Design studio RM&CO has produced some impressive work since launching earlier this year – including a sleek new identity for Swiss music and culture festival Gwenstival.
Gwenstival is held in Chiasso, Switzerland each April and is organised by independent radio station Gwendalyn, which was set up in 2005 with the aim of playing music that other FM stations wouldn’t. Now in its fourth year, the Gwenstival programme includes poetry, live music performances and one-off radio shows.
RM&CO produced fly posters, viral videos and merchandise to promote the event and designed the programme and Gwenstival website.
The identity was inspired by Radio Gwen’s move from online to FM for the duration of the festival and is based on the concept of interrupted frequencies, says RM&CO co-founder Pete Rossi. “It’s all about disruption – an interference in the region’s normal frequencies,” he adds.
Promotional material combines crisp sans type and a black, white and pink colour scheme with distorted images taken from an old CRT television screen.
Viral videos also use images from the CRT screen: one displays only flickering static and another (below), scenes from a ballet performance. The classical soundtrack is interrupted by frequency hums and crackles and the video offers little explanation of the event – just its name, Radio Gwen’s frequency and a link to the festival website.
“It was all designed to look quite grainy and pixellated which also reflects the underground nature of Gwendalyn and the festival,” adds Rossi.
It’s a simple but clever concept, thought up by RM&CO co-founder and creative director on the project, Alfio Mazzei.
“We had a lot of creative control over the identity and were pretty free to experiment but as Radio Gwen is funded by grants and donations, we had a tiny budget. Alfio’s idea was cheap and easy to do, but a really strong concept – we would have done it even if we had £20,000 to spend,” says Rossi.
RM&CO has offices in London, Glasgow and Balerna, Switzerland – Rossi, who heads up the Glasgow office, is Glaswegian and Mazzei, director of the Balerno office, grew up in southern Switzerland. The company’s London branch is directed by brand strategist and former head of communications at Graff Diamonds, Josephine Dunn.
Dunn, Rossi, Mazzei and designer Sam Laverick (also based in Glasgow) collaborate on each project, holding regular meetings in the UK and Switzerland, while the local creative director takes day-to-day creative control.
Since launching in January, the studio has designed identities, websites, logos and books for charities, photographers, artists and retailers, including a beautifully produced catalogue and invites for In Pursuit of the Question Mark, a retrospective of Scottish artist George Wyllie’s work which was awarded an In-Book at the D&AD awards:
And a striking custom typeface, Utopia, for Swiss literary festival Eventi Letterari.
They’ve also released an annual newspaper showcasing selected projects printed by Newspaper Club:
And are working on a handmade campaign for Poster for Tomorrow’s fifth annual competition inviting the design community to submit posters highlighting social issues. This year’s theme is A Home for Everyone and entrants have been asked to submit work to raise awareness of homelessness.
For its entry, RM&CO designed hand painted doormats and placed them in cities including London and Glasgow. The doormats feature common phrases such as “Welcome”, “Home” and “Wipe Your Feet” in bold black lettering.
At first glance, they look like normal doormats but these traditional phrases are accompanied by smaller type – messages become warnings to take notice of homelessness such as “Don’t take your home for granted” and “Don’t wipe your feet with the homeless”.
“The doormat is an instantly recognisable symbol of home. It’s also taken for granted –when people come home from a day at work and wipe their feet at the door, they rarely think about how many people can’t do that simple act because they don’t have a home,” says Rossi.
“It’s been a great project to work on because we’re really interested in created socially engaging designs – ones that people can interact with and that make them take notice.”
RM&CO has so far been awarded by Red Dot Germany, D&AD and the Art Director’s Club (Rossi received a Young Gun Award in 2011). and its portfolio includes a range of styles and projects.
“Someone once asked me why our work looks like it was done by 40 different studios. But why is that a bad thing? We don’t want to only use Helvetica and create a series of pretty pieces of eye candy. We want to create work that is more interesting than that – the idea and the process behind a project is as important as the finished result, and we want to create timeless, memorable designs.”
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The July issue of Creative Review is a type special, with features on the Hamilton Wood Type Museum, the new Whitney identity and the resurgence of type-only design. Plus the Logo Lounge Trend Report, how Ideas Foundation is encouraging diversity in advertising and more.