Manifesta 11 Visual Identity

Manifesta 11: Integral Ruedi Baur Develops Visual Identity


A new visual appearance for Manifesta 11 has been created by the renowned Swiss communication designer Ruedi Baur. In line with the theme of the exhibition, Baur has designed a flexible communication system that integrates the societal and political treatment of Manifesta 11’s artistic concept. Pictograms have been textually and stylistically developed for the 2016 Biennial in Zurich, and will be utilised as a complementary narrative device in communications.

Following on from St. Petersburg, the eleventh edition of the European Biennial of Contemporary Art takes place in Zurich from 11 June to 16 September 2016. The curator, Christian Jankowski, is exploring the interrelation of art, work and society under the theme of What People Do For Money: Some Joint Ventures, focusing on collaborations between artists and professionals from Zurich, and leading to the development of specific works for the Manifesta 11 in Zurich.

Each edition of Manifesta has featured a new design drafted by a renowned agency. Integral Ruedi Baur won the competition for the design and layout of the biennial’s visual appearance and has been developing the look of Manifesta 11 in Zurich since summer 2015. With Jankowski’s questions: ‘What is the subject’s relation to his/her profession?’ or ‘What are we working for, if not for money?’ functioning as a starting point for his design concept, Integral Ruedi Baur has explored the topic of ‘working‘ and based a flexible communication system on it.

‘Each edition of Manifesta is accompanied by a small narration on the topic of “working”’ notes Ruedi Baur when describing the concept. ‘The individual, visible narrations are brief snapshots of various working worlds in Zurich, which complement the artistic intentions of Manifesta 11. In their sum, these narrations represent a homage to Otto Neurath and provide an overview of working people in Zurich’.

The Formal Emphasis

In addition to an expressive and bold, specifically developed typography, the formal emphasis is mainly on the application of pictograms that integrate societal, political and social aspects related to the topic of ‘working’. The pictograms consciously relate to the artistic and sociological foundations of the ‘Isotype’ conceived by Otto Neurath and Gerd Arntz in the 1930s.

Clear Reduction to Black & White

Graphically, the system refrains from using colour and grabs the viewer’s attention through a deliberate reduction to black and white, which continues with clear, accessible language for floor plans and online navigation. Colour is not used until after the campaign has begun, with an application of photography that extends the system to a pictorial level and offers an atmospheric insight into Zurich’s working world – especially that of the joint venture partners, referred to as guests.

The Mirrored Logo

The logo of Manifesta 11 is constructed as a typogram based on the number one. Along with its mirror image, the number can be read both as ‘11’ and ‘M.’ In this way, the formal mirroring addresses the motif of critical (self-) reflection.

The Specific Typography

The logo and typogram of Manifesta 11 are based on the ‘Manifesta Grow’ font. The font, set up as a system by the Swiss font designers Dinamo, is one of the design’s central pillars. The original system of ‘Grow’ consists of several independent fonts, which can be combined in many different ways. Dinamo refined it, adding new characters especially for Manifesta in order to create ‘Manifesta Grow.’ Its inline structuring evokes associations to neon advertising, helping to develop its own signal effect.

The Multi-Faceted Figures

The second characteristic component is the use of pictograms or figures based on the theme of ‘working’, and set up as a system similar to the font. Employing the buildingblock principle, countless people can use it to portray their profession or combine it with others. This makes it possible to illustrate various situations, complex contexts or complicated processes in a visual and narrative fashion, thus making each tangible.

The figures, with their lines and abstractions, refer to individual aspects of the typography and begin both a content- and form-related dialogue between text and figures. Depending on the need or occasion, new compositions of text and figures are arranged or the figures formally stripped down. Used in large-scale images, they are part of the concept, in the form of clear symbols for the identification of the different event locations in the public space. With their characteristic abstract form, they represent both Manifesta 11 and the act of working itself.

Co-operation with the Berufsschule für Grafik

During the preparations for Manifesta 11, the graphics students at the Berufsschule für Gestaltung Zürich had the opportunity to experience a real-life CI/CD project. As part of a workshop on 25 January 2016, Ruedi Baur and his team offered the buildingblock systems of the pictograms to students so they could develop various figures and arrange their own scenes. The results can be seen on the Manifesta 11 website.

Ruedi Baur – Specialist for Visual Identity

The communication designer Ruedi Baur was born in Paris in 1956. After his studies at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Zurich, he opened his first workshop in Lyon, followed by his studio, Intégral Ruedi Baur, with locations in Paris and Zurich. As a specialist in the construction of visual identity, Baur has worked for renowned museums like the Louvre, the Musée Rodin and the Centre Pompidou. He also created the visual appearance and design for the 6th Swiss National Exhibition, Expo.02, and the Swiss National Museum in Zurich. As well as being involved in teaching and research activities at various institutions, he has published several books. The visual appearance for Manifesta 11 was developed in his studio in Zurich, where he currently works with a team of ten designers.

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