by Zohra KhanSep 08, 2022
London is red. Not just in chants of Arsenal FC but in the history of the city that lives and lies in red. From the uniforms of grenadier guards, the roundel symbol of the tube, pillar boxes of mail to the famous phone booths, red has always been a part of London. This association of the colour to the past, present and future of the city was the driving force for London-based multi-disciplinary design studio Pentagram in creating the graphic identity for London Design Festival 2022. Arising from the question, "Can we create a visual theme that shows the community?" Domenic Lippa, one of the partners of the creative agency, envisioned the visual language for the 20th anniversary of London Design Festival as a coded repetition in red. While acknowledging and contemplating the trends of graphic design and typology, Pentagram has been creating graphics identities for LDF since 2008. For the anniversary edition of the logo, Lippa and team present an "ebb and flow of 2 and 0", marrying technology and graphic design in the animated quality of visuals.
Within a design brief that hasn't changed over the years, the intention was to always create an impact through the colour of London, one which would speak to different communities of their roots and one which would introduce visitors to the staunch times of the city. Adding to this transformation within the social sphere and the ascendency of technology in graphic design, for the first time, the graphic identity of LDF adopts parts of this mastery in visual quality. In retrospect, all the past graphic identities of LDF created by Pentagram holds true to the brief’s requirement to create impact through colour. Among them are the 2013 brand identity vocalising, 'Design is Everywhere' and LDF 2021 three-dimensional typographic identity. In 2017, the creative agency paid homage to "the uniqueness of London’s unlikely urban beauty" with playful neon signs. Although presented in various forms and presentations, red and white have been a constant factor.
The brief hasn’t changed but the environment of the society has. – Domenic Lippa
Along with the logo, this year, which marks 20 years of the design event, witnesses the publication of a limited edition collectors book. Designed by Pentagram, the book looks into the last two decades of LDF from a visual narrative of design. The book encompasses 60 LDF projects from the last 20 years by designers such as Es Devlin, John Pawson, Yinka Ilori and the late Zaha Hadid. Glimpses of the book reveal that the festival's inception was concocted by Sir John Sorrell and Ben Evans (CBE) over a dinner table. The book further dives into Sorrell’s speech at the Globe Theatre in 2002 where he introduced the festival to the city with a reference from the prologue of The Alchemist, a play by Ben Jonson, Our scene is London. While tracing the beginning of the festival, to the celebration that it is now, the book encircles LDF as an identity for not just the artistic and contemporary face but as a part of London seen beyond venues, centres, and halls, in the streets of the city with many folklores of time and thought.
In a conversation with STIR, Domenic Lippa, partner at Pentagram, talks about the graphic identity, the book and his experience of being a part of LDF.
Sunena V Maju: How would you describe your association with the London Design Festival over the last 16 years?
Domenic Lippa: It has been a collaboration between Sir John Sorrell, Ben Evans and myself. I have known John since 1988 and Ben since 1998. We are friends so the process is very much between us all.
Sunena: What would be an identity, other than the colour, which was consistently kept in the visual language of the logos for the London Design Festival over the years?
Domenic: When Ben and John asked me for my point of view with the festival and what I would do with it I said from the beginning that they should own red. It's been commented on many times that it is the colour of London. But it is their original colour. Vince Frost designed the main logo and I feel I have always been working on it from this starting point. So we mustn't describe colour as an arbitrary element - I believe it's the heart of the identity. This then allows us to change the visual identity each year as we have a great logo and a consistent colour - every year we then reinvent the identity.
Sunena: Could you tell us a little about the graphic identity for LDF 2022?
Domenic: Each year the whole team works on ideas when we begin in January. Because the identity really needs to punch through London's visual clutter, many of our ideas are bold. However, this year we liked the idea of the community of designers in numerous different disciplines that exist in London. We also wanted to focus on this being our 20th year but at the same time, 2022 is an important part of the idea. By combining the small 2022 to create a large 20 enabled us to reflect two ideas. We felt it was like a flock of birds that gather and fly together - a murmuration. We also liked that the idea translated well onto the many digital outputs we are increasingly working with.
Sunena: The limited edition collector’s book debuts on the 20th anniversary. Could you tell us about the book and your experience of bringing 20 years under a single title?
Domenic: This has been talked about for a few years - we just never had the time to focus on it. I have made some presentations to my partners at Pentagram over the last year and through discussions with John and Ben, we thought it would be the right time to try and pull some ideas together. However, we didn't want the book to look like anything from the 2022 campaign. It needed a simple confident idea. Over the years I have done a couple of projects where I have used an unbound format. We all knew we wanted to create something striking. A book that would really showcase the last 20 years of incredible collaborations between the festival and numerous artists, designers and architects. So in some ways, the book designed itself.
Sunena: One last question, beyond the role as a designer for LDF, what does the festival mean to you, Pentagram and the design community?
Domenic: I think it's important to be part of the design community in London. I have been involved with other organisations such as D&AD and the RSA. Also, I have been closely involved with the Typographic Circle for many years. But Pentagram has also been at the centre of the London design community so it felt like a natural event to align and support. I also love London. It's where I was born and live and work. It has an energy and dynamism that is unlike any city in the world. So I am proud that I and Pentagram are doing something in our hometown.
While the design festival returns to the capital of England on September 17, 2022, and runs till September 25, 2022, all eyes of the international design world are on London. Amid the events, design exhibitions and discussions at the 12 design districts, the Landmark Projects of the year are Dutch designer Sabine Marcelis' outdoor installation titled Swivel and INTO SIGHT by Sony Design. The Global Design Forum will discuss the role and impact of design to address the concerns of the current world. In a statement about this iteration of the LDF, festival director, Ben Evans CBE shares, "The design and creative sector in London and the UK has enjoyed a golden period this century. An extraordinary rush of ideas fed by a steady migration of world-class talent made London the global capital it now is. The London Design Festival both benefited from and helped enable that reputation. On our 20th anniversary, we want to take stock and move forward to ensure the Festival continues to support the design community, commissions and showcases new ideas, and reflects on the key issues from technology to sustainability to wellbeing so that the next 20 years are as fruitful as the past 20”.
Click here to know everything about London Design Festival 2022. Celebrating its 20th year, the festival takes over the city of London with installations, exhibitions, and talks from major design districts such as Brompton, Shoreditch Design Triangle, Greenwich Peninsula, Design London, Clerkenwell Design Trail, Park Royal, Mayfair, Bankside, King's Cross, William Morris Line, and Islington.