Hvass & Hannibal’s identity for The Conference

Designers Nan Na Hvass and Sofie Hannibal have created a paintbox-themed visual identity for The Conference, a creative festival taking place in Malmö this summer.

Designers Nan Na Hvass and Sofie Hannibal have created a paintbox-themed visual identity for The Conference, a creative festival taking place in Malmö this summer.

Organised by Media Evolution, The Conference’s five-day programme includes two days of talks and a series of events exploring new technologies, creativity and human behaviour.

Hvass & Hannibal were asked to communicate the “human” element of the event and have designed a cheerful system using hand painted patterns and brightly coloured splashes of paint. The splashes have been applied to advertising, the event website and portraits of speakers.

“We wanted the design to signify a friendly, open, warm atmosphere,” explains Hvass. “The concept evolved around the fact that we knew we would incorporate a lot of photographs and especially portraits of all the speakers, so the idea was to create something that would work with photographs and be layered on top of portraits in varying ways, that would still be recognisable for the identity as a whole,” she explains.

Speaker portraits were generated online, but Hvass & Hannibal also set up a real photo booth in which visitors could pose with painted pieces of card and upload photos of themselves to Instagram.

“The portrait generator was initially an idea for creating a toolbox for us to handle all the different portraits that would be going on the website, so that we could create a unifying theme that would make the photos look good together instead of just being a collection of random photographs,” says Hvass. “For the launch of the website, we decided to make an analogue portrait generator…as a fun way to create a bit of social media interaction,” she adds.

Another key element of the identity system is the word The, which appears in bold italics on all communications. The conference was known in previous years as The Conference by Media Evolution, but Hvass & Hannibal shortened the name at the request of director Martin Thörnkvist, who felt it was “long and confusing”.

“When he saw one of our sketches in which we had put emphasis on and scaled up the word ‘THE’, he really liked it, and we decided that this was the way to go…to turn the disadvantage of the generic name into an advantage,” says Hvass.

Hvass & Hannibal designed The Conference website with Swedish studio Södra Esplanaden. The pair are also designing graphics for the event and a website promoting the conference’s host city and its residents.

“Another important part of the brief was to create awareness of how absolutely amazing a city Malmö is, which surprisingly few people know. This of course led to the idea of saying ‘The Malmö’, which then resulted in  themalmo.com — a site that tells stories of people and places in the city,” says Hvass.

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