First celebrated in 1947, the Holland Festival is a performing arts festival that takes place every June in Amsterdam across all possible venues showcasing everything from theatre to music, opera, modern dance, and in recent years to multimedia, visual arts, film, and architecture. With a new artistic director, Ruth Mackenzie, set to take the place of the previous director, Pierre Audi, who had been in the position since 2005, the organization selected, as it does with every changing of the guard, a new design firm to handle the identity and upcoming campaigns for the festival. Announced in September that the firm would be Thonik, this past week the new identity was introduced featuring a new typeface designed in collaboration with Bold Monday.
Thonik took the HF logo and combined it into a ligature. Early investigations focused on whether it was possible to make this abbreviation without alienating current audiences or confusing new ones. […] The first results of the ligature made graphic sense, but were illegible and unclear. More elements needed to be deleted for the full strength and clarity of the concept to shine. So, after joining everything together they needed to find a way to rip it back apart. They found their solution in Milton Glaser’s 1970 Stencil.
Based on this ligature + stencil result, Thonik then created a whole new typeface in collaboration with font foundry Bold Monday. […]The results for the Holland Festival are a celebration of elementary forms with a festive atmosphere using graphic language that travels seamlessly across all communication formats.
Perhaps in application there has been more to the previous identity designed in 2005 by Maureen Mooren and Daniel van der Velden — you can see some glimpses here — so I can’t comment much on its recent incarnations. As a clear evolution of that HF monogram, though, the stencil approach is almost an expected one, given the popularity of stencils in recent years, but, here, the twist comes in the move to turn the HF into a ligature and then a stencil. As a fan of both ligatures and stencils, I really like this solution. As a fan, too, of not-leaving-well-enough-alone I really like that they expanded this concept into a typeface full of stencil ligatures.
The quote a few hundred pixels above from Thonik downplays perhaps a little more than it should the reference to Milton Glaser’s Stencil as some of the characters in the above solution follow the exact same stencil structures, which is not a crime, since the new typeface has clearly been redrawn from scratch and has vastly improved Glaser’s original. Anyway, the real show-stealer here are the ligatures and how they take advantage of the stencil approach for the letters to come together both beautifully and mechanically.
And there is no better example than the “HO” ligature found in the logo. That detail alone was worth a Review. It verges on being hard to read but thanks to the mega powers of our brain and the assumption that the end users of this logo have at least basic powers in their brain, the “HO” reads perfectly well and so does the “LA” ligature and the “ND” ligature. As a wordmark it’s pretty great and as the foundation for a full identity it’s pretty exciting.
I’m on the fence about the complementary typeface, Euclid Flex (shown in the poster above), not so much about the choice but perhaps about the overuse of ligatures. Might be starting to get a little over eager about them. As it stands, there is still plenty to explore in application as the event nears in June but the few explorations that there are show off the potential of this typeface and as much as it’s going for the simplicity, vibrant-colored approach right now it could easily go into a number of different directions for upcoming years.