Kokoro & Moi: bold and busy in Helsinki

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Published:  August 25, 2015
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At the forefront of Finnish design is Kokoro & Moi, a Helsinki-based studio (with a New York outpost) producing eclectic identities that aren’t afraid of loud colours and busy typography. Here Antti Hinkula, co-founder and creative director, talks through the process and decisions behind two of the studio’s most memorable projects of recent times.

WORDS BY
Antti Hinkula,
Co-founder and creative director, Kokoro & Moi

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PROJECT
Guggenheim Helsinki NOW exhibition identity

The visual identity of the Guggenheim Helsinki NOW exhibition was inspired by the six architecture proposal finalists in the Guggenheim Helsinki Design Competition – an international architecture competition calling for proposals for a museum on a Helsinki waterfront site.

When we came to the project, it was in the phase where the competition had been organised, with 1715 submissions received and six finalists selected. There was no certainty if or when the actual museum would be built in the city, but there was a chance that the audience could consider the exhibition identity as an identity for the forthcoming museum, which we didn’t want to happen. Without considering the long-term application, we were able to create an identity with a bolder set of colours and stronger use of illustrations, which wouldn’t necessarily have been our approach when designing an identity for the museum.

KM3KM4KM6The phase the project was at, and the layout of the exhibition space itself supported an idea of temporariness and incompleteness. The space had the feel of a construction site, with prints directly wheat pasted on permanent surfaces and big information boards leaning freely against the walls. Plywood was the material choice for the panorama walls and furnishings.

We wanted the identity to express an idea of the museum as a frame or platform for art and experimentation. We realised this idea throughout the identity via the layout, plus the selected typography and the colour palette consisting of six bright colours. The background illustrations on the main collateral use the shapes of the floor plan of each proposal.

The project schedule was pretty tight, which meant we were working iteratively with the client. Instead of taking lots of time to develop ideas towards directions that would have possibly been rejected, we progressed dynamically with small steps and frequent reviews. This way we managed to find the right path with the client from the very beginning, and we avoided missteps.

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There were two elements that were given to us for compulsory inclusion in our design: Futura had been used as the main typeface for communications of the Guggenheim Helsinki project, and the colour purple was also a mainstay. Of course in this case, like in any case, we challenged and tried to push the boundaries with some progressive design ideas. In the end, we managed to create an identity that the client was happy with, and we didn’t need to make any major compromises.

Instead of using Futura, we were able to choose Architype Renner, which includes some nice alternate characters Futura doesn’t have. We used Architype Renner for the frame of the layout, while the titles and the main content utilise the more experimental and architectural Skyhook Mono. We used a bold and playful colour palette, to illustrate the diversity of the submissions and the six finalists, to create a kind of ‘candy store of contemporary architecture’ feel, where people could go, get inspired about the submissions and pick their favourites.

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PROJECT
Streat Helsinki festival identity

Street food has taken huge steps in recent years, and Streat Helsinki was all about praising and pioneering the countless opportunities and potential of street food in Helsinki and beyond.

The identity for Streat Helsinki was cooked up to incorporate authenticity and an experimental spirit, with ingredients that included bold colour choices, busy layouts, the custom-made Streat Helsinki typeface, a DIY attitude, a 90s vibe, rough materials and illustrations of some famous hungry mouths (Homer Simpson, Peter from Family Guy, SpongeBob Square Pants).

We started by working on all the different elements, trying lots of different options, bringing more elements in and taking things out. We wanted to add elements of DIY attitude in the identity, since much of the visual culture around street food is based on this – custom-made food trucks and hand-drawn menus, for example. The typeface we created, which imitates a paintbrush, brings out the attitude. The process of making the typeface was fast, since its character and purpose didn’t require us to spend too much time on spacing and kerning or other technical issues you usually meet when designing a proper font.

The festival took place at Torikorttelit – the old city centre of Helsinki – for which we created an identity and for which we have also been involved in developing the action plan and program. I think the best part of this whole campaign was to see our plans for Torikorttelit come true with this festival. We’ve been working to transform Helsinki into a more courageous, exciting, open, shared and more cherished city. It was a thrill seeing the happy faces of 20,000 hungry food lovers who visited Torikorttelit during the day, with about 40 food trucks and restaurants from all over Scandinavia and elsewhere serving their best dishes. The festival was a success and we felt we’d done a good job.

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