The biannual festival of graphic design is eagerly anticipated with its extensive programme of commissioned work and carefully planned blend of public and professional events.
Design.nl speaks to Dennis Elbers, creative director GDFB about the festival.
Can you tell us about some highlights of the 2012 festival?
‘It took a lot of work to realize our extensive lecture programme. 60 International designers share their inspiration over the festival period. A nice touch is that the lectures are taking place in two old churches, Lutherse Kerk and Waalse Kerk. We're proud to present a mix of young talent and some rising stars. We try to programme the best you never heard of instead of the usual suspects. 50% of the festival is based on newly commissioned work.
‘It will be great to finally see Social Signals - 120 flags that Trapped In Suburbia has spent all summer designing. We're also pretty excited about the Small Stories Bigger Picture exhibition, which was co-curated by Sven Ehmann, creative director at the Berlin-based publisher Gestalten.’
Why did the festival decide to become 5 days instead of a longer period as before?
‘We wanted to increase the festival feel for the audience. Make it worthwhile spending a couple of days in Breda. Not just to see stuff, but to really be part of it and to meet like-minded people. A compact set up (time and place) offers other opportunities for programming a festival. Focusing on inspiration and participation, we're now able to present 60 out of our 155 participants live on stage and offer multiple workshops. Combine this with exhibitions, portfolios session and parties and, voila, a perfect festival programme.’
In advance of the festival, GDFB commissioned 45 designers to produce a poster on the theme ‘Greed is out, empathy is in’ and these posters will be exhibited in the Castle Square of Breda over the five days of the festival. In addition, there was an open call worldwide to designers to submit work and the GDFB jury chose 5 overall winners and 3 personal favorites – these works will also be on show.
Can you tell us more about the open call poster competition?
‘We are always on the look out for talent. Online, when visiting exhibitions or art schools - but talent can be everywhere. So why not get in touch with our followers to see what they are capable of? We think it fits contemporary society to involve the (committed) audience in the way the festival evolves.’
Can you tell us about the winning entries? Why did you choose them?
‘We were surprised by the number of entries and the places they came from. A lot of good stuff came our way. The jury (Breda-based design duo Staynice and design eminence Henk Cornelissen) viewed each poster without being aware of the makers, eliminating any form of bias. Generally, the jury was very impressed by the quality of the entries; Frans de Waal’s statement (Greed is out, empathy is in) was visualized in surprisingly diverse and original ways.
‘It was remarkable how many designers use the poster medium to interact directly with the viewer by adding both physical and virtual layers. After much deliberation the jury unanimously chose five winners. What they noticed was that the posters tell a small story about the larger theme. The winning designers are not trying to depict the entire theme in general, but have chosen to visualize a small story to show the larger picture. Because of the large amount of submissions each juror also selected a personal favourite, resulting in a total eight winners.’
And the overall goal for this year's festival?
‘We hope our professional visitors leave Breda with an inspiration overflow after seeing great works and talks, being surprised by interventions, meeting many new friends. For the people that encounter the festival out on the street, we hope to make them more aware of what the role of graphic design is within our visual culture and how designers can contribute to a more transparent world.’
Main image: Open call poster winner - Aron Vellekoop Leon, Our inner ape
Other images: 1. Small Stories Bigger Picture – Vahram Muratyan, Paris/NewYork 2. Small Stories Bigger Picture – Sanne de Wilde, The Dwarf Empire 3. Social Signals, Trapped In Suburbia 4. Social Signals, Trapped In Suburbia 5. Letterproeftuin, custom typography 6. Open call poster winner - Friso Blankevoort, Robin Hood
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