Thonik’s ligature-led identity for Holland Festival

A new identity for the Holland Festival builds on its graphic history with a combination of stencil and ligature

A new identity for the Holland Festival builds on its graphic history with a combination of stencil and ligature

Founded in 1947, the Holland Festival is the oldest and largest performing arts festival in the Netherlands. Last year, Ruth Mackenzie took over as artistic director and has commissioned a new identiy from Thonik for her debut event in 2015.



As you might expect, as well as providing a showcase for Dutch artistic talent, the Festival has also provided a platform for the country’s graphic designers to shine. The posters produced each year are always a particular highlight (see Google image search results above). In 1995, Anthon Beeke introduced a new mark which removed some of the letters form the event’s name (see below).


This stripped back approach was taken to further extremes by Maureen Mooren and Daniel van der Velden with their 2005 mark which created an HF logo.


Using the Euclid Flex typeface, Thonik took the 2005 mark and created a ligature but, they say, “The first results of the ligature made graphic sense, but were illegible and unclear. More elements needed to be deleted for the full strength and clarity of the concept to shine. So, after joining everything together we needed to find a way to rip it back apart.”

The studio looked to Milton Glaser’s 1970 Stencil typeface for inspiration


Image: Identifont



Thonik then created a whole new typeface in collaboration with font foundry Bold Monday, which will be used in a palette of bright green, blue and pink, as demonstrated in these mock-ups.



Here’s Thonik’s films explaining more


Yes, we’ve seen a lot of stencils in wordmarks (Opera North and the Manchester International Festival are particular favourites) and we’ve also seen ligatures aplenty. Combining the two could have been a complete mess, but Thonik have pulled off something really striking here. Bits of it are a little awkward and it seems to work hold together better in colour than black and white (that venue treatment will be spectacular if they get to do it) but, personally, I like its awkwardness. It feels in keeping with the challenging nature of much of the festival’s content.

An arts festival allows for a greater degree of experimentation than a more sober client but that doesn’t necessarily make the job any easier. Looking forward to seeing it applied to more of the typically beautiful posters this event always seems to generate.





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