It can be sort of odd when you are asked to build the visual identity for a project which is so innovative that it doesn’t fit any existing definition and whose name is just reduced to a letter of the alphabet, the O. Odd; yet challenging and inspiring. The concept behind O was complex and simple at the same time: Founded in 2015 by producers Emília Fort and Rafa Montilla, and by director Luis Cerveró, O is a structure that supports image creators and grants them production capacity, aimed at being a community of illustrators, photographers, directors, producers and agents united by their unique personality and high quality work. O is a community of image makers that support the singularity of each creator without imposing a homogeneous style or any distinction between personal projects and commercial works. Director Luis Cerveró got in touch with Folch director Albert, with whom he shares a long term professional relationship of admiration and mutual respect with. From here we were entrusted with designing the visual identity and the web page for this innovative and collective project.
The “O” as the common denominator. More than a letter, the O is a form that embraces and contains at the same time. As a liquid that takes the same shape as its container does, the diverse variety of commitments, creators, aesthetics and different stimuli should be framed in an environment both neutral and with a strong personality. O needed a visual identity system that could enclose and adapt with its changeable and diverse content. Firstly we started working with the O as a letter and our initial identity proposal was typographically driven. We soon detached from the alphabetical value of the O. As it often happens, the solution was staring us in the face, a combination of fate and intuition: an old poster with a huge stain of red spray paint was hanging on the wall.
More than a letter, the O was a hole, an empty space, an impact, a gunshot. Attractive, mysterious and conceptual.
The “O”, is the central point from where everything is built, an underlying root for continual controlled innovation and experimentation. It can evolve and mutate when required to. It has to contain and hold together the content. Taking the O as the core of the system, the communication needed to be simple, straightforward and intelligent, contained within a graphical system that would reflect the ethical and honest attitude of the project. Taking inspiration from the editorial structure and the old advertisements graphic aesthetic, we recovered a design classic, the “Unigrid” by Massimo Vignelli: a direct and simple system based on a uniform grid. We wanted the grid to be the visible skeleton where the shapes and white blocks could reposition and move depending on the context and the content.
The main structure of the website is built on a six square grid. The web page content is organised by artists and, on a weekly basis, a new selection is featured on the homepage. Roster presents all the creators featured on the website, where each of their personal pages has a custom colour. The flexible grid allows for continual adaptation of the page dependent on the content. The blocks assemble a white mosaic, a complex canvas where short films, pictures, paintings, and publications are shown. This modern yet old-fashioned structure resembles the 50s newspaper and magazine layout, one of the main inspirations behind the design. The typography is also evoking this aesthetic: Monotype’s Neue Haas Unica gives the identity a bold look and stains the page with personality. The structure of the blocks is completely responsive: the blocks rearrange for all devices, adapting accordingly to the size of the screen. On a phone the grid breaks, conveying the content in a single column allowing for clear reading.