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New Work: Luminato Festival

The 2013 Luminato Festival opened in Toronto this past weekend for the start of a 10-day celebration of music, theater, dance, visual arts, literature and film. Launched in 2007, Luminato has grown into one of the largest arts festivals in North America; in its short six years, the event has commissioned 66 new works of art and featured 7,500 artists from 40 countries, highlighting Toronto as a cultural capital. Luminaries scheduled to appear at this year’s festival include the musicians Joni Mitchell and Laurie Anderson, performance artist Marina Abramovic, choreographer Mark Morris, architects Liz Diller and Ricardo Scofidio, and filmmaker Atom Egoyan, among many others.

Pentagram’s Michael Bierut and Hamish Smyth have designed a colorful new identity for Luminato that captures the vibrancy of the festival and its programming. The designers worked closely with Luminato Artistic Director Jorn Weisbrodt, CEO Janice Price, and Mary Ann Farrell, Senior Director, Marketing and Communications, on the project. To implement the identity, Pentagram collaborated with a group of Toronto-based creative partners that included Cosmic Design, who produced all the final artwork for advertising, brochures and other promotions, and Lunch, who designed and built the new Luminato website.

The new design establishes a cohesive, focused system that allows the incredible variety of Luminato’s offerings to shine through. In the previous materials, the festival was identified simply as “Luminato,” which did not really clarify what Luminato was. Adding to the confusion, the identity prominently featured the name of the festival’s lead partner, L’Oreal (“Luminato and L’Oreal: Partners in Creativity”), but in a way that served neither of them particularly well. And each edition of the festival had its own tagline and unique metaphoric visual motif.

For the new identity, the designers have formalized the name of the event as the LUMINATO FESTIVAL. The words have been arranged along the top and bottom of a graphic bar; it helps that the words happen to have the same number of letters, allowing them to be perfectly aligned. The designers found a way to more clearly state the relationship between Luminato and L’Oreal, pairing the names in a graphic element that can appear as an extra bar added to the logo or integrated into the tile-like pattern of brochures and posters.

The new system uses a flexible grid, bright color palette, and two typefaces, Pitch and Calibre, to unify all the materials created for the festival. The program puts the focus on the actual events as opposed to metaphors or promotional themes. Colorful patterns alternate with images of performers and artists, and the grid acts as a framework that lets festival stars like Joni Mitchell and Marina Abramovic take center stage.

Project Team: Michael Bierut, partner-in-charge and designer; Hamish Smyth and Danielle Hall, designers.