This was 2021

Following we share some impressions of 2021’s festival.In light of the Corona pandemic, we are all the more grateful we were able to hold the festival and get together last October.

As every year, we were pleased to show various exhibitions. Among them were well-known formats such as the 100 Best Posters and Best Book Design from all over the World. And for the first time this year we hosted the competition Junge Grafik, which recognizes innovative, diverse and exceptional graphic work created during a student’s education and training. The winners were honored in an award ceremony and celebrated with a party, before their works were shown in an exhibition.

This year the festival handed over the design of its main poster to seven international design studios to use it as an exploration space for self-promotion. After the seven posters were displayed all over Switzerland, a documentation of the public exhibition was shown as part of the festival.

A special THANK YOU goes to the participating designers: Actual Source, Alexis Mark, Europium, Johanna Burai, Moonsick Gang, New Studio and Zak Group with Jim Joe.

All posters are available in our shop

Another highlight of this festival issue was the annual symposium that evolved around the theme Designing Identities. It was such a pleasure to hear our international guests share their perspectives on the topic. Isabel Seiffert and Jonas Berthod did a great job in curating and organizing the three thematic blocks: 1. The Power of Identity, 2. A New Sense of Identity: Caring with Graphic Design and 3. Designed Identities: The Studio Voice.

Our speakers were: Futuress, Clara Balaguer, Charlotte Rohde, Evening Class, Johanna Burai, Graphic Support Group, Europium, Actual Source and Dexter Sinister.

Thank you very much to the hosts, all our guests from near and far and of course our audience for making this day truly informative, inspiring and special!

We, Ourselves, and Us was one of four exhibitions evolving around last year’s festival theme “Designing Identities”.

It gathered printed matter submitted in response to an open call that invited graphic designers from all over the world to send in their self-promotional material. The collection brought together more than 250 objects — ranging from business cards and stickers to refreshment wipes — and could be explored by visitors visually and tactually. In the context of the increasingly precarious working conditions in the design world, which are fuelled by pricing pressures, ever-growing competition, and a shift towards virtual representation, these material objects testify to how designers expertly and inventively present their own professional identities.

In the exhibition set-up, sleek professional identity design alternated with visuals of a more personal nature. This eclectic mix is a testimony to the narrowing gap between personal and professional identity in late capitalism. Is self-representational printed matter still relevant in an age when designers are reaching bigger and more diverse audiences online? Will this collection soon become another archive which reminds us of past practices? Or do the tactile nature and playful designs make a unique case for preserving important parts of contemporary identity design?

In conversation with the directors of Kunsthalle Basel and Kunsthalle Zürich was one of four exhibitions evolving around last year’s festival theme “Designing Identities”.

The exhibition presented two video interviews in which Elena Filipovic, curator at Kunsthalle Basel, and Daniel Baumann, curator at Kunsthalle Zürich, reflect on their different curatorial approaches to visual identity. They discuss how the communication strategies of their houses seek to impact the perceptions of different audiences, and they elaborate on strategies that involve designers and artists. Their insights are shared alternately, as a dialog, on two opposing screens. This intimate set up was shielded from outside view by a mounted selection of exhibition posters from both institutions.

Both Kunsthalle Basel and Kunsthalle Zürich are dedicated to exhibiting contemporary artists less familiar to audiences, and neither possesses a permanent collection. Baumann and Filipovic are intent on finding different ways to resolve the crucial need for communication that arises from these conditions. When listening to the shared strategies and intentions, some speculations may lead towards answers and actionable solutions, while others generate new questions. What does it look like to communicate as a curated platform for artists rather than as a corporation? Is it possible to refuse institutionalization as an institution? Can visual communication reflect internal connections? Is design able to help make everyone feel welcome? What happens when expressive identity design alters the readability of names? Is today's identity design able to support the constant reframing of authenticity and anticipation demanded from many platforms? 

A special thank you to Elena Filipovic and Claudio Vogt of Kunsthalle Basel, as well as Daniel Baumann and Dan Solbach of Kunsthalle Zürich

Last year, for the first time, we had our very own festival center with drinks, snacks and a shop. 

The audiovisual installation Identity was the final of the four exhibitions evolving around last year’s festival theme “Designing Identities”.

The installation by Dexter Sinister – the working name of designers, publishers and writers Stuart Bailey and David Reinfurt – examines how the corporate identities of London’s Tate, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris have changed. It explores the branding and positioning of art institutions as they become increasingly aware of their own image

Initiated by Stefan Kalmár and Richard Birkett of Artists Space based in New York, the work “Identity” was developed over a two-year period by Dexter Sinister with research assistance from Robert Snowden. The work centers on a three-part projection that functions as part informational film, part minimalist cartoon. This audiovisual essay uses three case studies – London’s Tate, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris – as coordinates from which to plot a broader landscape. Looking at the evolution of their brands over the last fifty years, the film projects how art institutions negotiate their positions on a spectrum of ideology and economy.

The workshops that take place during Weltformat Graphic Design Festival offer participants the opportunity to learn new design techniques as well as get to know different design approaches. In 2021 a total of three workshops took place.


Luis Hartl