The first edition of the Antwerp Art Weekend took place in 2015 and at the time the organization was still searching for their look and feel. The event was set up in a short amount of time, with a lot of energy that came from the people involved and that didn't really allow for a graphic style to develop. After that first edition, Antwerp Art started to look for a design bureau that could start on building their identity and stroke a match in the newly founded Vrints-Kolsteren.
2016 was a year of transition for Antwerp Art as an organization and it showed graphically. It was the Antwerp Art Weekend edition of 2017 where the identity became truly visible as a whole and the dynamic system Vrints-Kolsteren had created was put to use, both for the Antwerp Art Weekend as for Antwerp Art in general. In an Interview with North East (JP) back in 2018, V-K stated the following:
We started out doing our first Antwerp Art Weekend and gradually were asked to do more items, as well as a new visual identity. That year we mainly worked on a new design for Antwerp Art Weekend, but because there was a need for consistency in all of their communication, we started to build a system that could be used for more than just one event. And that ended up becoming their new identity.
Vrints-Kolsteren was set out to create a neutral identity, which came from the idea of Antwerp Art being an even-handed platform for all the art organizations it works with, by using neutral typefaces that gave room for bold and vibrant color combinations, which could change with each edition of the Antwerp Art Weekend.
The identity is based on dynamic lines that make the letters AA (Antwerp Art) and AAW (Antwerp Art Weekend). They're used in many different variations and change in relation to the items. A folder will look very differently from the website, but the lines are always present in some way, showing the abbreviation. This makes the identity abstract and shape-based, but at the same time recognizable. Instead of creating a logo, they created a system, reflecting the fact that Antwerp Art is in fact a platform, more so than an institute.
Since the Antwerp Art Weekend is a recurring event, this allows Vrints-Kolsteren to revise their original design each year. "This way, the visual identity which you agreed upon in the beginning can continue growing. It’s like you have a set of rules and can start playing a game with them — switch things up. It allows us to prove that the system we originally set up keeps working over time." said V-K in a recent interview with Subbacultcha Belgium.
For instance, last year's 2019 edition celebrated Antwerp Art Weekend’s 5th anniversary. Since this was a somewhat festive occasion, the bureau decided to go with silver in the color palette and hide the number five in the print material.
So who are Vrints-Kolsteren?
Vrints-Kolsteren is an Antwerp-based design studio founded in 2015 by Vincent Vrints and Naomi Kolsteren, partners, and they have been working together since their college years. Vincent and Naomi studied illustration together and during that time their work was more experimental, collaborating with other students and delving into the world of zines and curating exhibitions, with a focus on photography and illustration. After graduating, they both went out into the world, with Vincent working at Studio Dumbar in the Netherlands, where he became familiar with the legacy of Dutch designers like Wim Crouwel and Karel Martens, and Naomi gaining experience in magazines and photography in Berlin, which continues to be “a significant asset to our work today”, as mentioned in an article for It’s Nice That.
After some years in other bureaus and continuing to work together as a couple on projects back in Belgium, they decided to take the big step and start on their own, setting up Vrints-Kolsteren. And they haven't sit still since then, applying their signature style onto numerous projects, mostly in the cultural field. They thrive for simplicity with strong typography choices and the building of identity systems as focal points, as well as maintaining a close dialogue with their clients to reach a tailored result.
And their work for Antwerp Art hasn't gone unnoticed either, with features on The Brand Identity, Flanders DC and Visuelle, selections for the Biennale Internationale de Design Graphique by Le Signe in 2018 and the International Poster Competition by Graphic Design Festival Scotland in 2019 with the Antwerp Art Weekend posters of that year, as well as an exhibition at CAFA Beijing.
We're now 2020 and the upcoming Antwerp Art Weekend has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 induced lock down measures. Yet when the cancellation was decided upon in March, Vrints-Kolsteren had their visual campaign ready to go. Sadly, we cannot bring it to you physically and its purpose has gone, together with the Antwerp Art Weekend, but we still wanted to show you the work that was already done. So without further ado, here's what the Antwerp Art Weekend 2020 campaign would have looked like if there was no world wide pandemic: