Nella Media Group
Honolulu Biennial Foundation
Michelle Ganeku and Mitchell Fong
THE DESIGN PROBLEM
Nella Media Group has history of supporting a nonprofit arts/culture organization. Throughout the years previously, we have designed campaigns for the Hawaii International Film Festival and the Rainbow Film Festival.
For 2017, we created the visual branding for the Honolulu Biennial Foundation (HBF) and their 2017 Biennial Exhibition. As its first entry into the international biennial circuit, HBF’s massive exhibition focused on art from the Pacific, Asia, and the Americas that dealt with topics ranging from colonialism to cultural traditions to the environment.
The 2017 exhibition was curated by Fumio Nanjo, director of Mori Art Museum, and Ngahiraka Mason, former Indigenous Curator at Auckland Art Gallery | Toi o Tāmaki. The exhibition featured 33 artists from over a dozen countries and took place across nine sites that included The Hub of Honolulu Biennial, Ward Village, the Honolulu Museum of Art, Ward Village IBM Building, Honolulu Hale, Foster Botanical Garden, Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum The ARTS at Mark’s Garage, Prince Waikiki, and Shangri La Center for Islamic Art and Cultures.
Our task was to create a campaign that embodied HBF’s mission to launch Hawaiʻi as the nexus of art in the Pacific. As a non-profit, HBF had limited funds but still needed to convey a sense of vastness, importance, and legitimacy in their campaign to attract an international eye. Visitors of the exhibition were young and old from a varying range of demographics, so the campaign needed to be serious but accessible. Visuals also needed to be flexible enough to work on media sizes that included web ads, nametags, buttons, catalogs, guidebooks, flags, and window signage.
As a result of the size of the campaign, deadlines were tight and much of the team worked overtime to ensure everything was completed successfully.
THE DESIGN SOLUTION
Our solution was to put Hawai‘i on the map, literally.
Inspired by scientific maps that chart water currents, our key visual shows the Hawaiian islands in a swirling grid of arrows and gradated colors. Currents are in a state of flux and constantly influences life in the Pacific. Similarly, art and culture in the Pacific is always changing. The gradient and arrows symbolize the exchange of ideas, culture, and influence. The visuals we created did not use any images, consisting only of arrows, colors, and typography.
Since the exhibition encompassed artists from different backgrounds and mediums, we wanted to merely invoke the idea of art in the Pacific without giving bias to any specific medium. The use of vector-based visuals allowed us to easily adapt the identity to all aspects of the campaign, big or small. Vibrancy of colors and complexity of the grid made the campaign instantly recognizable in almost any setting.
Since there were some exhibits geared towards kids, we created a special workbook that helped educate youth on the participating artists in an interactive way. HBF marked nearly 97,305 visits across the nine exhibition sites, with 21% of attendees from out-of-state.
Honolulu Biennial was covered around the world, including being featured as a top art event to attend in 2017 issues of Vanity Fair, LA Times, Forbes Travel, Monocle, Conde Nast Traveler and on The Today Show.