Art|Basel is the most important art fair in the world and was founded by the basel gallerists Bruckner, Hilt and Beyler in 1970. Today it has become a global fair, hosted annually in Basel, Miami and Hong Kong.
The mission for Automatico Studio was to bring new ideas into the Swiss Campaign. The campaign had to be printed on several formats. The classic swiss format F4 (90×128), the F12 (3 times the F4), the F200 (one of the biggest existing formats, similar to those used in France) and the F200 back-light. All posters were printed with a screen printing technique – half of them with a full automatic printer and the other half with a semi-automatic one. The white of the typography is also printed in screen printing. We aimed to cover the surface with as much ink as possible, to have a physical presence.
The brief was to create something new and fresh for the Swiss campaign during Art|Basel in 2014. During the creative process we ventured far from the main corporate guideline, exploring what could be done with the basic elements of the branding. The most difficult part was to deal with two heritages – first, the rebranded concept from the global agency Interbrand and second, the clever previous visual identity created by graphic design studio Müller+Hess.
In our concept we worked within the new laws of the Interbrand manual, keeping homage to the previous original identity and adding a bit of a personal twist.
The first concepts proposed were crazy and experimental, but after an initial client round we identified a more wise, safe direction. Minimalism is a way of conceiving the whole, it’s not just a style. Minimalism needs to be constructed over several laws and through the right sequence. I always prefer to talk about simplicity, rather than minimalism, a term that belongs to the field of art and regularly open to misinterpretation.
Simplicity is connected to «doing more with less», we can find this discipline also in the «super normal» attitude by Morrison and Fukasawa.
The fair has always favoured a simplified approach. It is also a reflection of the Swiss culture, discrete and introverted. Of course when you are reducing the language, every element of your synthesis is critical. The right choice for each element makes the difference. That explains why a big part of the time was spent with the printer, balancing and identifying the right colours.
I think there is a sort of unknown factor to that. The printing techniques were not the starting point, although Marc Spiegler, the Art|Basel director, is a big fan of the WROP (water random offset printing) technique we invented.
I personally think that in an era of digital images, printing production acquires a cool and authentic form, which is missing from the millions of cheap, digitally printed materials.
I would like to conclude by referencing my observations on the relationship between the sign and the message. How can you communicate an art fair whilst avoiding to become an artist yourself? What is the right way to demonstrate you are an art fair and not a gallery? I think the great (but difficult) idea can be summed up by avoiding artistical production, and rather going into an abstraction. In a global arena in which you need to stand out, the simplified minimalistic image is rare and, due to that, we may assume it acquires extra special value.