats. He calls these characters “mascots,” inspired by the shapes often drawn by children to represent the human form. “I wanted it to be basic with a twist of colours, like the simplicity of Bauhaus meets with the craziness of Memphis,” he tells us. Also using the Jaune typeface (designed by Studio Triple) for the event title across banners, the event poster and sheets that kids would draw on, he was drawn to it for its mix of bold and round shapes “alongside a classic approach”. He adds: “For this third year, the main thing was to make the characters more fluid, like they’re dancing, creating a rhythm throughout the poster. Each one has a special move, and they all connect together, as if they are a family,” he adds.
Similar to the efforts of many museums around the world, the family festival was created with the aim to give access to the kids in the form of special visits to exhibitions and activities. But the scope of the festival doesn’t just encompass the physical building. Ran in partnership with local amusement park Le Jardin Acclimatation, Valentin took heed of the nature of the event in every facet of the design – from shrub-like illustrations alongside the characters on the posters to a prevalence of greens and blues throughout the project. “I knew it needed to be something colourful to represent it fully. At first I didn’t know exactly how to mix the kids’ universe with the museum’s approach, but then I realised it just had to be fun,” he tells us.
Above all, Valentin hopes that the kids attending the Family Festival enjoy the design and connect with the characters. “I use the same characters every year with the hopes that it will become a memory for them,” he tells us. Elated by the sight of his silver posters throughout the city, he reconnects to the purpose behind starting Playground in the first place: “I try to make people smile, and put them in a joyful mood, without it being inherently childish. I hope that everyone who sees it enjoys it.”
GalleryPlayground Paris: Family Festival 2023 Identity (Copyright ©Playground Paris 2023)
Playground Paris: Family Festival 2023 Identity (Copyright ©Playground Paris 2023)
About the Author
Yaya (they/them) is an editorial assistant at It's Nice That, with a particular interest in Black visual culture. They have previously written for publications such as WePresent, and worked as researcher and facilitator for Barbican and Dulwich Picture Gallery.