Flow Festival reunite with Tsto and relaunch art program
Helsinki and New York based design agency Tsto have designed the identity for urban music and arts festival, Flow Festival, marking the fifth collaboration in total, their first since 2014. What started out as a two-night event at an indoor club in downtown Helsinki in 2004, putting on jazz and soul musicians, has now flourished nearly 15 years later into a fully-fledged three-day festival, showcasing the best international indie-rock, soul, jazz and contemporary club artists.
What's more, the festival embraces urban spaces, visual arts and design. Back in 2011, the festival adopted a new design identity courtesy of Tsto; a typography-laden aesthetic that has since become a central theme. The agency described this inaugural collaboration as "building on the idea of the festival crowd as an urban tribe, united by a metaphorical mantra of a visual wordplay". The bespoke Flow typeface is said to be influenced by contemporary central European trend of postmodern craftsmanship: "We see the font as smart, easy-to-approach and with a sense of humour". The illustrations, provided by Santtu Mustonen, created the core visual language and imagery for the project, through the use of repetition of letters and images. The visual identity was also designed to be used three years in a row with some alterations, with each year adopting its own "eccentric theme"; the first being "mantra", the second being "basic elements", and the third "emotions".
For 2018, the festival wanted to extend the typeface and take the typographic system further, adding more alternative characters to the bespoke Flow typeface, in the original hand-drawn style. Type foundry and graphic design studio Shick Toikka were also commissioned to draw derivative typefaces based on the original, including symbols that were "free of meaning": "“At Tsto we are often drawn to the typography and character systems of languages foreign to us, not for their exoticness, but how the characters create their own typographic colour", Tsto tells It's Nice That. Tsto are said to have been influenced by Hermann Zapf's 'Dingbats' font, utilising a character system that has similarly been applied for Flow Festival, adding a playful twist to the original identity.
In addition to this, the festival has brought back the design work from students at Aalto University for public viewing in the second instalment of their art program. Housed in a massive hall constructed with ply and wood by Aalto's Architecture program, this structure will provide a frame to a "hyper-sensorial experience, where festival visitors can just relax and recharge themselves". The art program will contain an interactive painting installation from visual artist Tiina Pyykkinen, video and light art from Sami Sänpäkkilä and Anna-Mari Nousiainen, as well as artwork by US cartoonist, graffiti artist and tatooist Mark Bode and his father Vaughn - among many others.
Snapshot (below), a concept from The Visual Communication Design Programme at Aalto University, captures the festival experience through powerful visuals: "These snapshots, or frozen moments, are described by eight illustrators in one over 100-meter-long mural, and the concept is brought to life by five designers in short animations looping on the stage screens".
This year's festival will take place in Suvilahti, Helsinki, boasting a lineup that includes Lauryn Hill, Mura Masa, Bonobo, St. Vincent, Brockhampton, Fever Ray and Jorja Smith, with Patti Smith, Arctic Monkeys and Kendrick Lamar named as headliners.